Meet The Role Models is a technology community series which highlights the stories of The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models. The success of the Ada Lovelace Initiative depends on the participation of technology professionals across Ireland and since September 2015, The Ada Lovelace Initiative voluntary speakers have reached over 5000 secondary school students between them.
In the last instalment of Meet The Role Models, we had the opportunity to speak to Caroline Hynes, who is currently the Director of Global Product Management at Oneview Healthcare. In today’s interview, we speak to our A.L.I. technology role model Rafaela Jopia from Tapadoo.
MEET RAFAELA JOPIA
Hi Rafaela! How would you describe your current role?
I work as an iOS Specialist in my current job, I develop software (apps) for iPhones and iPads for Tapadoo in Dublin. Most of the time I’m writing code apart from when we are discussing the technical details required to build a good final product as software developers can control and modify the entire development process behind an application or program.
What attracted you to this type of work?
I’ve always had an interest in finding out how things worked since I was a kid when I used to dismantle my toys. I got a computer when I was 11 years old. This really engaged and interested me about how computers work, from the hardware to the software, and it was a total new world for me. That was the motivation I had to want to study in a technology college. I didn’t have much motivation from my family to choose a technology career path and to get into a software development career due to the lack of members in my family working in the area of I.T. However, I was lucky to have great opportunities to be engaged with technology growing up and had a lot of encouragement to study from my parents.
I didn’t know much about this career path until I started studying in a technology college and it was there that I started to discover this whole new world of infinite opportunities. I started as a computer technician and later on I ended up going to the software development area.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
I believe it’s the every day challenge I have to execute my tasks. I learn something new every day to find the best way to write code because technology is always in a continuous evolution. I enjoy sitting with colleagues for pair programming or getting to learn how a new technology works together and learning more from my co-workers. The opportunity we have to help each other, reaching the end of a project and seeing that we have produced a great product that makes a client happy is one of the best parts of my job.
What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?
Some people think software development is a career path only for ‘geeks’ or just because someone works in technology they can troubleshoot your computer problems. Each area in the STEM has its different study path.
What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?
The main reason I was motivated to get involved with A.L.I. was the aim of the initiative itself; looking to bring more girls into STEM and to show them lots of women that work in this area to spark their interest in technology.
Another reason was the possibility to share a little bit of my story of life, maybe to be able to motivate someone and show them that girls can be part of the IT area, because sometimes what we need is just this encouragement to know we are capable. When I was a child I had no idea I could be where I am today, due to the lack of knowledge. When I was at school, it was made obvious that boys would follow a more technical career and girls would do something completely different.
How would you describe your school visit for A.L.I. – My Story?
It was an outstanding experience in my life! I had the opportunity to share my professional story and to be listened by young people who were open to the knowledge! Having the opportunity to encourage a teenager, show them new possibilities and excite their curiosity is one of the best things we can do to contribute to their bright future. I would definitely do something like this again.
Did you feel differently before and after your visit?
Before the presentation I was nervous (because I dislike public speaking!) but I was very excited for the opportunity and I put in a lot of effort to make a presentation that was full of content.
At the end of the presentation I got a lot of questions from boys and girls and I was really happy to know that there was a lot of interest from many of the girls and I had the privilege to answer them.
Now that you have completed your school visit, would you have any tips for other role models?
Just be yourself, tell your true story and tell it from the heart. Make your presentation really simple and remember what motivated you to be where you are now. If you could even motivate one girl in your visit, wouldn’t that be great?
Who is your own role model, and why?
I probably have a few role models, like all of the women in IT I have met during my career – I truly believe we can inspire each other. I believe my career role model is a Project Manager I had when I started in this career path. He motivated me to grow in my profession, indicating the right direction for me to go.
We would like to thank Rafaela Jopia for sharing her story on Meet The Role Models and also for volunteering to visit students during this past school year with The Ada Lovelace Initiative . If you would like to learn more about The Ada Lovelace Initiative, please visit our A.L.I page.