“Especially after doing my internship, I definitely want to work in tech. I don’t really know what sector, what side of tech, but I do really enjoy doing IT because I really love the customer service aspect of it. I like that I get to be working with people and technology at the same time.”
Greymouth, on the rugged west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, is known more for its numerous hiking trails and long Māori and colonial history than for its tech industry. But that doesn’t mean that young people brought up in the small town can’t have an aptitude for ICT.
Elicia knew from a young age that tech was an interest. “The first time that sparked a proper interest was when, in our last year of primary school, a friend and I decided we wanted to try and build…t he best way to describe it was a crossover between the game The Sims and Facebook,” she says. “We thought it would be super easy and we could just make it happen and then we figured it was not that simple and we didn’t continue it. But that was the first time it was a proper interest of mine.”
It just made sense
“I just always want to know how things work,” she says. “I guess that’s always been my thing. For some reason, in ICT things clicked for me, when I learned why it did the thing it did, it just made sense.”
When, in year 11, the opportunity arose to study Cisco IT Essentials after school Elicia jumped at the opportunity, albeit with some reservations.
“I dragged one of my friends into it because I was the only girl that wanted to do it, the rest of them were guys, so I made one of my friends join me, so I wasn’t the only girl in the class,” she says. She’d heard “horror stories” of girls being treated badly in male-dominated classrooms, but “I didn’t have that in the Cisco course… everyone was really supportive.”
Elicia had other challenges to overcome. “I was always very anxious to try anything if I didn’t think I was going to be perfect at it first go,” she says, but with encouragement from Networking Academy instructor Tom Flannagan, cofounder of Training for Life, she learned to overcome this anxiety. “One of the things that Tom taught me was that you don’t learn unless you make mistakes,” says Elicia.
Tom helped in other ways too. “Tom was the first tutor that taught me in a way that I understood,” she says. “In later years I got diagnosed with ADHD, but he noted that I had a different learning style, even then, and he just taught me really well and I really enjoyed it.”
The practicality of the course helped too. “I just really liked how interactive it was, it wasn’t just sitting there and reading textbooks and regurgitating information, you were interacting and building things, playing with wires, doing stuff,” she enthuses.
Elicia went on to get an internship with a leading software company in New Zealand. “They offered me the grad role which is a year-long, and theoretically afterwards you get offered a job to move in as an associate,” she says, adding that she’s a bit concerned about the economic situation affecting that.
In the meantime, Elicia is completing a Diploma in Web Development and Design remotely, through Open Polytechnic.
After her study and experience, Elicia knows what she wants for her future. “Especially after doing that internship, I definitely want to work in tech,” she says. “I don’t really know what sector, what side of tech, but I do really enjoy doing IT because I really love the customer service aspect of it. I like that I get to be working with people and technology at the same time.”
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