Women in Tech | Childhood Interest Turns Into Professional Career

4 min read
  • Education
  • Information Technology

Laserfiche was founded by Nien-Ling Wacker, a woman who began her career building custom solutions out of her home in the 1970s. She grew her business into the world’s leading ECM software company, which works to enable the digital workplace of the future. Today, she is recognized as a visionary leader and a pioneer in her field.

Wacker, along with countless other women, have made huge contributions to technology—yet women are still fighting for equality in the tech industry. Fortunately, the team at Laserfiche draws inspiration from women across the world who have blazed trails as technology leaders. As an ongoing initiative, we will highlight some of those talented women who have excelled in the technology field.  

Dee-Dee James is a business systems analyst at Oak Ridge Associated Universities. In her role, Dee-Dee is responsible for supporting the systems used to maintain electronic records, physical records and property.

Read on to learn more about Dee-Dee and what inspired her to pursue a career in technology.

1. How did you become interested in a career in technology?

As an adult, I noticed that many people were unhappy with their jobs. After that realization, I knew I needed to choose a career that I would truly enjoy. My interest in technology started at the age of 12 after attending a camp that introduced me to the World Wide Web and computers. That interest led to self-teaching with an old DOS system. At the time, I couldn’t afford a computer so I used parts from old systems that I found lying around to build my own. Eventually, I was able to lease an affordable system, and a friend began teaching me more about computers.

Though I did a good job teaching myself, I knew I needed a formal education in technology. I enrolled at ITT Technical Institute and majored in computer networking systems technology. The courses I took were not limited to one specialty in computer science, and covered programming, networking, project management and hardware and software implementation.

2. Have you always worked in technology focused roles?

I started my career as a youth coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. My primary responsibility was to interact with the parents and children, making sure everyone was in attendance and accounted for. At that time, the organization did not have a specific department dedicated to computer upkeep. If another branch was having an issues with their computer system, I would step in and provide my expertise. The Boys & Girls Club allowed me to exercise what I was interested in, and inspired me to get my degree in technology.

3. During your time at ORAU, what are some of the projects or achievements of which you are most proud?

Working with Laserfiche has to be my biggest achievement to date. Although I’m relatively new to the system, I have mastered the functionalities that help our organization run at peak performance. At the moment, I’m developing more efficient workflows that will streamline processes and allow employees to focus their talents on more thought-provoking projects. I’m also working on cleaning up unused areas of the system so that we can move forward on a clean slate.

4. What advice would you give to other women who are interested in careers in technology? What about if they have no experience or formal education in technology?

My advice to other women who are interested in a career in technology would be to learn your craft and genuinely be kind to others. In today’s world, there are many free resources to take advantage of, but nothing is quite as helpful as a mentor. You can never know too much, and people are your biggest resource. Additionally, it’s important to remember that you can be anything you want to be, as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort.

5. What is the best career advice you have ever received?

At a previous job, I worked on a departmental newsletter that highlighted senior management. Inside one of those interviews, an executive shared a piece of wisdom I’ll never forget:

“As an individual, you have the power to shape your career.”

That was definitely the most powerful advice I had ever received. It encouraged me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to, despite race, religion, sexual preference or any other stereotype. There are no excuses.

6.If you could spend a day with any woman in history, who would it be and why?

If I could spend a day with any woman in history, it would be Michelle Obama. The world saw her as the first lady, but I see her as an inspiration. She was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth and worked her way up to the top through education and follow-through. She set a goal for how she wanted her life to look, and executed it. Being the first lady was an added bonus.

Read more from the Women in Tech series:

Helping the World Work Smarter via Marketing

Shaping the Future as a Presales Engineer

Making Her Own History in Product Marketing

Fostering Innovation as an Associate Counsel

Women in Tech: Refining Code as a Quality Assurance Engineer

Embracing the Hustle of the Tech Industry

[Watch] Women in Tech Video

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