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Monique’s Story: From high school drop-out to Xero Software Developer

14 Sep 2020

From a high school drop-out to a Software Developer at Xero, Monique Warrington has smashed some of New Zealand’s tragic tech sector gender statistics. Fewer than 5% of girls consider a high-paid career in science, technology, engineering and maths, compared to 20% of boys.

The 22-year-old completed a Level 6 Diploma in Software Development at Whitecliffe earlier this year – something she chose to pursue after realising she thrived in practical-based learning. 

“I wasn’t very good at exams,” explains Warrington. “So, I started looking for something that had a lot of practical skills and Whitecliffe was perfect for that.”

Her diploma was designed for those seeking to focus on one or more application domains such as general application development, web development, games development and mobile applications development.

While studying at Whitecliffe, Warrington gained invaluable industry connections through peers and tutors, leading her to connect with a series of tech-based charities. 

“I started working with a charity called Impact NPO,” she says. “They were looking for someone to help out, and once I got on board there, I started arranging hackathons for different charities.”

“We get a bunch of really great people together and we build websites for charities over the course of a weekend. After that, I fell in love with this kind of work.” 

Since getting a flavour for charity-based work, she now does a mix of volunteer and ambassador work.  She then got involved with the NGO Voluntarily – a charity connecting tech professionals to those in need. She also became an official ambassador for SheSharp, an organisation dedicated to creating events for women in technology industries. 

Her hard work paid off when she was offered a Software Developer Internship at Xero in early 2020; the role quickly turned into full-time after they offered her a Graduate Software Developer role. 

“Xero is a wonderful company to work for,” she explains. “I’m part of a really small team, it’s very hands-on and I’m a core part of the team. They’ve also invited me to stay on this year.” 

New Zealand’s tech sector is a dynamic industry to work in, offering higher than average salaries, a variety of roles and great career opportunities. The tech sector has an ongoing need for employees, yet women are in the minority, occupying only 23% of professional IT roles overall.

Warrington encourages young women across New Zealand thinking about moving into a tech career to absolutely give it a go. 

“Don’t let anyone hold you back,” she says. “I didn’t even know that software development was a career option until I met someone in the industry, so asking around helps.”

Whitecliffe courses enable students to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to analyse, design and develop IT solutions to meet the needs of the user.

The courses are built for students, like Monique, to try their hand in areas including app and mobile development, IT security, wireless networking, and interaction design. 

Learn more at whitecliffe.ac.nz or call 0800 800 300. Enrolments are now open for the October 2020 and February 2021 intakes.