Introducing Abigail Foreman, Software Developer
What is your role and current job?
I’m a Software Developer at Picnic which is an AdTech startup creating socially inspired mid-article mobile ads. I’ve been at Picnic since July 2020 and this is my first role as a developer after completing my Software Engineering bootcamp at General Assembly. My day-to-day tasks include working on our self-serve ad creation platform and developing new tools for internal and external use.
On the side, I run an illustration and design Instagram account with my best friend, called Miss Gloria Design. We design graphics covering issues such as body positivity, period poverty, women’s rights and sex education, and we’ve collaborated with brands such as Vogue, Primark, CoppaFeel, World Child Cancer, VO5 and Clarks. It’s great to have something outside of work that challenges and excites me and I’m so lucky to work on it with my best friend of 10+ years!
How did you get into tech?
I think my passion for graphic design and illustration led me to tech. I taught myself Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign when I was in sixth form and designed club night posters during most of my time at Uni. I naturally became curious about web design and so I started asking questions and shadowing the web developer at my first job in London. I realised how creative and technical it was, which massively appealed to me.
I quit my digital executive role at the end of 2019 and embarked on a 3 month full-time Software Engineering bootcamp at General Assembly which led me to my role at Picnic shortly after. This was all taking place while Covid was arriving in the UK so it was a pretty wild and memorable time!
What have the biggest challenges been as a woman or non-binary person in tech?
The biggest challenge was probably convincing my family that quitting my job and using all my personal savings from the last 15 years to learn how to code was a good idea! They had no idea what coding was or why I wanted to drop everything and get into it. You can’t blame them. There was absolutely no mention of software engineering or computer science at my all girls secondary school in Kent.
That being said, I feel like I’ve joined tech at a pretty amazing time. There are so many communities offering support such as Triangirls, Code First Girls, DevelopHer and She Can Code which I’m pretty sure were not around 15+ years ago. I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t have taken the risk to career change if I hadn’t seen other women doing the same thing.
Have you overcome any of these issues? If so, how?
I guess you could say I’ve overcome that issue by finishing my bootcamp, being offered a role in tech and trying my best to explain what I do to my parents. I’m sure they’ve spread the word that their daughter is a software engineer, which might encourage other girls from Kent to do the same! I also volunteered to teach Python and Web Dev courses with Code First Girls to help spread the word that tech isn’t just for men and to encourage women and non-binary people into tech.
What advice would you give others in a similar position?
Believe in yourself! Don’t let anyone discourage you from career changing if you know it’s right for you. Learning a completely new skill that challenges you, enables you to build things and get a new job is incredibly empowering.
Are there any resources you recommend sharing?
I try to remember to bookmark useful tools when I find them as you never know when you might need it in the future. This was my latest bookmark: https://www.joshwcomeau.com/shadow-palette/ — a highly customisable CSS shadow palette generator!
When did you first hear about Triangirls?
I heard about Triangirls through my housemate who is a UX designer and part of the Triangirls team. I recently attended their IWD event which focused on leadership in tech and I got to hear from some amazing speakers within the tech industry.
What have you learnt about yourself in the past year?
I’ve learnt that I am ready to take on certain responsibilities that I had never considered before or had been too scared to accept previously. For example, I recently led the hiring process for a new junior developer at my company. This was my first time conducting a job interview and although I was nervous I learnt so much and gained a lot of confidence.