Carolyn Ryan was surrounded by technology while growing up in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Both of her parents were computer science majors at Northern IllinoisUniversity and her father has worked as an IT consultant for more than two decades.
“I’ve always had an idea that whatever I ended up doing in college would be related to technology, but I wasn’t sure what that would be,” says Ryan, a sophomore. “I wasn’t very tech driven in high school, so being a direct admit into the School of Informatics and Computing was a big leap of faith for me.”
An introductory informatics course solidified Ryan’s passion for tech. Now she is majoring in Informatics and minoring in Business and Human-Centered Computing. She is also an intern for CEWiT’s Web Design Special Interest Group.
She first got interested in CEWiT when she befriended former lead intern for Web Design, Kira Bushman,last year.
“We were teammates for a group project and she encouraged me to come to a Donuts & Design event that the Web SIG was hosting,” recalls Ryan. “I really liked the topic of the event and I continued going to the Web SIG’s events.”
The following semester, Ryan applied to be a volunteer intern for the Wed Design SIG. She then applied for a paid intern position at the end of the spring 2017 term.
“I really attribute my initial involvement with CEWiT to Kira, who was amazing at encouraging me to come to events and making me feel comfortable learning about web design, which was something I had never really considered as a career choice before then,” says Ryan. “Kira was a big advocate for encouraging and promoting women in technology, which inspired me to do the same. Being a member of CEWiT has given me a platform and provided me with amazing resources to inspire, encourage, and promote women in tech.”
Ryan says she has experience first-hand the gender divide that CEWiT is trying to close, making the organization an important part of her life here at IU.
“As an Informatics major, you see the gender gap in your classes and labs, which can be frustrating and difficult to adjust to, so knowing that there’s an organization on campus there to advocate for you as a minority is reassuring if nothing else,” says Ryan. “It’s easy to feel alone, overwhelmed, or simply inferior when you’re one of four girls in your 80-student lecture hall. This dynamic definitely made it more difficult for me to ask for help and just feel comfortable in class. CEWiTis a community of women that want to make sure you have the resources, voice, and opportunity to learn about tech in a way you feel comfortable and confident.”
So, Ryan is doing all she can as a member of CEWiT and as a student in STEM to encourage otherwomen to take a leap of faith and enter the tech world, even if it is intimidating. And, when in doubt, Google it.“If you want to start learning but don’t know how, Google it.
“If you want to start learning but don’t know how, Google is definitely your friend,” advises Ryan.“I’ve found that you can Google almost anything about web design and find the answer online. If you’re looking for on-campus resources, CEWiT is here to connect you with opportunities and people to start your journey. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out!”
Since she is only in her sophomore year, Ryan’s post-grad future is unclear. However, she does hope tohave a career in website development and user experience design. In the meantime, Ryan will continue to learn and grow as a CEWiT affiliate.
When Ryan is not studying or participating in CEWiT’s Web Design SIG, she is working as a student manager at the IU Auditorium and as an intern on the Design and User Testing Team for the Serve IT Clinic. She also enjoys watching Marvel movies with her friends.