Interview lead by Rakia Wells, Communication Specialist
Part 3, the final interview, highlighting the experiences of Black Adies at Ada and beyond.
Currently: Headed to Internship
Stacy Lundquist (she/her) from Cohort 14 wasn’t immediately accepted into the program. As she plans to transition into her internship, she mentions she got in on her third time applying. What we were unable to document via phone, Stacy graciously wrote in.
RW: Stacy, tell me more about your journey to tech.
SL: It was round-about then all in! It started a few years ago when someone sent a message to Seattle People of Color Salon (SPoCS) about Ada and how supposedly the reason there weren’t more Black womxn was because none were applying; they wanted to fix that. That was the same time a friend told me I would probably like tech because I do “boring, annoying, and repetitive stuff like taxes for fun,” so I figured it was kismet.
But then everything went wrong. The people that paired with me to apply never responded. The workshops were canceled, or no one showed up. I thought I had support, but it was just me.
I had to apply three times, but I finally made it!
“Just 6 months ago, I would have been like “you want me to do what with the what?”
RW: What’s been your most challenging moment at Ada?
SL: Not really a moment as it is a feeling. Knowing that these requirements for entry [into Ada] left room for different levels of experience. I came in with little to no experience. Some of my colleagues had taken a year of courses, and I felt that difference. It’s hard not to compare yourself when you see it.
I’m doing a marathon with sprint energy. Meaning a lot of work and stress, with no real breaks and not comparing myself to others who have had more time with tech.
RW: What’s been your biggest win?
SL: I think getting into Ada was a really big win and having a great interview week. There was only one interview that didn’t feel really good. In all the other interviews, I felt like I knew what I was doing, which was a huge win.
Just 6 months ago, I would have been like, “you want me to do what with the what?” Now, I can say, “this is what I want it to be.” Even if it [code] didn’t do what I wanted.
RW: How do you protect your mental health and wellness while you work through the program?
SL: I was a fitness professional, so I kept as many habits as I could. I also make sure to drink at least a gallon of water each day (hydration, that’s the ticket) and set a timer to have 2-3 breathing moments each day—60 seconds to focus on breathing and checking in with my body.
It only took 1 (okay, 2) injuries to make sure it didn’t slip again! And a therapist, she definitely helped me.
“Knowing that I could be debt-free, because of this. Knowing that you can get a job and will always be able to find a job – that is a wonderful feeling.”
RW: How has your life changed since you left Ada?
SL: I haven’t left yet, but a huge thing is knowing that I’m going to have real true financial and job security. Previously, as an educator, it seemed to be one or the other. Even with the best job security, you’re still not making enough to survive.
I’m excited for the kind of health that only comes from no longer worrying if you can afford to live instead of just surviving. And, I am definitely excited about the checks. “Knowing that I could be debt-free because of this. Knowing that you can get a job and will always be able to find a job — that is a wonderful feeling.”
RW: What is one thing that has surprised you about working in tech?
SL: The smallest things can cause the biggest problems.
RW: What would you say to a prospective Black womxn considering a place in tech?
SL: Tech needs you! Ada is a great choice to start. Few and far between, you find an org that is doing what they say they are going to do, talking to the whole person, and open to using the feedback they get. That part of the experience is amazing. If you give a comment, not even a week later, they can implement that feedback.
Ada is a great segue into tech and one of the more comfortable ways to do it. Once you get to tech itself, make sure you keep good company. When you are the changing force in anything that doesn’t really want to change or are going into something that doesn’t want to make space for you, it can be jarring to leave Ada. The corporate world isn’t the awesomeness that they curated in the program.
Make sure to have your people wherever you can find them and do it for you. Write a list of reasons why you’re doing it, to look back at when something isn’t going right, and have your list of reasons to fall back on when the ugly side of tech shows up.
RW: If you could say anything to yourself, day one at Ada, what would you say?
SL: It’s soooo gonna be worth it. It’s kinda what I’ve been telling myself this whole time. Nobody knows how hard it is.
It’s gonna be worth it. Comparison is the thief of joy. You’ve got this.
RW: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me, Stacy.
You can connect with Stacy on LinkedIn