Starting her career in advertising, Natalya Kamal knew that ultimately, she wanted to work in…
Meet Tailor Tolliver, aka The Digital Empress
Obsessed with the digital world since childhood, Tailor Tolliver is now a freelance web developer, tech consultant and security analyst. Her online followers know her as The Digital Empress and for her niche in minimal design and high quality, luxury brand aesthetic. Keep reading to learn how Tailor first got involved in freelancing, her favorite programming languages and her best advice for women aspiring to be in the tech industry.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get involved in the tech world?
I’ve been obsessed with the digital world ever since I was 5 or 6. My father was running his own business when I was that age and brought home a computer. He didn’t want my siblings and me using it but I was super curious and hopped on it anyway. It took me about two days to figure out how to sneak and turn it on by myself, play the games offered on Windows, and know that computer in and out. It wasn’t until I was about 7 or 8 years old when I figured out how to connect to the Internet. Ever since, I’ve watched and participated in the evolution of social media. Myspace, Bebo, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat — I’ve had them all and still use most of them. When I moved from Louisiana in 2014 and started college, I realized I wanted a career in technology after working on campus in a computer lab. Here I helped students with their tech classes and maintained the systems in the lab. Right next door, they built a Cybersecurity lab for students to come and get experience working with security tools, study and attend club meetings. This is how I initially got involved in Cybersecurity and eventually switched my major to the career field.
2. As a freelance web developer, tech consultant and security analyst, what does a typical day in your life look like?
I plan out my week on the weekends so that during the week I stay organized with clients and projects. I wake up, get ready for the day and check my to-do list. As a web developer, I check my email for any client updates or questions, followed by implementing any changes that need to be made and updating the client to be sure we are on the same page. As a tech consultant, clients email me about any tech questions or concerns they may have about a specific project they are working on. Usually it’s apps, websites, security concerns and code debugging/issues. As a security analyst, I test out different hacking techniques on the web application to make sure that it is as secure as possible before deployment.
3. Do you feel that there is a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
I definitely think there is a major lack of women in the tech space, especially women of color. I think this is the case because technology is seen as a very masculine and difficult career. Many people, believe it or not, still think that only a certain demographic can excel in this career. Which are men, people who are super smart (sometimes referred to as “nerds”), or those who were born into tech.
4. How did you land your first freelancing job?
I landed my first freelancing job with the help of the technical empire I brought together. (Shoutout to all of the members in the Digital Empire who pushed me to just get started.) I wouldn’t have got here without their support and motivation. I took a lot of their advice and just put myself out there. Many of my opportunities and clients come from social media, especially Twitter. My first client for web development came from Twitter as well as my first pentesting project. I would have to say that social media isn’t all that bad if you’re using it to open up opportunities for yourself!
5. What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve consulted on?
My favorite project would have to be the security project I just finished participating in. It happened out of nowhere. I was reached out to by someone who owns a security company through my website and wanted to see if I would like to help with testing the security of a healthcare app. I had a lot of fun in the process and learned so much. I’m so grateful I got this opportunity and I know this is going to be something I will be doing full-time in the near future.
6. What programming languages do you know? Which one is your favorite and why?
7. What is a piece of advice you could give to women aspiring to make a name for themselves in the tech industry?
Be yourself, take things slow and try many different things before you decide to settle down in a role. This is a field where you will be constantly learning, meeting new people and re-discovering yourself and your skills. Also, researching and networking is going to become your best friend so master this skill wisely.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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