Meet Melissa Ketch After moving to New York City (after living in the Ivory Coast,…
Meet Johna Rutz
After trying everything from oil painting to beauty pageants, Johna Rutz discovered her love for programming after attending a robotics camp when she was only 15 years old. Now, Johna is a senior technology consultant at Credera, a full-service management and IT consulting firm based out of Dallas. Keep reading to learn Johna’s favorite part about coding, what a typical day in her life looks like and why she feels that there is a lack of women in technology.
- My name is: Johna Rutz
- My social handles are:
- Find my website at: www.johnarutz.com
- Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get involved in software development?
I’m a born and raised Alaskan and tried pretty much everything before finding programming – business camps, oil painting lessons, film workshops, language programs, writing courses, beauty pageants and finally, a robotics camp when I was 15. I had always had a passion for cognitive science so when I moved to Texas to attend SMU, I studied both Computer Science and Psychology.
As a junior, I discovered the concept of technology consulting when I interned with Credera (a small full-service consulting firm headquartered in Dallas) – I found that it had many of the benefits of freelance software development except there was also health insurance, a salary and a company full of smart people to rely on instead of just myself. I took a full-time job there after graduating in 2016 and haven’t looked back!
- What does a typical day in your life look like?
At Credera we work in teams on projects that have variable durations, so a typical day in July might look very different than a typical day in September. As many of our projects are in the metroplex, some consultants will work at the client-site, but as I’ve been doing development with a client located in a different state which means I get to work out of our Dallas office with my colleagues.
My ideal weekday starts with early morning coffee and writing down what meetings and tasks I want to accomplish – we use an agile methodology in a collaborative team atmosphere, so there’s a lot of picking up development tasks, conferring with teammates and the client over the details and then implementing them (some tasks take a day, some take a week).
My personal preference is to invest additional time into internal company initiatives beyond project-work, so I’ll usually have a couple of meetings a week devoted to recruiting, diversity and inclusivity or skill development.
After I get home, which is usually around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., I try to set my work down as much as possible. The evenings are a time for making dinner (admittedly, sometimes dinner is just crackers, brie, and wine), reading, movies, blogging and the occasional night-out dancing.
- What is your favorite part about coding and programming?
For me, programming is functional art. A developer can create something out of bits of electricity and an idea; it might have the potential to help people, foster community, elicit emotions, allow people gain financial independence or anything you can imagine.
- Who has inspired and supported you in your career?
It’s a cliché answer, but my parents have been my biggest cheerleaders. My father has an unmatched passion for constant learning and my mother has a brilliant sense of adventure.
- What is one piece of advice you could give to women aspiring to make a name for themselves in the tech industry?
There are commonly two extreme schools of thought:
- “Be yourself.”
- “You have to develop typically masculine traits if you want to be successful.”
The truth lies somewhere in between; no one is perfect, and as you grow in your career your leadership style and working style will change. Figure out what you naturally bring to the table and focus on developing those skills.
- Do you feel that there is a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
There are absolutely fewer women in certain sectors of technology, and I don’t think we can point to a single definitive cause. It’s not just that there are fewer women seeking degrees in computer science; it’s that women are leaving after being in tech for ten or fifteen years. It feels cyclical: the high attrition rate means that even when women do enter the tech field, they will likely lack role models who “look like them” or who are obvious advocates for their concerns at higher levels of their organizations – this can make a career in tech feel like an uphill journey and finding an “out” more appealing.
That being said, there are a lot of great groups and movements aimed at youths with the goals of normalizing the skills involved in tech careers (Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, Hour of Code, etc.) as well as similar organizations that foster community for women in the industry.
If you’re a woman in the workplace and feel like you’re struggling (or you’re just interested in gender dynamics) I’d highly recommend reading Gender Intelligence by Barbara Annis and Keith Merron and That’s What She Said by Joanne Lipman.
- Okay, we have to ask… what’s in your beauty bag?
I love putting on a full face in the morning, but I don’t want to have to worry about it the rest of the day, which makes Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush, Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Eye Liner, and Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick are all staples for my everyday wear.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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