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 is down to the continuous participation of technology professionals across Ireland and since September 2015, voluntary speakers have reached over 5000 secondary school students between them.
Our latest interview features Jen Gore, customer care specialist at Toast Inc.
MEET JEN GORE
Hi Jen! How would you describe your current role?
I am a customer care specialist although formerly the role was described as a technical support specialist. I help our customers troubleshoot hardware and software issues.
What attracted you to this type of career?
I love helping people. Whenever I can help to improve a situation, I feel positive, figuring out problems also interests me so getting to troubleshoot and figure out issues challenges me but also helps me and customers learn more.
What did you study in college?
Journalism, I loved to write and edit and share information but also communicate with people which was a large part of the course. How to interact with people and hear their stories.
What were your favourite subjects when you were in school?
Art, English, French were my favourites. I’ve always been creative, loved to read and write and even now that shows when I get to do up posts, emails, slideshows, posters for events.
What were your favourite hobbies when you were in school?
Reading, drawing and writing were my main hobbies. I was quiet and liked to get lost in other people’ stories or create things myself.
What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?
That customers are difficult to deal with, hard to talk to. While they can be, I get to talk with more patient, kind, helpful people than anything and while troubleshooting with them you get to find out little bits about them and connect with them too and it always feels good to resolve their issues or answer their questions.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
Talking with people from all over the US and also when you’re dealing with a tricky problem to do with hardware or software and you’re working together with someone and you finally resolve it, that’s fantastic!
What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?
It’s incredibly important to encourage women of any age to get involved in tech. It’s such a broad industry. I never thought I would fall into a tech role. I never studied STEM subjects, I was part of a school that never encouraged it and I thought I wasn’t capable. But I was very wrong.
My path is different to others and I want to show that. I tried retail, childminding, journalism before I got a job as an audio-visual tech specialist based in Facebook. I learned on the job about networking, technical troubleshooting, events setup, ticketing systems, event software and that lead to my current role which is very technical and which again I learned a lot on the job.
Just because you may not be a typical STEM person (whatever that is) does not mean there is no place for you in STEM as I have found out one the last 2 years.
How important do you think it is for young girls to have the opportunity to meet female role models in the stem space?
It is so important for women to see themselves represented in typically male dominated spaces. Young women need to know it’s possible to thrive and succeed in STEM by seeing other women in these careers. Women from all backgrounds and all countries.
If you can’t see someone like you in these spaces, how can you be motivated, encouraged or imagine yourself there?
Who is a role model in history that you look up to, and why?
Well, it’s more current history but Alexandria Ocasio – Cortez. A self-confessed science nerd herself, she made it her business to succeed in a white male dominated career even when there seemed to be no space for her, when people made it hard for her and she has always stood up for those who need it most.
Who would you say is your own role model in your career today, and why?
Not just one role model. All the women I work with and also my female friends and family who constantly strive to do better, be better in typically male spaces and careers. They motivate me to claim my space as a woman, include other women in talks, meetings, anywhere and everywhere and show me how being a woman is an attribute in your life and career.
What advice would you give to any young girls considering a tech / stem future?
I think Mae Jemison gives top notch advice in her quote: “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae Jemison, first African American woman astronaut in space.
Thanks so much Jen for taking the time to share your story with us.
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