Take up as much space as you want!

December 7, 2020 | Graduate Profile, Student Life | Dev Academy

Tia Te Hiko is an awesome wāhine Māori who has been living in Australia for the last few years. After resigning from her job on the Gold Coast, Tia moved back to Aotearoa. In June, she was part of the pilot online bootcamp, and she graduated in October.

Tia wanted more flexibility in her work. Having previously worked in accounts and admin positions, Tia was looking for a challenging new career direction that would also give her more freedom.

Like so many people this year, Tia’s plans were changed by COVID-19. “I’d wanted to go travelling and backpacking for quite a while so I finally thought, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna save up, quit this job. A week before I was supposed to leave, I had to cancel because of COVID.” Because Tia had been saving money to travel, she was able to really think about what step she wanted to take next. That’s how Tia ended up coming home to Aotearoa and enrolling in bootcamp.

“Even starting it I didn’t know if I could do this, but I kept going anyway because I was committed … It’s a ride though. Lock in and just go on the ride.”

“I wanted a job where I could just work from my laptop, especially while travelling. I looked up the best ways to make money remotely, and web development was always the top of the list. I did some online training by myself before Dev Academy, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to teach myself everything. I googled what it takes to work in web development and everyone was talking about bootcamps. I looked up heaps of bootcamps, but as soon as I found Dev Academy I thought ‘yup, I’m gonna do this one’. I saw that Dev Academy was launching the Online bootcamp and I realised I could do it in Australia if I wanted to. I ended up coming home to Aotearoa anyway, and I did bootcamp from my parent’s house!”

I looked at doing the on campus bootcamp in Auckland, but the more I thought about it, financially it didn’t make sense for me to move to Auckland when I could just do it at home. My parents probably would have been mad if I was back for a few months and spent the majority of it in Auckland, like ‘you came back to see us, didn’t you?’ It just made sense to do it online.”

Tia working from home during Foundations (the first 5 weeks of the course)
Tia working from home during Foundations (the first 5 weeks of the course)

Studying from home can be a challenge, especially when you’re in someone else’s space, but Tia and her parents made it work.

“In the beginning I would sit out in the kitchen to work, and sometimes they’d be talking to me and I’d be like ‘I can’t talk, stop talking to me’! But they were really good about it and really went out of their way to make an effort to accommodate my needs while I was studying.”

Tia even found that her relationships with her parents shifted during bootcamp, and she started to notice the ways that they wanted to help her.

“I got really frustrated doing a particular challenge, and I couldn’t figure it out. My dad was like ‘let me help you’ and I looked at him like ‘how are you gonna help me?’ and I felt so bad! He came home and said ‘I bought you these massage vouchers for when you get stressed’ and I was like ‘I’m so sorry for being mean’. He was so kind. And it was great having my mum to talk to, even if she didn’t understand the technical stuff. She was really supportive and it was good to talk through my problems with her.”

Tia loved that human skills are part of the curriculum. “You’d think it would just be all tech. It was great that there’s such an emphasis on human skills, that it’s important when you’re trying to find work, or just be a person in the workplace. I love all that stuff anyway. That was part of the reason I wanted to do Dev Academy over any other online bootcamps.”

She particularly appreciated the mindfulness techniques, and the way that teaching and learning is framed as a collaboration.

“You learn best when you have someone to teach, someone next to you to learn with you, and someone above you to teach you. When you’re in a situation where someone is obviously technically better, it’s easy to feel like a burden. But when you’re teaching you’re also learning. In all situations, despite who you’re paired up with, you’re always learning. I just think it’s a cool attitude to bring to working with other people, because everyone is going to be in different spaces. So it helps when you’re feeling frustrated with people to remember we’re all just learning.”

Tia is passionate that people who are thinking about taking on the Bootcamp challenge really throw themselves into the experience. “Even starting it I didn’t know if I could do this, but I kept going anyway because I was committed.”

She wants to advocate for other wāhine Māori and people of colour to get into coding, and change the face of the industry.

“I think it’s very easy to look at tech and think it’s all white guys — which is the exact opposite of everything I am! If you don’t know if space exists for you, make the space.”

“Own that space and take up as much space as you want. Everyone’s winging it — I swear, everyone is googling and looking at old work. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just do it.

If the reason you’re not doing it is because you’re doubting your capability, or doubting that there’s a place for you in tech, know that spaces do exist for you, and you are capable. If anything, we need more people of my demographic in this space.

Take up the space you want. Other people are more than happy to do it. Being a woman and a person of colour is rare in this field, but there’s lots of space to be taken up so take it up! When you don’t see many people who look like you, doing something, it’s very hard to imagine that you can do it. I think just give it a go.

If anything you can tell the teachers are rooting for you because they also want to change the demographics and diversity of the tech world. I thought that was pretty cool. Living in Australia and working in offices, I know what it’s like to be the token brown person in an office and how that feels. At EDA there was never anything off about the vibe.

If you’re gonna do it, stick it out and back yourself 100%. It’s a ride though. Lock in and just go on the ride.”