Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about.
You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co. Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live, this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
May 2020 features Rachel Skelton
Rachel Skelton is currently a Junior Software Engineer at Covéa Insurance. She also manages a group of interns and apprentices as well as co-hosts and organises Leeds Frontend.
We initially met at a Code First: Girls coding course at Sky Betting and Gaming where we both taught a group of women how to build their first website from scratch over the summer. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed following along with her social media posts about tech and her hobbies that she posts about on her Instagram!
Today we cover the topics on her journey into tech, community importance, her hobbies with Lime and Feather and more! I hope that you find her as inspiring as I did during our chat. ✨
Listen to our conversation
Rachel’s journey into technology
Rachel’s been navigating through her career in technology for 9 years! Her journey began from college. She didn’t really know what to do once she finished school, so as she was looking at her options, she spotted tech as a potential career.
Enjoying her time at college doing IT Software Development, Rachel decided to go to University and do a degree in Computing. Straight after university, she landed her first web developer job at a small telecoms company.
After gaining experience and upskilling her technical skills, she went onto a couple of jobs that she later discovered just weren’t quite right for her. Ending up in Application Support and Deployment Engineer, she didn’t have the chance to code as much. Missing development, Rachel began to reach out to different communities in Leeds. After looking for a development role, then being let go, Rachel continued to persist on which has led her to her current Software Engineer role at Covéa Insurance.
“It’s honestly been like the best role I’ve had. The best experience in tech!”
An aspiring leader
Receiving incredible support and personal development opportunities from her current role, Rachel’s mentor encouraged her to do a SWOT analysis of her current skills. This exercise led to her having the fantastic opportunity of leading a small team of interns and apprentices which she’s been doing for four months now.
“I found that I’m a people’s person – I really want to lead people, I actually feel personally that’s my strength!”
Rachel has been upskilling her management experience with support from her manager, she’s taken up a leadership college course.
The importance of community
As Rachel was getting herself involved in the tech community, she had met her friend Naomi through LinkedIn who is heavily involved in Code First: Girls here in Leeds. Rachel and Naomi both ended up teaching at the same Code First: Girls course I was teaching in as well last summer at Sky Betting and Gaming (small world!) 😂
An opportunity came up to revive a meet-up in Leeds, Rachel shared the hilarious story of getting Naomi involved in the organisation of the meet-up. Today, they both run the Leeds Frontend meet-up where they organise speakers to share talks on everything frontend!
“I think it’s super important because you’re all on similar pages. So for example when I got let go from my job, I went to the people in the tech community who made me feel better about my situation. The support from the people who are in tech I think really makes a difference.”
How can you get involved in your community?
We recognised during our chat that not everyone is comfortable with networking, so Rachel shared a variety of great advice on getting involved with your local community.
- The tech way – start online! You’ve got LinkedIn, Twitter, Meetup.com. These are such a great place to connect and get started. The plus side of COVID19 is that there are quite a few online events now, so get joining! Fun fact: there are over 50 tech meet-ups in Leeds.
- Twitter – start tweeting! There are so many different challenges you can find through various hashtags e.g. #100DaysofCode. Jump into conversations, connect with others and pay it forward if you can.
- LinkedIn – connect with people in the industries you are interested in.
Lime and Feather 🌿
In addition to Rachel’s love for everything tech, she also runs a small illustrations, art and clay shop where everything is handmade. Lime and Feather first started when Rachel was at her first web development job. She needed somewhere to exercise her creativity — so she started up Etsy.
“I love being creative. You get to be creative with coding and web development, but sometimes being creative away from screens is so needed.”
Currently, Rachel is sharing a lot of interior stuff, drawings (including the process of her artwork) and more! Check out Lime and Feather on Etsy or on Instagram.
2020 – the year of growth and giving back
“What is your 2020 looking like?” I love asking this question because right now, everything seems all doom and gloom with everyone cancelling everything… But I think that it’s important to shed some positivity whenever we can. I loved Rachel’s answer to this question!
She said, “This year is a year of growth, and giving back.”
Rachel shares that she has learned a lot throughout her tech journey. She wants to share her valuable learnings as much as she can.
“I want to develop myself further. How can I be a better person? How can I be a better manager, a better leader, a better developer? How can I carve out a path that helps me and the company?” 👏🏻
She is also planning to do a few more talks this year! Her first talk, “Let go to Leadership” detailing her journey into tech kicked off last Thursday. (We’re so proud of you Rachel!!)
I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready,— Rachel (@Techyrey) May 7, 2020
Physically ready. Don’t know why I’m so nervy who is gonna be like – actually Rachel your life story is a bit different.
And if they do, then looool. I’m in a giddy mood 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/MSniQNjImk