Teacher to Technologist: My 3 Top Tips for Building Confidence in the Tech Space

Sponsored by Fannie Mae

A photo of a woman presenting. Photo courtesy of Fannie Mae.

A photo of a woman presenting. Photo courtesy of Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae
April 17, 2024 at 6:33PM UTC

Taking a different path has always been a part of Brittany Istenes’ career story. After high school, she traveled across the country for a few years before she went to college, where she majored in education. In her first teaching job after college, she thrived in the classroom and eventually found herself in technology education. 

Now, as the Open Source Program Office Strategist at Fannie Mae, Brittany focuses heavily on the community of Open Source Software (OSS), InnerSource, upstream contributions, compliance, and all of the gray areas in between. Going from the classroom to technology wasn’t easy, but she learned a few strategies during her transition that helped her navigate her career. Here are a few tips for building confidence in the tech space. 

1. Stay organized.

  • When Brittany needed to balance multiple OSS projects, she looked to her past experiences to help her apply skills to perform her best. One of these skills was organization. As a teacher, she had to prepare for her days in advance to fully engage her students. Now she applies her planning capabilities to Epics stories, sprints, issues, and tasks to achieve her goals. In Brittany’s current role, she takes 15 minutes at the end of each day to prepare for the next so she is ready for her meetings and can take on her projects with an end goal in mind. 

2. Engage key stakeholders.

  • As a teacher, Brittany worked daily with a lot of different stakeholders, including superintendents, executives, and budget owners. This helped her build her network and influencing skills, which she applies in her open source role.  Now she works with executives, peers, and external community members across the country to get consensus from her key partners to make informed decisions.  

3. Practice public speaking.

  • Children can be a captivating audience and are eager to learn, but they can also challenge their teachers or presenters to keep their attention. For Brittany, her classes were the perfect place to practice her presentation style, perfect her voice, and learn to be an engaging speaker. Thanks to transferable public speaking skills she built while working in education, she’s been tapped to represent her team and advocate for open source at conferences around the country, including GitHub Universe, Open Source Summit North America, InnerSource Commons, TODO Group, and more. 

When making a transition in your career, focus on the skills you’ve built and apply them to your new role. Brittany found staying organized, networking with key colleagues, and finding her voice was key to building her confidence in the tech space. Are you looking for a career in tech? We’re hiring.  

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