Sofea studied BSc Information and Communications Technology at Nottingham Trent University before getting her job at THG. She's currently studying to become an expert in the field
Why did you decide on this career?
I grew up with a heavy influence from my father who ran his own software house, and I got an insight into what it's like to work in the tech industry. My father would always hype about how learning to program or by 'speaking the computer's language', he could type a few lines of code and tell the computer to do whatever he wanted it to do and that just blew my then curious and budding little mind.
As I grew older, my interest in the field continued to grow as I started to understand the importance of technology and how it will continuously evolve to become a basic necessity in our day to day lives.
I have always been one of the few girls in computing classes in school as well as only one of three other girls in my college and university courses, but I thought if my dad can do it, then so can I.
How did you get your job with THG?
I was in my last year of university, England had just gone into a lockdown due to COVID-19, and I was on the lookout for a good graduate job.
I came across a job posting for a front-end engineer role at THG I applied and a few days later I got a call for an interview. During the interview I spoke about how I enjoy all aspects of tech from design to development, as well as my awareness of the importance of web accessibility. A couple of days later, I received a phone call offering me the job and an email from my manager to tell me that I was joining the accessibility team.
What's a typical day like as a graduate accessibility specialist?
I work alongside designers and developers to support them to create and build brilliant new features and run accessibility audits across different sites and applications against WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), which helps us find accessibility issues to tackle. This ensures that our sites can be used by everyone regardless of their disabilities. My team and I also create and deliver engagement resources to raise awareness and understanding of accessibility.
What qualities do you think are important for a graduate accessibility specialist?
Apart from having the basic knowledge of web development and accessibility to carry out the job you also need:
- determination to learn
- good communication skills
- good analytical skills
- to be adaptive and collaborative to work alongside different people.
What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
Currently, the part I enjoy most about my job is working with a large number of inspiring developers and designers with a range of unique and amazing ideas across many different projects. At the same time, I have an opportunity to advocate and educate others about the importance of the topic. It's great knowing that the websites we've put online are accessible and safe for everyone to use, regardless of their disability.
In what way is your degree relevant?
My degree in information and communications technology creates the foundation of my knowledge to designing and developing accessible websites for all to use. Currently alongside my work, I'm studying for my IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) WAS (Web Accessibility Specialist) certification to solidify and expand my knowledge, to allow me to become an expert in the field.
What are your career ambitions?
I've always enjoyed the design and development advisory aspect of the job, and I hope that one day I can be a leader in the accessibility specialist field. I would like to continue making an impact in the tech world for the better, leading others and businesses, while advocating for technology to be accessible by everyone.
How can we encourage more women to take up a career in technology?
I believe that tech should be equally encouraged across all genders from an early age and schools should support their students who are interested in the field.
In addition to education, I think that women within the industry should champion and support one another, this would potentially encourage and raise awareness within society to challenge the status quo by mentoring and inspiring young girls or women alike to learn the skills to have a career in the industry.
What advice can you give to other aspiring female graduate accessibility specialists?
- Join a network on Twitter or seek out role models and mentors for advice.
- Do not underestimate the value of communication and people skills in the industry.
- Don't be afraid to take on a challenge, and be patient, you'll continuously learn and gain valuable experiences over time.
- Speak about your work and your passion with confidence; this can take you places.