This month Mijung Kim, Technical Consultant with Blackboard, South Korea encourages us all to find our passion and for Mijung that just happened to lead to a career in STEM. She also reflects on the positive changes that are happening for female developers in an industry that has been historically male dominated.
Q: What first sparked your interest in technology and ultimately led you to the career path you took?
In South Korea where I grew up, the educational opportunities, particularly private are boundless and at school my favourite subjects were always math and science. I was fortunate to be able to extend my interest in both these subjects outside of school and although general computer science classes were widely available, it wasn’t until university that I considered going down this path and ultimately majoring in computer science.
Q: How do you define success and what motivates you?
I’ve always had a passion for learning and with the various projects I’m involved in it’s usually as part of a team. Whilst I have the technical knowledge, what is motivating is hearing different perspectives from the team members I’m working with. It’s a continual path to learning new ways of thinking and operating within my role and the organisation.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be successful in your role at Blackboard and what do you enjoy most about your role?
- Communication is the foundation for everything and it’s especially important when working in a team.
- Understanding the basic principles of what your role entails which can be critical during times of rapid change.
- Embracing adaptability can help you overcome just about anything.
Q: How do you keep up-to-date with the latest developments in technology?
It’s not easy to keep abreast of all that’s happening in the world of technology particularly when you are working in the area every day, however I’ve made it a rule to study in my own time at least an hour a day either via YouTube or other sites so I can keep on top of the latest trends. Many of my friends are also developers and we’ve formed a community which is a wonderful resource of ideas, inspiration and general support as we all hail from different organisations and industries.
Q: What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career to date?
I think most people would say mobile technology has been the most recent and impactful transformation. The fact we have access to information immediately has altered how we live. When I was younger and studying at school there was no Google, we had to rely on the library or wait to use a desktop computer at home, these days students have information at their fingertips and so many more tools at their disposal to aid in their studies.
Q: How can schools, professional organisations and companies work together to empower women entering STEM?
Blackboard is a company that has an abundance of strong successful women who are encourage and demonstrate why choosing to go into a STEM field is of benefit. I have female developer friends who when first entering the field didn’t have the easiest of entries into STEM given the negative stereotypes that existed, but I can honestly say this has changed today. In South Korea and no doubt many other regions across the globe the tide is turning and we’re seeing acceptance of girls completing STEM subjects at school and pursuing a career in STEM. There are greater opportunities for women after graduating to work in roles like what I’m doing at Blackboard and I hope that increases as we look to the future.
Q: Do you have any advice for young girls looking to pursue a career in STEM?
Once you decide on a career in STEM then go forth and actively pursue it, never give up!
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Perseverance and look to do something you enjoy. I’ve always loved math and when looking at higher education and career options, I could clearly see the potential of not only putting those math skills to use but also in using problem solving skills and critical thinking within the different fields of STEM. Maths is only one element of STEM and whilst I’ve discovered there are many skills to be obtained working in this area, ultimately it was maths that has forged the direction of my career.
Q: Are there any family, colleagues, friends or people in the industry you particularly look up to or are inspired by?
I’ve always been inspired by my parents; their generation has never shunned hard work and they have instilled this ethic in me. Whatever the task might be, provided you put in the effort, you can do anything in this world!