For this blog post, we reached out to different women in the tech space to gain insight on how they initially gained interest in the tech industry, challenges they face and how they work to overcome those challenges. This blog post features Regina Alhassan, a 12-year skilled employee at a major global security and aerospace company, and the mother to our Director of Marketing. Enjoy!
According to the 2017 U.S. Census report, out of 12 million single-parent families with children under the age of 18, more than 80 percent were headed by single mothers. As a single mother, since your children are your top priority, it can be challenging to chase after your dreams and also ensure your children have the best life experiences. It’s often a tough juggling act.
This was very much the reality for Regina Alhassan, who, nearly 18 years ago, found herself a single mother to three children under the age of 18. As they neared high school graduation, she wondered how she would afford to send them to college.
How It All Began
During the early 90’s, Regina worked as a flight attendant and in the medical field. She described her initial introduction to the tech industry as a “fluke.”
“I was one of the few people I knew who had a PC at home. I didn’t know how to use it at the time, but I made a vow to myself that I would learn how,” Regina recalled. “I remember scrolling through the newspaper one day and seeing job ads for accounting and sales positions. I wasn’t that interested in either, and that is when I decided I was going to go back to school to pursue a career in the tech field.”
Regina immediately started studying computer information systems and business, earning a dual degree. As a single parent, it took her longer than most to finish. When she finally graduated, she felt like a 20-year-old fresh out of college, fearing no companies would be willing to hire her.
“I was very much afraid to get a job in this industry. A lot of people currently in this industry don’t have a background in IT, and you’re never going to know everything on the job because everything changes so fast,” Regina said.
Regina is now a remote senior computer systems engineer/analyst at a major global security and aerospace company. She has been with the company for 12 years. In her position, she manages multiple servers and is the last line of defense before a site goes live. She works closely with application developers and cybersecurity teams.
As a member of the tech space, Regina particularly loves what she does day to day, especially in a fully remote role.
“I have a five-minute commute from the coffee shop to my home desk, which is awesome,” Regina said. “My company also emphasizes a healthy work-/life balance for its employees, so I’m a member of organizations like the Diversity Council outside of work.”
Regina noted that she’s a true geek at heart and “loves all the geeky things” that her company does. She also explained that constant changes, keeping up with the latest and greatest, and testing out new things before implementation keep her very interested in her role.
Tech Industry Challenges
It can be challenging to navigate the tech industry as a woman, especially one of color. Fortunately, Regina’s core team is filled with strong, driven, intelligent women; her company is even led by a woman.
“The industry has certainly changed a lot,” Regina stated. “In the past, I have noticed that promotions and things like that most of the time went to a guy. You do have to kind of prove yourself in this space, which sucks, but it’s kind of typical.”
Over the past 12 years, Regina has been able to build a solid reputation among her colleagues.
“The guys that I work with understand me and know that I am knowledgeable and good at what I do, and it does feel good,” Regina explained.
Diversity in the tech industry has certainly improved over the past years, with the U.S. average of tech companies employing women now at 50 percent as of 2017.
“Currently in IT, there is still a desperate need for so many people, especially women,” Regina said.
Tips for Other Single Mothers
Regina encourages single mothers not to let the daunting thought of pursuing their dreams deter them.
“My advice to single women — period — is to simply go for it. You can do a wide array of things within the tech industry, and I tried a lot of them until I found my niche. I encourage any woman pursuing a career in the tech industry to learn as much as she possibly can. Don’t be afraid to move around until you find out what you like and what you’re passionate about.”
Author: Alisiana Peters
Alisiana is a marketing coordinator at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.