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2016 LiFT Scholarship Winner Lorien Smyer: Bookkeeper Turned Technologist

By 2016-10-108月 22nd, 2017Blog

Lorien Smyer is a former bookkeeper who decided she wanted to start a new career in computer science. She was one of 14 aspiring IT professionals to receive a 2016 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) scholarship, announced in August.  


Lorien Smyer

Lorien Smyer, LiFT Scholarship Winner

Lorien completed a six-month web development bootcamp, followed by Intro to Linux through edX, where she achieved a 100% grade. She hopes that the additional training provided by this scholarship will increase her chances of finding a job that will allow her to exercise her love of coding. Why are you switching careers, and why did you choose technology?

Lorien Smyer: I was a bookkeeper for many years. Long ago, I had to hand-enter all data to a paper spreadsheet with a pencil.

When my clients started getting computers, I was fascinated by everything about these amazing tools: the hardware, the software, how customizable it all was. In my spare time, I started taking occasional computer-related classes at my local community college, and doing many IT-related tasks for my clients, in addition to the bookkeeping I was already doing for them.

In 1995, I met the man who became my husband. He got a personal computer that same year, and happily allowed me to become our home IT expert.

A few years ago, the company I had been working for as a bookkeeper and occasional IT tech informed me that my office would be moving to Santa Cruz. Since I didn’t want to move to Santa Cruz, I needed to find something else to do. They were kind enough to give me a year’s notice, so I increased the number of computer-related classes I was taking at my local community college, thinking I might be able to ease into a job in some tech-related field.

When the year was up, initially I continued working generally in bookkeeping/office managing, with some tech responsibilities; but I still hadn’t made a full career switch. My husband and I then agreed that I could start studying full time, in order to try and make my tech career switch possible. I still enjoyed bookkeeping, but really felt most engaged professionally when I was involved in tech-related tasks at work.

The first class I took after starting full-time studying was the Introduction to Linux class on edX, which had just become available. I finished the class in two weeks, with a score of 100, and got my verified certificate. Completing that course gave me confidence that I had made the correct decision to pursue a job in tech.

After that, I completed a full semester of computer science and web development classes at community college, then attended a six-month, 70-hour-per-week immersive web development program at Galvanize.

I am now in the process of trying to pick a field within tech to pursue professionally. I have studied many different areas, and I think they all have attractive aspects. What is your ultimate dream job, and what are you doing to accomplish it?

Lorien: My ultimate dream job would have a great team of co-workers. I believe, with the right group of people, who all share the goals of working together to help the company succeed and genuinely care about each others’ well-being, I could be happy doing many things.

As previously mentioned, I enjoy pretty much all aspects of the tech field. My dream job, practically speaking, is one that is interested in hiring an older female career-switcher, so it would have to be a job that needs juniors, and has some mentoring and onboarding for new hires. Beyond that, I’m pretty open to what kind of company I work for.

What I’m doing to accomplish finding my dream job? Right now, I’m continuing to add to my skills, and looking at many job listings every day, to see what kind of skills are in demand in the SF Bay Area (where I live). How do you plan to use your LiFT Scholarship? How will it help you advance your career?

Lorien: I plan to use my LiFT Scholarship to take the Linux System Administration (LFS201) virtual course, and then take the LFCS exam. There are many Linux System Administrator jobs available in the SF Bay Area, and I will be very happy to be able to put that skill on my resume.

Interested in learning more about starting your IT career with Linux? Check out our free ebook “A Brief Guide To Starting Your IT Career In Linux.

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