ExtraHop is spending this week celebrating International Women's Day (March 8th) by hearing from some of the brilliant, passionate women so integral to this company and the tech industry as a whole. How'd they get into STEM? What advice do they have for other women and girls? Gear up for a whole week of blogs from the women of ExtraHop, from the engineering departments to marketing and everything in between. Happy International Women's Day!
My dad has always loved technology. Our household was an early-adopter household, and it was exciting to see the gadgets he'd bring home with all the promise of making our lives better.
In college, I inherited my brother's computer. As a communication enthusiast, I couldn't believe that I could write my best friend a letter and send it with the flourish of a Unix command. But the computer was old, and there was no Geek Squad on speed dial. So I learned how to fix whatever broke—from hardware upgrades to software updates to building my first box from the case up. I was hooked. And as word got around, I'd get calls from strange guys who'd heard from Darryl in my O-chem class that I knew how to fix computers. (Always around midterms when computers seemed particularly prone to self-destructing and leaving students frantic.)
As much as I loved science, technology excited me more. I ditched my plans for medical school and got a job at my local internet service provider. I started at the help desk and found that I particularly loved helping people learn how to solve problems. And I was good at it, too! I moved quickly to a senior position at the company and into network support.
As it turns out, working the help desk is a fantastic way to learn about the value of technical writing. Instead of taking ten calls, you can provide an easy way for customers to solve their own problems. As a technology consumer myself, I always prefer to find answers on my own. I started to write knowledgebase articles and manage the website.
And now I lead a team of technical writers who are also challenging existing models of documentation. My team is excited to identify new ways to help a modern audience get help quickly and in a way that best serves their needs.
The one thing I would tell anyone at the beginning of their career is that there are nearly endless opportunities in STEM. As someone who didn't have any interest in coding, I might not have realized that there are an incredible amount of diverse roles and paths that can fit almost any interest. I'm not an engineer, but I love working at a company that is innovative and at the front-edge of changing how an entire industry solves problems—and I've found a way to be a part of that.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.extrahop.com/company/blog/2017/women-in-tech-jeena-kahn/