Kara Kimmel

How many years have you been in tech?

Almost 9 years.

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

I was the over-achiever student. As I got older, I found that I gravitated more towards math and science. In middle school when cliques started to form, I found myself more in the nerdy, outsider group. It was hard at the time, but those experiences taught me that its okay to be different.

How were you exposed to tech?

My dad is a software engineer, so when I got the chance to take a QBasic class in high school I figured I might as well see what it was all about. I fell in love with the logic, problem solving, and concreteness of programming. Creating working software solutions was so exciting! I knew right away that this was the field I would pursue.

What is your current role?

I work on a research team that uses any and all languages and tools that the current project requires. My background is mainly in Ruby on Rails and Modern Perl.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I can’t really put my finger on one single accomplishment that I am proudest of. I feel proud of where I am in life. I’ve pushed myself to continue growing and learning and have found a place where I am happy personally and professionally.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Tell us about a time that this applied to you.

I’ve been fortunate to have supportive teachers and family throughout my life. However, in college I found myself in classes where I was almost always the only female. My fellow male students were friendly when I approached them in class, but they didn’t seem interested in befriending me. This was incredibly isolating for me. I knew I was likely to face similar ratios once in the workforce, so I really questioned if this was the right career path for me. I stuck it out because I loved the content of my classes, and I’m so glad I did!

What are you learning right now?

How to balance being a software developer and mother to a toddler, without wearing myself too thin. Tech-wise, I’m learning Node.js and Docker for my team’s current project.

What was the last fear that you faced? How did you feel after you conquered it?

The last fear I faced was leaving my first job. I was very comfortable there since I was the big fish at a tiny (think 5 person) company. I felt that I had learned all I could in that environment and knew it was time to move on. This seemed particularly difficult to me since, like many women, I suffer from imposter syndrome. What if I wasn’t as good as I thought? What if everything I had learned up to this point was wrong? In the end, the leap was the best thing I could have done. I’ve landed at a company where I work with amazing people and learn something new multiple times a day.

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

Try new things; even if you don’t think they’re for people like you. Also, don’t be afraid to approach leaders and authority figures in your life for help, advice, or support. Most people in these roles genuinely want to help you succeed.

What are your hobbies?

Board games, hiking, history, and taking my daughter to the park.

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

St. Louis has always been home to me. I love the diversity, both in the people and the activities available.

Who inspires you?

My daughter inspires me to constantly improve. Setting an example for her that I am proud of is the biggest motivator in the world.

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