To mark Women in STEM day 2023, we interviewed experts across CARTO to hear advice and reflections on a career in STEM.
February 11th is the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This day aims to celebrate the achievements of women across STEM research and industry, and inspire future generations to consider careers in these fields.
With these aims in mind, we quizzed some of CARTO’s female staff about what a career in STEM is really like - and this is what they said!
Here are a few conclusions after hearing from the team:
- While we often talk about STEM as one “thing,” there is in fact a huge range of roles and skill sets required to make a tech company work. Careers in tech aren’t always just about data and coding, but also about communication and problem solving.
- Reflecting this, you don’t have to have a specific background to work in tech. Skills and experience can be found in so many places, and having a diverse range of voices is so valuable to an organization.
- Something that was frequently mentioned was “curiosity” - being curious about data, tech and customer problems is a hugely important quality in tech.
What does your day-to-day look like? My day-to-day is usually spent (surprise, surprise) working with (spatial) data, from data-wrangling to developing modeling frameworks, and lately developing data science tools. Beside the technical work, my work also involves mentoring junior colleagues and engaging with stakeholders, from clients to product-owners.
Where did you go to uni and what did you study there? I did my BSc and MSc in Physics at the University of Milan, and then went to do a PhD in Applied Statistics at the University of Southampton
What is a common misconception about a STEM career? That you need somehow to be gifted to succeed in a STEM career, while enjoying solving difficult problems and having a creative attitude are what you really need (plus of course a lot of hard work!).
Why should someone want to work in STEM or for a tech company? If you have a curious mind and enjoy solving difficult problems then a career in STEM is a great choice. And even more so if you work for a tech company, where you are at the forefront of innovation and will be able to work in a highly data-driven environment.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career like yours? Besides being very good at statistics and coding, be ready to quickly learn new tools and methods, as well as to be able to explain in a clear way your work to other specialists and non-specialists.
What does your day-to-day look like? As an SE, I'm the first technical point of contact with potential customers and my main goal is to understand prospects' pain-points, challenges, and business needs. I am often the bridge between potential customer needs and other technical teams across CARTO including IT, Product, Data Engineering, and Support. Everyday I sync with teams internally, build demos, visual assets, and attend client-facing meetings to better discover and understand issues companies are facing and how we at CARTO can help.
Where did you go to uni and what did you study there? University of Colorado at Boulder in the US - Studied Geography and Ecology with a dash of Anthropology.
What made you want to work in tech? For me it was a combination of things when I joined the tech industry: (a) I enjoy working with data, (b) I wanted a company to grow and learn new skills, (c) I wanted exposure to many different verticals on the market, and (d) I love working remotely and having autonomy where I live. Many tech roles offer a mix of these things and in my opinion was a great career step.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career like yours? I'd say please reach out and connect with myself and other Solutions Engineers on LinkedIn! Would be delighted to chat and brainstorm ideas based on your life and career goals. Find me on LinkedIn here!
What does your day-to-day look like? A day in the life of a CSM starts with some caffeine and a comfy workspace! After cracking open the laptop for the day, a CSM will likely attend, host - and organize - meetings, training, webinars, blogs, and everything in between!
The customer success role can fluctuate from day to day as you work with all departments in CARTO and your client's company! One day might be focused on marketing efforts, inviting clients to events or webinars, and other days might be more focused on understanding the goals of the project a client is looking to accomplish through CARTO and making sure they have the knowledge to reach them.
Where did you go to uni and what did you study there? At Florida State University (go ‘Noles!) I studied Environmental Science and Education for my undergraduate degrees. Loved FSU so much, stayed for a Masters degree in GIS.
What made you want to work in tech? Working in spatial analytics and GIS came naturally as someone who was interested in solutions. Time and time at university, we would collect data, and analyze it using computers and machines. It all seemed to end up statistically processed and presented on a map, which made data-driven decision-making possible! I wanted to hone in on the skills that would uncover the best solution to a problem.
What do you love most about your work? It is awesome that working as a CSM allows you to utilize interpersonal skills, as well as technical skills. In the CSM role, there is a great balance between working behind the scenes on technical training/demos while also spending time communicating with teams of people. I love knowing clients by name, as well as the latest techy tools available. As a CSM you get the best of both worlds!
What does your day-to-day look like? Discovery calls with customers to understand business needs, aligning with internal teams to develop meaningful customer solutions, managing lifecycle of opportunity via business tools & maintaining cadence with prospects, prospecting/outbound activities, endless learning and keeping up with technology/state of the industry.
Where did you go to uni and what did you study there? Texas A&M University, Bioenvironmental Sciences (Bachelor of Science)
Did you always want to work in tech? If not, how did you end up here? I like to think geospatial technology found me - I was an Environmental Analyst focused on minimizing environmental & flooding risks on low income residents in Houston, Texas. Managing large data sets via manual efforts was the norm so I wanted to incorporate technology to streamline the environmental assessment process. While exploring technologies, I became absolutely fascinated with mapping tools and web maps and how they enabled me to become more efficient, make complex data more digestible through dashboards for leadership and analyze multiple forms of data all in one place. I luckily found myself a mentor, moved into a geospatial role and the rest is history!
What do you love most about your work? Helping my clients solve problems - by earning their trust I strive to serve as their strategic advisor and enable them to be the hero.
What is a common misconception about a STEM career? Throughout highschool and college, every STEM internship I had either involved field work or long days in the lab. While I got to learn from incredibly intelligent people, I never felt passionate about what I was doing and assumed STEM was not for me. It was not until I started using Geospatial Technology that I found my place.
What does your day-to-day look like? My day-to-day is super varied which is what I love about my job! A typical "day in the life" usually contains the following: meeting with the demand gen team to discuss current projects we're working on, drafting some copy for upcoming campaigns, reviewing metrics for ongoing projects, meeting with our partners to discuss our marketing initiatives, exchanging ideas with other teams (mostly product marketing, partners & sales). Oh and probably listening to a webinar we're hosting!
Where did you go to uni and what did you study there? Arabic Language & Literature at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and Msc Marketing at the University of Glasgow.
What do you love most about your work? Probably the fact that I'm genuinely interested & excited by what CARTO does and believe that we're building a product that's innovative and has a true impact in our space. I also love the day to day of my job as it's a highly collaborative role that challenges both my creativity & analytical skills. And on top of that, I get to work with amazing, very smart & passionate people.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career like yours? Understanding the product & market is without a doubt super important. But don't let yourself think that if you're not a tech expert, you can't work in the tech space. If you're curious & like to learn, this shouldn't be a blocker. Look for a company who educates the market (usually an indicator that "learning & teaching" is in the company's DNA) and ideally, start with a customer-facing role. After a while, you'll be surprised with how many concepts you can get really comfortable with.
We hope you enjoyed hearing from our team, and that they inspired you as much as they do us!
Are you a student looking to get into a career in tech? Or an educator looking to inspire the next generation? We offer free CARTO accounts to students and educators - so get a head start with your Spatial Data Science skills now!
We also have a limited number of free tickets reserved for people from underrepresented backgrounds to attend the spatial event of the year - the Spatial Data Science Conference! These events are held in both London & New York - you can find out more here.