Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself in Tech

Posted by Charles Poladian  /  November 1, 2019

Garry Clerge wants to be more than just a software engineer. Yes, he has a great job that he’s excited about. But, as a person of color, he gets to make tech more inclusive. Garry enrolled in Flatiron School because he wanted a stable and satisfying career. 

We’ve previously talked to Garry about his journey from the “sales rollercoaster” to a career as a software engineer. His advocacy today stems from his own experiences. Gary was an early adopter, was passionate about tech, but only had indirect experience with technology and software development. He didn’t have a programming background and chose Flatiron School because it offered a supportive and inclusive community. 

Now, Garry says he wants to help other people of color who want to start careers in tech. “Going through Flatiron School as a student, or being a teacher, or as an engineer, the important thing for me was to see more people like me in tech,” he says.

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Don’t shy away from challenges

Garry says it’s great that people from different backgrounds are entering tech and he wants to help bridge that gap by sharing tips. That could include ways to effectively communicate their needs or ways to connect to a team. 

One way to do that is to not shy away from challenges. Whether it’s feeling like you don’t fit in or if you’re stuck on a certain topic, stay true to yourself and keep going. “Push forward. In those moments that it feels tough, build structure for yourself,” says Garry.

For example, there were things Garry didn’t understand while he attended Flatiron School. He set aside time to review different concepts or topics as he made his way through the program.

Be yourself

Ultimately, Garry says to be your authentic self. “You might be into different types of music, or interests, and you shouldn’t shy away from that because you happen to be a minority,” he says. Your voice should be heard as tech becomes a more diverse and inclusive community. 

By being yourself, your voice will help to shape the future of tech. There are always going to be times when you might not feel like you fit in, but Gary recommends finding structure that can help you overcome those challenges. One way to do that is by developing a network that you can turn to for support. 

Build your community

Garry recognizes that progress has been made in tech to make it more diverse, but there’s still work to be done to make it inclusive. That’s why he’s excited for events like AfroTech, an annual conference bringing together 6,000+ black startup founders, entrepreneurs, techies, and more. Garry will be attending this year’s AfroTech Conference from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10 in Oakland, CA. “I’m excited to meet brilliant, dope black people,” says Garry while laughing.

He’ll also be at the “Breakthrough Afterparty” hosted by Flatiron School. It’s nearby in Oakland and he’s running an interactive DJing experience at the party. If you’re interested in learning more about code, breaking into tech, or Flatiron School, we encourage you to RSVP. We hope to see you there!