My daughter is a force to be reckoned with. Morgan was born at 25 weeks and 1 day weighing only 1 pound and 5 ounces. Before she was able to leave the hospital, she had multiple milestones to overcome including learning how to breathe. Something that we take for granted, my daughter worked hard to accomplish at such a young age.
For this reason, she is my “why” and Morgan continues to teach me more than she realizes.
My daughter built her first app in kindergarten and was hooked from that point. Her focus was incredibly inspiring each time she found the next cool app or game to build. I wanted to find that connection too! She was getting to have all the fun while I was stuck “adulting”.
Morgan, at the age of 5, would ask me, “Mommy do you love your job?” I would always tell her yes, but I knew there was a void that I was not sure how to fulfill.
We hear it time and time again, “Find a job you love, and it will never feel like a job.” But you never truly know how difficult that is until you’re in the midst of searching for somewhere you fit in.
In 2016, I joined Cisco Meraki as a Consulting Systems Engineer – it was the BEST. DECISION. EVER. This is where I began to really understand just how much someone could #LoveWhereYouWork.
Working at Cisco Meraki was a test of understanding various customer’s environments and challenges, with no two networks being the same. Another challenge was being apart of the State, Local government and education (SLED) team. These IT teams were needing to simplify their work while being as efficient as possible with limited resources.
From there, I was able to see value in understand how to leverage APIs. Through the value of APIs, I was able to help to speed up deployments and create amazing solutions focusing on student safety. And through the support of our amazing leadership team, I was encouraged to start learning to code since it was quickly turning into a passion. It was a powerful moment for me in that my leaders saw a passion and encouraged it to flourish.
Now I get to create amazing solutions for customers from large enterprise organizations to universities with various Cisco partners leading the charge.
Yes, there were some immediate benefits of my new-found passion, like being able to build and work with some amazing customers as well as present at Cisco Live in Barcelona. But the big one for me was officially being “legit” (in her words) to Morgan. This led me to wonder if other kids might be inspired by my role at Cisco Meraki.
Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, there were few major industries that made up the economy. Unfortunately, technology was not one of them. As a woman, the choices were far less. To help reach young children, and especially young girls, I wanted to find opportunities that allowed me to help shape the future. I was able to find organizations like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and DigiGirlz Camp to donate my time and knowledge to with the help of Cisco’s Time2Give benefit. This is where we get five whole days every year to give back to organizations that we’re passionate about.
I was invited to present at Microsoft DigiGirlz Camp in Dallas, and create a fun project for young women in high school with an interest in technology. My daughter even came along as my lab assistant since she is also learning HTML/CSS. Throughout the experience there were so many questions and excitement around my career.
My favorite question of the day however was, “Miss Courtney how can I be like you?”
I never saw myself as more than an engineer who found a career she loves. My response was simple, “I appreciate you wanting to be like me, but I would love for you to find your path and passion in technology. There are so many facets in our industry and I would be humbled and honored to have you as a peer.”
After the event, I received a heartwarming message from one of my student’s parents on LinkedIn. He and I had worked together in a previous role, but his daughter at been present at the camp and absolutely loved my session. It made his week to know that his daughter was being introduced to technology in such a way.
Moments like this make me realize that I am constantly being watched by young women who aspire to have a career in technology. And as with my daughter, I will aspire to lead by example.
My daughter and I have always had an amazing bond, but now we get to code together too! It is not every day that we get to meet our heroes, but I gave birth to mine. Morgan, thank you for making me a better mother, engineer and overall woman.
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