inspiration

Women Who Reign: Kelly O’Conor

Happy Tuesday Reigners – hope you had a great long weekend! Meet monogram wearing, Flipboard fan Kelly O’Conor who loves being BOLD. Read on about how she’s taken chances to improve her life and follow her desired career path, how her family inspires her, and how she gets her coding groove on!
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi- I’m Kelly! I’m a software developer, frequent page refresher and notification junkie who is passionate about social networks, communicative technologies, new gadgets, and of course, my morning coffee.

Beyond my day to day role as a developer, I have a strong interest in technology’s growing role in our society. This is something I enjoy researching on my own and like to incorporate into my work to go above and beyond my strict job title. (Shameless plug, follow me on Flipboard to see what I’m talking about!)

Outside of work, you can find me cheering for all the Washington D.C. sports teams, laughing at my own jokes, and always wearing my monogram.

Fun fact: I’m a twin!
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What # would define your life journey?
#BeBold. I saw first saw this phase at ABI’s Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing this past year in Houston, Texas on Facebook’s booth. For me, #BeBold has become constant reminder to be confident in who you are and what you do.  Being bold isn’t about being the loudest and making the most noise; it’s about daring to be different. From transferring universities, changing my major to Computer Science, taking a job in a new city away from my family and just being a women in technology, there have been many instances when I feel different. But what I’ve learned is that being bold takes us out of our comfort zone and when we step out of our comfort zone, we only make it larger leading to more exciting new adventures.
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Favorite website / app:
Product Hunt —  it is a simple list of new tech products and an incredible community of early adopters. Every day, it curates a list of the top products and startups that people haven’t heard of yet and lets members up vote, comment and discuss. The result of this is a list of what people should be paying attention to across the industry. I always check it!! #MorningRoutine

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
To say that my three sisters inspire me would be an absolute understatement – each of them remind me of little things I can do each day to better myself:

  1. My oldest sister reminds me to continually work hard to get to where I want to go.
  2. My twin sister reminds me to always laugh at myself and to not take everything so seriously.
  3. My youngest sister reminds me to see the beauty in everything.

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Song that makes you want to dance:
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love ft. JAY Z

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Currently, I am in a one-year technology rotational program and my first 6-month rotation I was on a product management team doing mostly non-technical, more product focused work. Fast forward to right now, my second rotation begins and I’m thrown right back into the development world. The challenge for me has been getting my “coding rhythm” back– and I’m not going to lie, it has taken me longer than I thought. But I know at the end of this year, I will have a better understanding of my strengths, my weaknesses, and where I want to make an impact at my company.

Ideal Job:
I don’t think I know exactly what my ideal job is– what I do know is that I am interested in working with innovative social technologies at a company that embraces a “Working Out Loud” and collaborative environment. I want to use creative technology solutions to solve open ended problems.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
1. Create your team.
After being on sports teams all my life, I know the importance and benefits of being surrounded by positive, like-minded people with a common goal. I took this attitude and applied it at Villanova University not only while on the rowing team, but also by founding Villanova Women in Computer Science — this gave me a place in college to grow with, to learn from and to support always the outstanding women majoring in CS.

At my current job, being in a campus-hire program has created an automatic team atmosphere and I am lucky enough to work with people who have very similar backgrounds and goals as me. I am also heavily involved with the Women in Technology group which has been the perfect platform at work to be involved with something I’m so passionate about.

By having this #squad, it has definitely allowed me to #BeBold and  I know I always have a support network that backs me up!

(Side note: This won’t happen unless you make the effort and put yourself out there! — always say Hi!)

2. Find a mentor.
Keep on the lookout for someone who is not only an expert in their field and who you trust, but who you have great chemistry — someone you can share what’s happening both professionally and personally as you go about planning your career. Be sure to look for a mentor who is not only successful but has a good work/life balance and who can demonstrate that yes, it can be done: Being successful in technology and having a fulfilling personal life are not mutually exclusive. I also think it’s really important that this mentorship is as organic as possible and not forced.

3. Fail often.
I think all the other “Women Who Reign” have said this but it can not be more true. You are going to make mistakes. Failure is inevitable but it’s in the questioning of why we failed that sometimes we find our best answers. Go ahead, #BeBold and try it. You will be told countless “no’s” and encounter some non-believers , but by keeping a positive attitude and by blocking out the negativity will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

*Another reason to create your team and find a mentor — it will be these individuals who will help you get right back up and push you to do better.

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