Breaking coder stereotypes
At the young age of 5, Roxana Rugina was crazy about video games and parked herself in front of her father's computer to learn how to code. At 10, she joined a computer club in her hometown and was an Olympiad in math, physics, and chemistry. At 14 she started a computer science club for her peers who wanted to spend more than the allotted hour the school gave them in front of a computer. "I have lots of energy, don’t know if I will have it forever, so I want to use it now to help people. I have the same agenda as Microsoft, to empower people to do the right thing."
Several years later, Roxana found herself stuck sitting at a desk doing odd jobs, far removed from her love of science and technology. Though she had planned to turn her tech skills into a career, she was a blonde girl with a big smile and was told she didn’t fit the coder stereotype. Her mom steered her toward a more expected career path in public relations, telling her she should do something social.
Roxana followed that advice and went on to get a degree in communications. Unable to find a job, she continued school, moved from her hometown in Romania to Montreuil City in France, and earned two master’s degrees. Even with all those degrees and the ability to speak three languages, she couldn’t find a job in a communications agency. Roxana found part time work to earn a living. And instead of networking or public speaking like her mother envisioned, Roxana was sitting at a desk. Behind a computer is where she wanted to be, but she wasn’t doing what she loved: coding.
Sitting at that desk one day, Roxana had a revelation and became determined to reconnect with her childhood passion. She began networking, attending tech and startup events, going to conferences, and visiting accelerator spaces. She followed everyone she met on Twitter and that’s where she heard about a free six-month intensive programming boot camp called Simplon. Roxana applied and was accepted. She began training in the Simplon lab and soared. She was surrounded by people who shared her love of coding and she not only ramped up her programming skills, but learned how to write a business plan, develop her own apps, and explore how technology can be used as a tool to help society. Most importantly, Roxana learned that she fit right in as a coder, that no matter what someone looks like or where they’re from, they should look for a way to pursue their dreams.