Mary joined Featurespace 3 years ago as a Content Engineer, helping to make technical concepts more understandable for a wider audience. After being promoted to Senior Content Engineer, she decided she wanted to apply what she had learnt in a more hands on way and made the transition to Product Owner – working directly on the product!

Why did you choose STEM?

For me, working in STEM was a surprise! My degree is in Education but whilst studying I realised being a teacher wasn’t what I wanted to do, and that I was actually quite interested in what my friends who were studying computer science were doing. I did a Coding for Girls course and tried to get involved in more technical or business related extracurricular activities to add to my CV, and decided I’d try my luck at getting a job that was more technical focused.

Talk us through your journey in STEM and what you have achieved?

When I graduated, I got a job that combined education with technology – working at a university helping to create and deliver content for an online masters course. This was a great way to get a foot into the door as it was related to my discipline of study, but had that technical aspect too. After a year there, I applied to my first role at Featurespace as a technical author, and to my surprise I got the job!

I have now worked for Featurespace for 3 years – I spent my first two years working as a technical author and was also promoted to a senior author after the first year. I learnt so much in this role about how to grasp technical concepts and make them more understandable for a wider audience, but I was looking for a chance to apply what I had learnt in a more hands on way and wanted to get involved in developing the product directly. Luckily for me, an opportunity came up to interview for a role as a Product Owner, which I did, and managed to secure the role. I’ve been working in this role for a year now and it has been an amazing experience to be so directly involved in the development process.

How does Featurespace support your goals and ambitions?

I think firstly by giving me a chance to pivot into the industry – I applied to Featurespace on a whim not really thinking I’d get that far since I lacked a traditional technical background, but whilst we discussed this at the interview, they were much more focused on my willingness to learn and be a team player. I then found when I joined I did not feel out of place in the slightest, and everyone was so willing to teach me to bridge any gaps in knowledge I had. Whilst at Featurespace, I have had access to a lot of training, with a Udemy license which has such a wide range of courses, as well as doing both an instructor led Product training course and in person Scrum training. I feel very confident in my own abilities now and have been supported by Featurespace in this every step of the way.

What advice would you give to women looking to succeed in STEM?

The main thing I think is to know that you can belong anywhere you want to – even if you think you’re ‘not technical’ on paper, you may be surprised! There are so many roles in tech that don’t require you to code or know everything about everything. There have certainly been times an entire conversation has gone over my head, but sometimes being the one to ask ‘stupid questions’ (although these don’t exist) opens up new perspectives and viewpoints. I could never have predicted where my career would take me and I’m so happy to be where I am, and would encourage women who have always thought STEM wasn’t for them to maybe give it a second thought!

Mary Collins, Product Owner