Kate Martin: [00:00:20] Welcome to the apprenticeship.io podcast, where we gather the courageous leaders, the tech industry needs to talk about education, equity, job hunts, hiring in tech and you guessed it apprenticeships, whether you're considering a career switch to tech currently studying or working and leading in tech, we hope to show you stories, ideas, and tactics to inspire you and equip you to make the tech industry, and our future together, a more equitable place for all of us. Let's get to know today's guest.

[00:00:52]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:00:52] Today's guest is Jenna Ritten. Jenna became a Cloud Developer Advocate through the IBM apprenticeship after attending Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco in 2017. Before transitioning into tech, Jenna was an office manager and event planner and studied linguistics in college at the University of Michigan. Jenna loves hackathons, open source technology, and her hometown of Detroit.

[00:01:13]This episode was recorded while I was quarantined in Florianopolis, and I hope you enjoy the sounds of the Brazilian jungle, that became a beautiful, unexpected feature of this episode.


[00:01:23] This episode was originally recorded in January 2021.

[00:01:26]Welcome to the podcast, Jenna. I'm super excited to have you here.

[00:01:30]Jenna Ritten: [00:01:30] Thanks for having me.

[00:01:30]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:01:30] So the first question that I ask is always about the educational upbringing of your childhood? It really just can go broad and wide that whatever your heart desires.

[00:01:40] Jenna Ritten: [00:01:40] Sure. So I went to public school from the time I was in elementary school through high school I went to for younger schooling. I went to school in parts of Metro Detroit. In middle school, we moved up to the thumb area of Michigan, so I went to a school in a town that was about a square mile, but I had a really good teachers there. It was actually pretty tough. In high school, We moved close to Flint, to Lapeer.

[00:02:08]I think I've had pretty good schools that I've been able to attend. I've had at least a couple of great teachers at each school that I've really learned a lot from. But one of the things that I've had to do from a young age inside and outside of school is learn how to, what we would refer to in our industry as advocating for yourself.

[00:02:30]So for instance, in eighth grade, I had a teacher that was a history teacher that was giving me a lower grade then I knew that I earned. I actually had to go in to meet with my teacher, with my parents and address him giving me a lower grade. And his response was that. While Jenna can't always get A's and she has to get a B sometime. And so he was just, giving me a dose of reality by giving me a lower grade instead of what I earned.

[00:02:58]And I've had that happen with a couple of teachers too. So that's the biggest thing that has stood out for me is I've had to I've always had to fight and to advocate for myself in order to get what I rightfully have worked for and earned. I definitely have had some great teachers that have shown me what a great teacher, a great mentor looks like, and that everybody learns differently.

[00:03:25]I had a chemistry teacher who would teach every new concept in three different ways. He was dyslexic when he was younger, so he said he would purposely teach things in three different ways, and if you needed, a fourth way or a fifth way. I've had some teachers that have stood out and shown me what learning looks like and that there's a lot of different ways to learn. So if there's one specific way, you're trying to learn something and it's not working for you. It's not that you don't understand it or that it's too hard for you or that you just don't get it. It's just the way that you're trying to learn. It does not align with the way that you learn things fast.

[00:04:01] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:04:01] I love it. I am the daughter of a public school teacher and I appreciate the teachers that have had a tremendous impact on our lives. So shout out, you said, Mr. Walker. I love that you were able to be exposed to different learning styles and the idea of if you aren't getting or jiving with what you're being taught the first time that it's not a reflection of your total failure. It sounds like first exposure to growth mind mindset before Carol Dweck made her book and became famous with TED talks and things like that. So you got that exposure in high school?

[00:04:36]Jenna Ritten: [00:04:36] Yeah. It's a blessing to be exposed to things at a young age. It's also a curse because adults don't like being challenged. They don't like having to put in more work where maybe they're slacking. When you're a kid and you're addressing an adult and pointing out things that they are doing wrong it doesn't put you in a really good position. I've had a lot of trouble with making friends. When you're doing things outside of the norm you get picked out and put into a space where you're the other. Like in high school, I was bullied a lot, like from eighth grade until I graduated. There was a guy in my school who found out my family was Jewish. We were one of two Jewish families in the whole area. He would make antisemitic comments to me almost on a daily basis to the point where I stopped going to lunch. When you're doing things outside of what everybody else is doing, and you're really put in a position where you have to fight for your own success at a young age to other kids that doesn't come off great, that comes I was Brown noser and a suck up and little miss perfect. I've had to grow a thick skin and be aware of things at a young age, like people that don't do well in class, it's not a failure on them. It's a failure on, them not being taught in a way that works for them. That's on their teachers and not getting support from their family. I'm very grateful to have had a supportive environment too, so that when things went wrong, I had someone that listened to me and believed me and had my back and I could go to for help.

[00:06:09] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:06:09] It sounds like for better or worse, you had experiences that prepared you a lot for corporate America and for the, lack of diversity in tech today. It's that give and take between your identity being foisted upon you versus you having the opportunity to create it and define it for yourself. That's definitely something that I think comes up all the time, not only for non-traditional software engineers, but anybody, building their professional career. You mentioned Flynn and growing up in Detroit. And I'm curious what it was like growing up there and what you might want folks in the tech industry to know about Detroit and the area where you grew up?

[00:06:49]The first thing that comes to mind, I was having a conversation right outside a conference when I was in San Francisco and someone asked me about Detroit and I mentioned Metro Detroit and they started to laugh. And I was like, why are they laughing? I was like, why are you laughing? And they were like, Oh, you said Metro Detroit. I'm like, yeah, metropolitan Detroit. If you're in New York city, you're not just in New York city, there's different boroughs. Did you grow up in East Harlem or hell's kitchen or the lower East side or where are you in Brooklyn? There's a lot of different areas. I felt like I was back in high school with someone trying to make me feel inadequate when they were just completely ignorant to what a city looks like.

[00:07:27]Detroit, when you look at a map, closer to the edge of Michigan, you'll see like the city limits of Detroit, which go to about six mile and then they go out Eastern West on each side and then from there you have Southfield and Dearborn and Ferndale and Warren, like Eminem's from Warren. But these are all areas that make up Detroit and there's a very strong sense of community. People will defend Detroit. If you say something negative about Detroit people will definitely defend it because we know how strong and resilient and innovative the people in the city are and how much Detroit has had to overcome to still exist and be flourishing as it is now.

[00:08:11]If you went to Detroit five years ago and you went to Detroit today, it would be unrecognizable to you. There's major tech companies that have offices there. Microsoft has an office. Google has an office.

[00:08:23]And it's funny because when they first had offices like Google first opened its office in Birmingham and Birmingham is that about 15 mile up Woodward. And it's Probably the most expense, one of the most expensive areas of Metro Detroit, like it's where people with a lot of money live. A lot of what people don't understand about Detroit is there's a lot of millionaires and billionaires that live in Detroit and they're there for a reason. Major international headquarters are in Detroit. For instance, my partner just got a job at Bissell. Bissell is an international company, their headquarters from Detroit. Quicken loans as a headquarter in Detroit.

[00:09:01] So it sounds like your story about Google reminds me a lot of the kind of consumer mentality of a lot of tech companies and they're looking at their hiring strategy. It's like really not about what can we offer? What can we bring in terms of our resources and our knowledge and what we have to the table to develop people in the city that were coming into it's more about, extracting incredible talent from that place. That's one of the big things that the tech industry needs to change is the centrality that you can just brain drain various cities in the quest for only the highest caliber talent, however your company might define highest caliber talent tends to be elitist in nature. I'll be transparent that my knowledge of Detroit is probably similar more to the person you were interacting with at that conference. In terms of, yeah, I know Detroit through Eminem, through Big Sean, through the automotive industry kind of leaving. You talking about the industries and corporates that are still established there, it helps bring color and illuminates, maybe, what people don't know from never having visited. It's really cool.

[00:10:13]Jenna Ritten: [00:10:13] These companies, they come into a city and they bring their pipelines with them that are from whatever cities they're from, instead of coming into a city and building a new pipeline of talent from the talent that's already there. I don't understand. Realistically, if you're hiring someone from Michigan to work in Michigan, the salaries lower, you don't have to pay them relocation. So you're already saving a hundred thousand dollars easy. But instead you would rather bring in someone from Boston or New York, you're paying their relocation. You're paying them a much higher salary to get them to move to Detroit, and then they're leaving after a year or two because they don't have to be there anymore and they move on to another city. It's a giant wheel of wasted money as opposed to here's all this great talent coming from in Detroit has a ton of engineering schools like Wayne state, U of M Michigan state U of D Oakland.

[00:11:06] There's a ton of schools that have engineering programs because the big three, there's a reason why the big three are in Detroit and they're not in some other state and that they've stayed there. What I've discovered is there's a huge disconnect because the recruiters aren't from Detroit and the managers aren't from Detroit and the head of the departments aren't from Detroit. There's no investment and no effort to tap into local talent.

[00:11:29] So somebody that learns engineering in San Francisco is a better engineer than someone that learned it in Austin or DC or Detroit or Chicago. It's all the same stuff. At the end of the day, all these tech companies have hired what they think is top tier talent, which is people coming out of Ivy league engineering Programs and their companies aren't doing so hot, like they're having all these internal issues with diversity and inclusion.

[00:11:57]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:11:57] I definitely have seen what you're talking about in terms of a lack of connection to the location and to the community in the tech industry. One of the larger problems that we're seeing as a consequence of the internet is just this disconnection from local places and community. It's something that I think is a huge problem, so it's really interesting to hear about it through the lens of what's happening in Detroit. But I was curious if there was anything for folks out there that are maybe learning more about you and seeing your work history or your social media, if there's anything you would want them to know about you and your life story that they might not see from what's online?

[00:12:39]Jenna Ritten: [00:12:39] I would want them to know that every part of it has been a struggle. There's not one part of my life, which has not had some sort of difficulty or tragedy. I've had to manage and juggle countless things just to get by and still figure out a way to be successful in the end. My mom just always says that the universe blesses those that are able to handle it with the most difficult lives. And I guess I believe that, I'm working a job, I can support my family, I've survived so far. I would just want anyone else to know that everything has felt like an impossible challenge. It's all about just weathering the storm. Everything has a beginning and an end, and it's all just about how well you move through it.

[00:13:29]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:13:29] It sounds like a lot of resilience and, just being persistent and continuing forward, so that's awesome. You studied linguistics in college, and I was just curious to understand what inspired you down that path? What did you expect to pursue in your career? Or maybe you didn't have any expectations? What inspired you to go down that route?

[00:13:51]Jenna Ritten: [00:13:51] As far as my interests go, I've always been interested in languages. When I was a sophomore in high school, I took a Spanish course at Oakland university so that I could skip a year. After my junior year, I went to Spain for the summer and senior year, I was taking courses at U of M Flint. My goal really was to just immerse myself as much as I could in not just Spanish language and culture, but diving deeper into why and how the languages are, how they are and where it came from.

[00:14:25]There was a really fantastic linguistics professor at U of M. And she did really, she just did really amazing classes in like one of them was she did a class on. Studying linguistics around reggaeton and looking at different like Cuban and Latin American Spanish music and breaking them apart and studying, linguistically what's going on.

[00:14:49]I had another teacher that focused on like rockabilly and blues and so there was really like a lot of fantastic options for studying. Linguistics and other parts of Spanish culture in a more interesting way than let's just read this book. And and as far as what I wanted to do with it, I really just wanted to learn as much as I could about languages.

[00:15:10] So I took Spanish, I took Brazilian Portuguese. I took Russian. But with health issues and personal life tragedies that were going on in college, the head of the Russian department actually told me that I was quote unquote causing problems for the Russian department and that they wanted me to drop my minor.

[00:15:29]So I finished my classes and just didn't finish my minor. I figured if If somebody wasn't going to support me in their department, I didn't really want to continue being there. But since I was little, I wanted to be a doctor. So that was like a five years old. I wanted to be a doctor.

[00:15:43]When I was in, I knew by middle school, I wanted to be a facial reconstructive surgeon. So for me, I wanted to explore as many areas Outside of anything science-related that I was interested in before I was going to be just entrenched in it. Full-time so I just took anything, I took kondoli stance for three terms in college.

[00:16:06] So any area that I was passionate about learning more? I I just did. And took my other coursework that I knew that I had to take with it.

[00:16:15]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:16:15] That's awesome. You want it to be a facial reconstruction surgeon when you were a kid? That sounds like it probably was a mouthful when people inevitably asked you what you want to be when you grow up.

[00:16:25]Jenna Ritten: [00:16:25] Yeah. I would just say a doctor. I'm a doctor.

[00:16:28]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:16:28] That's awesome. I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I definitely had similar dreams and goals. It's interesting that your initial interest in linguistics eventually morphed into software engineering as well, because I found that although our traditional academic institutions in the United States, especially tend to think of programming and computer science as a math based Field, shall we say a lot of the folks who I've seen really thrive come from arts and from language and the other side of the brain. I see a very clear through line there between your interest in linguistics and. What has not turned into your passion for software engineering, which I find really fascinating.

[00:17:13]Jenna Ritten: [00:17:13] Yeah. They're very much aligned. As much as I excelled in math and science, the one thing that really helped me get through bootcamp was how coding languages were the same as linguistics. They're the same. There's patterns, there's rules they're supposed to follow. The one thing that's nice about Engineering is that you're able to create your own rules. What rules do I want this program to follow? When you decide what those rules are and you tell the system, this is how I want you to behave, it actually behaves in that way. Language does not work like that at all.

[00:17:47]Even in my Brazilian Portuguese class, I had two kids, two other students that had grown up in Brazil until they came over to the U S at 10 and 14 or something. And they were struggling in the class because they were like, nobody speaks like this. Like in Brazil,  there's so many dialects and so many colloquialisms, like nobody talks like this isn't how we would say this. And that's with all languages, like there's all these rules, but then there's a million exceptions.

[00:18:13]At least in engineering, you get to create what those rules are and the system follows it, and if it doesn't follow it, it's because you did something wrong. It's not going to magically decide it's going to do something different. It can only do what you direct it to do.

[00:18:26]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:18:26] And you worked as an office manager and event planner before transitioning into tech. How did you talk about that previous work experience as you were coming into the industry? How did you approach communicating about your previous work?

[00:18:40]Jenna Ritten: [00:18:40] I've worked in in the medical field as an office manager of medical practices. I've managed a lot of people, I work with multiple systems, and it's constant work that has to be done every day, but also constant fires that need to be put out, dealing with insurance companies and things being coded wrong and having to rebill and having to deal with patients and making them happy.

[00:19:05]One thing that the tech industry could learn a lot from is anyone that's worked in the service industry, I feel like maybe a lot of engineers have just never had to wait on someone before, because it puts you in a totally different mindset. I think I work very well on a team because I've been forced to constantly be in environments where I'm fixing a problem and also mitigating people's emotional responses to what's going on. So there's fires going on, but I also have to make sure that the patient feels like they're supported and like I'm going to work everything out and that they can trust me, and that I'm going to take care of it for them. Communication is everything. So all of the soft skills that I need to be an engineer, to work on a team, to support my teammates, to be mediator when there's issues, and bring the team together, and bring everyone back on the same page. I have more experience than I'll need in my lifetime.

[00:20:07] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:20:07] Yeah. I am a huge proponent obviously of soft skills and communication and all of those things being so important for engineers in ways that I don't think the industry really talks about enough or prepares people for. I hear you on, being a very skilled herder of cats and calm her down of panic and frustration and all of those things. It's super valuable for your work in software engineering too.

[00:20:35] Jenna Ritten: [00:20:35] I think if you're going to be an engineer, you should have to work as a waiter or in some sort of health admin role for a year.

[00:20:44] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:20:44] I think it would make people a lot more humble and a lot more thoughtful about how they design software.

[00:20:50]Jenna Ritten: [00:20:50] It would make people more self-aware. Hey, you're not the center of the universe. The work that you're doing is for other people and you should always be thinking about them. It's like IBM and design thinking. We shouldn't have to teach people to think about other people. First, all design thinking is you are not the center of the universe. You are not your user. There is somebody else that you're serving and doing this work for and putting them first, like human first, the world would work so much better if everyone just always thought with a human first approach to everything. Forcing someone to be a barista in a coffee shop for a year. It would totally change everything. We would not have all the issues that we're having, especially in products being not being accessible. These conversations would all go so much more smoothly.

[00:21:35]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:21:35] I totally agree. How did you end up coming into bootcamps and how you learned about this path to begin with and then why you picked up the camp and why you eventually moved to San Francisco?

[00:21:47]Jenna Ritten: [00:21:47] I was actually studying for the MCAT, and my parents kept saying to me, my dad's a physician and he kept saying to me, don't go into medicine. My mom was looking up programs and she said, Hey, there's these coding boot camps. There's this one it's in San Francisco and they have other locations. And you should just look into it before you, jump into med school.

[00:22:09]And I was like, no, I'm not. An engineer. I'm not the technical type. I, my brother built computers from scratch. So that's what I thought engineering was. My grandfather was an engineer for GM and I'm like, I don't want to work on cars. Like no one ever said to me, Hey, you're in the top of your class and all your maths and sciences.

[00:22:27] Have you thought of engineering? So I had no idea what engineers did or what it looked like. I was just like, I'm going to be a doctor. When I was working on my M cap prep I was actually managing a medical practice. I was just like, What am I doing? Like, why am I doing this? I'm getting an overworked and underpaid and underappreciated and all of this so that I can go to medical school. So I was like, let me take my savings and try a bootcamp. What really sold me was Caplin had acquired dev bootcamp and I was, I trusted Caplin with all of my, act sat and all of my M cap prep. So I was like, if a company like Kaplan is going to put their money behind dev bootcamp, then it's obviously like a legitimate program. So I just decided worst case scenario. I don't do well. I go back and send out my applications, but I went to San Francisco and then I just never went home.

[00:23:23]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:23:23] Awesome. Were you ever considering other locations or what brought you to San Francisco?

[00:23:28]Jenna Ritten: [00:23:28] I was logically I was thinking about, like there's New York is close, Chicago is close. I talked to a family friend of ours who was a CTO at a company. He just said, if you're really serious about doing a career change and getting into tech, then you might as well go to San Francisco because that's where the opportunities are. It's saturated with tech companies and opportunities. I just decided if I was going to take a risk and really go for it, I wanted to go to the heart of where everything was happening and where the most opportunities would be.

[00:24:04] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:24:04] This is where our paths intersect. That's how we met was dev bootcamp. And I think what stands out for me about you, Jenna, is the way that you sought out these resources. As you're saying, you decided that you wanted to come to San Francisco and really build yourself up in the tech industry there. But as soon as you gain the skills, the network and started, establishing yourself, you immediately were organizing back in Detroit, doing some of the work you were talking about earlier. So I remember you working with, GitHub to get dev bootcamp students passes for their conference and eventually working with Twilio and lesbians who tech. And so I'm curious just how you thought about that work as you were job hunting. And transitioning still really as like you were still a student when you started doing it. So how you thought about that work and then if you would recommend that approach and similar arrange arrangement for other engineers who are transitioning into the industry.

[00:25:07]Jenna Ritten: [00:25:07] Yeah. I really just saw a free thing I was interested in or thing I wanted to do as an opportunity, and I always think about everyone else. If I'm going to do something, how can I bring everyone else up with me? So even with GitHub, I sent a message and I said, I'm a student technically. I'm not a university student, but I'm a bootcamp student. There's a lot of bootcamp students across the country, and this is the future of engineering. I'd really like to, attend, GitHub Universe and have my first tech conference experience. I'd like to see if I could get tickets for my program, because we're all in the same boat, and I ended up getting a response back, that they were giving us 40 tickets for everyone to be, that wanted to be able to go. And pretty much after that moment, I saw that as long as you can find the right person, anything is possible.

[00:26:04]It's all just access. It's all just finding the right person and getting aligned with the same mission and that is what grants access to everybody. They want as many students as possible and they hadn't thought of including bootcamps before, so that to them was like a whole new market of students that they could bring. It really was a win-win for both, and then they invited me to some pretty much some brainstorming of like how they can make the program better and things like that. So what I decided was if the companies that I was passionate about or the programs that I thought would be a good fit. I just went for it like with Twilio. I talked with, I went to IBM index in February, the following year, and I went over and was talking to Twilio. So actually one of the first events I ended up doing was Twilio quest in Detroit. So I've really just put myself out there and shared my story, shared what I'm passionate about with the right people. I meet people that are passionate about community and impact and putting their actions where their words are. Those are the people that are excited to help out. If there's something that you're passionate about or there's a company you really want to work for go to an event, reach out to people. You're going to get nos and you're going to meet people, quite frankly, that are assholes, but there's a lot of really fantastic people and doors are gonna open. You have to put yourself out there and you have to, you'll embarrass yourself. Something magical will happen. It's the people that put themselves out there are the ones that find those amazing opportunities, especially since most opportunities aren't even posted online.

[00:27:46] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:27:46] Absolutely. I think it was a really seamless and beautiful way for you to transition, provide value as a job secret too, because I would say that's one of the things that I see very often from folks is this hi, I need a job. Can you help me on repeat? And when you're on the receiving end of it, I think you learn very clearly how frustrating that can be, but you immediately jumped into, I was an event organizer. I see that there are tech conferences. I see that my school needs help getting, folks out into the tech industry and I'm going to deliver value for everybody. And as you said, GitHub and Twilio, and these companies also benefited from your organizing as well. I just want to say kudos to you on that. I hope it's a pattern in a model that others can follow in your footsteps for sure. To me now, it's unsurprising that you've found you're way into developer relations. For those who are unfamiliar with developer relations. It's what we would call blended engineering role, at the intersection of engineering and marketing, going to hackathons and help helping developers implement new tools that companies are promoting, so like IBM Watson's API would be a great example of a technology that iBM would want other developers using. They have developer advocates who would help people implement that technology. That would be a great example of what a developer advocate would do.

[00:29:14]I see a couple of things in this space is either folks who are unaware of blended engineering roles entirely and that's the work of career coaches like myself, but also folks who have this sense of like stigma or " Oh, like I should only go into software engineering because plain software engineering is that most respect, the most money, and so I can't even consider blended engineering roles." Do you agree with that? Do you push back against that? What has been your experience working in developer relations?

[00:29:43]Jenna Ritten: [00:29:43] I would say that I initially thought the same thing. We ended up having a giant resource action last year, which is layoffs basically. I had been with IBM for not even a year and was included in them. And I was like, I did everything right, and why is this happening? I was forced to look for other opportunities. The first team that I interviewed with was the IBM developer website team. And I was like they're a pretty small team. So we're like, Oh, we're looking for someone, with certain level of experience and, you're fairly new and we're a small team. So we want someone with a little bit more experience, but I told them, about everything I was doing. And they said, have you. Thought about developer advocacy or developer relations or developer evangelism or all the things. It's a lot of different titles. And I was like, no, I haven't been an engineer for that long yet. In my mind was like, Oh developer advocates had years and years of experience that's and then they became advocates. That's just in my mind how I thought it worked. And so I ended up the very last team I interviewed with was the developer advocacy team and I basically had already been doing advocacy with all the events that I was doing in Detroit, white boarding and algorithms and technical prep. I'd already been doing it. Once I learned more about what developer advocacy was and that the technical part of it was really having the freedom to pick and choose what technologies you want to learn and create your own projects, and there's a lot of flexibility and kind of room to play. Once I really learned more about advocacy, it really seemed naturally like the best fit.

[00:31:31]I definitely got more of a pay increase moving into an advocacy role than I did staying in my regular role. You're in a forward facing position with the company. If you think about it, you really have a lot more exposure and are able to touch and impact so many more people more quickly because people can see you, they can access you. I've been able to take things that are important inclusivity and accessibility and put it into my work. So for black history month, last year, rather than just doing some technical workshops, I focused on ethical AI and racial bias around visual and voice recognition software.

[00:32:11]I'm able to tap into Topics that are far more important than just the tech pieces and overlay the technical pieces on top of it and provide solutions on how we can fix these things. So I would say if an opportunity presents itself and it feels uncomfortable, but it also feels like maybe it's a good fit, I would just say, go for it. Growth happens in the places that are the most uncomfortable. I definitely wouldn't rule anything out. Or think that being in an an engineer position is the only way to do engineering because it's definitely not.

[00:32:47]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:32:47] I'm curious like now that you have gotten through your apprenticeship and your positions organizing and you have established yourself more in developer relations, like what's your next big dream or challenge for yourself and where you see yourself going in the future?

[00:33:03]Jenna Ritten: [00:33:03] So a challenge I'm working on right now is actually getting into a graduate program. IBM will pay for them, so if you want to continue your education and become a better and more well-versed engineer, your company is more than happy to pay for that. My challenge right now is getting into an engineering program because I didn't come from an undergraduate engineering background. And one of the things I've learned is that even if you work, it doesn't count as technical experience. It doesn't replace any computer science courses, which just blows my mind because if you're working as a software engineer and you're working on computer networking for cloud, that doesn't replace like a computer networking 101 course, which I think is just like total baloney. But so that's the challenge I'm facing right now is showing that I am technically strong enough to tackle a graduate program. I've already been denied once. I want to get the education to fill in the gaps so that I can move further to where I want to be. I definitely want to keep moving in a technical position. I don't want to end up in a position five years from now where I'm managing people. I want to be a technical leader in the space.

[00:34:21]Kamrin Klauschie: [00:34:21] That's really fascinating. I definitely want to stay in touch about that journey. You're on to get back into a CS graduate program, because I think that is kind of in scope for the kind of work that I see apprenticeship.io working on in terms of creating better policies for educational inclusion. I often think about it in terms of scholarships and conferences. I remember Grace Hopper for a long time didn't allow both educators and students from non-traditional programs to attend on educator and student passes. So keep us posted on that and really curious and would love to support you. Would you have any last words of wisdom or advice for the other non-traditional engineers out there?

[00:35:07] Jenna Ritten: [00:35:07] I think the biggest one, it would be, it sounds simple enough, but it's much harder and practice is you can talk yourself out of doing anything. You can overanalyze and come up with a hundred reasons why you shouldn't do something, but at the end of the day none of it means anything like you don't know until you try. If you want to have this monumental of a shift in your life and in your career, and you want to see this monumental of change, it's going to take some courage and it's going to take some work and it's going to take some time. If you're really looking to make the change, then you're really going to have to just go out and try it.

[00:35:48]You really have to dive in head first and commit and dedicate all of your time to learning and networking and doing all the things. At the end of it, If you're putting in the time, you'll see results. I've never seen anyone put in the time and put in the effort and not see results.

[00:36:06]It's going to be scary and you're going to be like, "why am I doing this?" And you're going to think to yourself sometimes, "this was a mistake. I should've never done this." You're going to doubt yourself. It's you just have to trust in the process and trust in the work and wait until you come out the other side.

[00:36:24] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:36:24] So true. Even just reflecting on my own experience in my recent programming, it's a hundred percent resilience and that persistence all the time. So thank you so much, Jenna. This has been amazing. I think a lot of people are going to really resonate with what you've shared here.

[00:36:41]Kate Martin: [00:36:41] Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the apprenticeship.io podcast. You can learn more about apprenticeships and find us online at www.apprenticeship.io. Don't forget to follow us on Spotify, and subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:36:59] Want to get a shout out on the podcast or support our work? Become a patron at www.patreon.com/apprenticeshipio.

[00:37:07] Until next time, we're rooting for you.