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Juno Jones Spotlight | Anna Arsentieva

Women in Non-Traditional Fields Series

Anna Arsentieva, Software Developer

Here at Juno Jones, we are not just obsessed with safety shoes. We are also passionate about helping to create space for women in non-traditional fields. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Anna Arsentieva about her experiences working in the software industry and being a woman in STEM. Anna is a software developer and does volunteer work on the side with various organizations to promote the tech field to young women.

What’s your name and job title?

My name is Anna Arsentieva, and I am a Software Developer.

Whenever Anna has a new company start-up on her system, she has to travel and act as on-site support. 
Here she is in a customer mill.

Where do you work?

I work at MAJIQ, which is known as being a global leader in innovative enterprise software solutions and services for the pulp, paper, and non-woven industry.

What do you do there?

This is an excellent question! I do what I love the most: solve problems and try to bring value. Just like many of my brilliant colleagues, I wear different hats, starting from software engineering, process improvement, sales cases, project management, as well as technical project management. That is what I love the most; I get to do so many exciting things that keep me challenged, like implementing a new feature, to mentoring interns.

What’s the ratio of women to men like, and do you feel there is a disparity or gender gap in the software development industry?

Currently, at MAJIQ, there is a 10:1 man to woman software engineer ratio. The tech industry now does not have enough women in STEM-related jobs. I am hoping that with every new day there will be more and more women in tech, and that is one of the reasons why I volunteer with organizations that support women to pursue careers in tech like Chick Tech and Women Who Code. I am also a video creator on YouTube, with the hope that it will be viewed by women who will be encouraged to follow their dreams or by men who will support women who desire to enter the tech industry.

What challenges have you encountered?

Every single one of us encounters challenges, either internal or external. I firmly believe it is what you make out of them or how you handle them that makes you the person you are or want to be.

If I were to give you an example: I grew up in Eastern Europe, and at age 15 I needed to drop out of school in the middle of the school year due to an unfavorable financial situation. My family could not afford to pay for tuition and books due to my mom's illness. My brother and I needed to find a job to help financially. Long story short, I knew that I had to try and find a solution that would allow me to continue my studies and support my family. After a month of being out of school and looking for possible solutions, I was lucky to find a charity organization that agreed to pay for the remainder of the year, so I could complete the grade.

During the same time, I was fortunate enough to find a job that allowed me to work part-time (which was extremely rare in my home country). That way I was able to continue working on getting my education and helping my family financially as much as I could. During those years of school, I discovered that I was good at math and programming! However, when I told my childhood friend (a computer science graduate) that I wanted to become a software developer, he answered, "that field is not for girls.” I got the same answer from my relatives. Thankfully, I had one person in my life that genuinely believed in me, encouraged and supported me to pursue my dream. Today I am proud to call him husband and father of our daughter! 

How else have you met challenges or solved these types of problems?

Like any human being, I got overwhelmed by being afraid and insecure, however, somehow I found the motivation and desire to not give up. Because of the support system that I have (aka my husband), I know that I can do anything, or at least that I can do my best to solve the challenges that I face. My approach is to take problems one step at the time until they are resolved. 

What advice do you have for young women who want to enter tech?

It is OK to be afraid, fail, and not know everything; it's completely natural in tech (especially in this industry since it grows so fast). No one, listen to me NO ONE, knew everything at the start. Everyone had to start somewhere, and through trial and error, new knowledge and new skills are gained. Even the super-smart people do not know everything. They learn from making mistakes and learning from them, from experimenting, allowing themselves the freedom of exploration, and welcoming failure. Please do yourself a favor: fail fast, fail often, and learn from it.

Have you had a mentor?

I have been blessed to work for and be mentored by amazing people. I am extremely thankful to Patrick Nazzaro and Keith Zackrone, who despite their insanely busy schedules, always find time to mentor and guide me in my journey. (I will tell you a little secret: I do not make it easy for them!). Thanks to both of them, I feel like I know what I am doing and know where I am going.

What’s something specific someone has done to help you in your career?

A major thing is that people have believed in me and supported me. Patrick hired me even though I was really "green"; he hired me for my attitude and trained me to acquire the skills needed. He created an environment where I felt safe to learn and explore opportunities. Even on the days when I did not believe in myself, my husband was the person who supported me and guided me into finding my way back to believing. 

Thank you, Anna, for allowing us a peek into your life and for your dedication to inspiring other women in the tech industry. Women like you pave the way for generations to come.

If you are a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field and want to connect with others like you, please sign up for the Juno Jones newsletter below, where you'll hear about the launch of our safety boot company (discount alert!), and receive an invite to join our Facebook community, Hazard Girls (Women in Non-Traditional Fields).

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