Esther Siram

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How many years have you been in tech?

< 1 year

Tell me about your background. What were your early years like?

Most of the women role models surrounding my youth didn’t have serious careers outside of traditional domestic and/or philanthropic activities. The resulting unintended consequence: I grew up not having specific career goals besides the ones I’d witnessed. Although education held a place of respect in my family, no one seriously pushed me towards college when I graduated from high school at the ripe age of 16. After a year or so working in retail and day camp/after-school programs, I attended St. Louis Community College. There my love of the humanities blossomed, but again, no one with much sway in my life guided me towards a practical career. I graduated with honors and an A.A. in General Transfer Studies. Not knowing what to do next, I moved to Romania for a few years to volunteer in orphanages. When I returned to the U.S., I found a job in the supply/mail department of a company which sold prearranged funeral plans. Eventually this company moved me to its accounting department. Wanting a deeper understanding of accounting, I returned to St. Louis Community College to take evening classes, eventually earning a couple certificates in Accounting. During this period the funeral company closed and I found myself unemployed at the very start of the 2008 financial crisis. Cobbling together odd jobs for the next couple of years, trying to survive, I finally landed an accounting/purchasing job at Washington University. While working there I used its employee tuition benefit and took between three and eight credit hours per semester, including summers, to get a BS. In 2014 I fulfilled a long-time adult goal of mine: I graduated from Washington University with a BS in History and a 4.0 GPA. My history degree focused on women prostitutes throughout the ages, with a capstone (non-history) course in current day sex-trafficking.

How were you exposed to tech?

My husband and brother both work as software developers. Even before we started dating, my husband suggested that I consider learning how to code, because he thought I’d enjoy it and make an excellent programmer. At the time I already had a maxed-out schedule, taking night classes and working full-time at Washington University, so I didn’t follow up on the idea. This past year, however, I enrolled in LaunchCode’s “Summer of Code” class. It introduced me to Python, Java, and some programming basics.

What is your current role?

On the tech front I am a LaunchCode Apprenticeship Program Applicant, with the hopes of landing an entry level developer job soon. Towards this end, I spend lots of hours trying to re-learn and/or deepen my understanding of what we studied during the “Summer of Code” class. The class covered a lot in 20 odd weeks; and I basically “treaded water,” especially at the end, to get through it. Now, as I review what we learned in class and discover some new information on my own, I have ambitions of actually “swimming” and liking it. 🙂

What is your proudest accomplishment?

One of the proudest moments of my life: when I received the Dean’s Award at my graduation from Washington University.

What are you learning right now?

As a “baby” developer, my current project delves into introductory database (possibly SQLite) creation and Python language learning. I want this project to deepen my understanding of basic programming, especially backend web development, and to also begin to tie together my desire to help human trafficking victims and/or refugees through programming. Upon completion, I seek to both BE and FEEL qualified for an entry-level development job. Feelings of personal inadequacy often struggle to displace feelings of personal success, regardless of the truth. This tendency, folks have told me, finds itself more among women than men; I am also learning to fight it and to focus on the real data that states, “You have succeeded, well done.”

What advice do you wish someone had given to you? What advice would you give to others starting out?

There is wisdom in taking risks; fear not.

What are your hobbies?

Volunteering in anti-human trafficking and children’s organizations, creative writing, event planning, gardening, sewing, second-hand shopping, home-decorating, walking, cooking, eating, listening to jazz and blues and Chopin, and playing with my dogs and cat

What do you like about St. Louis? The midwest? Why do you live here?

St. Louis has some amazing features, including: Forest Park, the Cardinals, and a healthy mix of accessible urban and country living.

Who inspires you?

My grandmother, my mother, my great-grandmother, my sister, some amazing girl friends, and my husband.

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