Published April 15, 2018
In this new series, we will take a look at our diverse and awesome mentor team here at MentorCruise. Building this platform wouldn’t have been possible without the support of them. Today, we are going to talk to Pauline Narvas.
Hey Pauline! Before we get started — why don’t you introduce yourself?
Hi all! I’m Pauline, thanks for having me on MentorCruise — super excited to be here :-)
I’m currently a final year Biomedical Sciences with Employment Experience (yes, this is a part of my degree title) student at the University of Sheffield, currently only with a few months left until I graduate! I also am a self-taught developer, avid community builder, advocate for STEM, speaker and blogger. I’m from a Filipino-Spanish origin but grew up in England!
You are currently studying — however, you already collected a lot of different experiences: You are a Web Dev, a public speaker, a blogger and more. How did you get started with all this?
Ha — this is a question I get asked *a lot.*
All of my hats — web dev, public speaker, blogger etc — actually all stemmed from when I was 8 years old, in front of my parents’ computer, scratching my head over how to re-create a game I was playing because I was unhappy with its current features. So, being very curious of the tech that goes on that makes everything on the internet happen — I decided to try and make my own game — it was going to be a hybrid of Sims and Skyrim! I started off with trying to make a website because Runescape (the game I was playing at the time) was online, so I googled how to create a website and that is where my journey into the web-development world began.
I have enjoyed coding on the side since and taught myself a lot about front-end web development which led me to starting a blog where I initially documented my game designs but then it shifted to a place where I’d document all aspects of my life and what I was learning. My journey into building an online presence hasn’t been easy — I’m still going! I still have a lot to learn but it’s become such a huge part of who I am today, it’s led me to speaking gigs about my not-so-linear journey into tech and communicating online for impact — I’m very thankful. :)
You are also very involved with Code First: Girls. Tell us a little bit about that.
I could talk to you about Code First: Girls all day everyday!
When I was teaching myself how to code and build websites, I was always alone. It can get lonely! When I was coding with a group of people, it was at school during my GCSE Computing class with a group of boys. And that’s all I ever knew and sort of just… accepted.
Until my second year at University, where one day I received an email from the Department of Computer Science advertising an all-female coding course. Excited and shocked (more than I should have to be honest) that such a thing existed, I signed up and ended up getting a place on the course. The course was for complete beginners but at the time, I felt that I needed to refine my coding skills anyway — this would be the first time I’d be learning front-end development in a class, and a class of women just like me.
After my first class, I was inspired. More inspired than I have ever been in my life. I was eager to not only continue the course, but to be a part of what they were working towards — a more equal workforce in tech and entrepreneurship. So, after the course finished, I signed up to be an ambassador and instructor where I have, for two years now, helped teach 100+ female students how to code their first website from scratch. I also helped introduce the students to the wider tech community in the UK and across the world, giving them confidence to not be afraid of tech but embrace it as part of an exciting future. It was a commitment I very much looked forward to every single week and is something I am very proud of being a part of!
You can read all about STEM education and my work with Code First: Girls here.
What was your greatest accomplishment in the last year?
I think my greatest accomplishment would be getting up in front of people and delivering talks. I’ve delivered talks at meetups, conferences and seminars, I gave my first talk in October last year on building inclusive communities.
For me, it was a lot more than just talking. It was me, standing in front of a crowd, being vulnerable, open and honest about some of the difficulties I faced in my journey and aiming to connect with at least one person who may have gone through a similar thing in the past or presently. I’m very grateful for the opportunities to share my story in this way because I truly think it’s the way to change the world!
My most recent talk, “Nevertheless, she persisted” was my favourite one to deliver to date. At the end of the conference, two little girls (one aged 5, another 10) told me how I motivated them to go for it! “If Pauline can do it, I can too!” It touched my heart.
You can watch all my previous talks here.
You are graduating this summer! What would you like to do after?
I’m currently very interested in the health tech space at the moment. Back in March, I helped organised a medical hackathon, #HackMed18, which inspired me to dig deeper in the digital health world. I realised that it fits quite nicely with my background in Biomedical Sciences, technical knowledge and general “life goal” to make a positive impact in the world.
I’m in the process of interviews and assessments at the moment from a range of digital health and tech companies, fingers crossed!
What is your best advice to students out there, who still have some years to go?
My best advice would be to keep yourself open to different types of opportunities — don’t be afraid of going beyond your degree even if it may seem different and disjointed at first. I truly believe that every single thing you take part in — whether that’s a event, a part-time job, volunteering work — it all comes together to create a better you for both future career growth and personal development. I know that my 2 years folding clothes and selling shoes has contributed greatly to the person I am today — a speaker, a blogger, a developer, an advocate!
Things you may like to explore: - Tech events — conferences and hackathons (Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re a student! I know it can be daunting going to a professional conference surrounded by professional people but remember you’re there because you’re taking extra steps to be awesome!)- A community/support group — join one! They are key to success in your professional and personal growth, you cannot do it alone.- Documenting your key learnings — you don’t have publish it publicly, but reflection followed with action is important! I wrote a blog post on the University of Sheffield Enterprise how you can maximise your university/school experience, you can read more here.
Now that you are a mentor — who would you like to mentor? What is your desired mentee like?
I’m especially keen on mentoring students who are unsure about what is available out there for them — I know when I was at that stage, I wish someone would help guide me in my journey of discovery rather than tell me I can only be x or y because of a “chosen” route.
Anything you would like to tell us?
Pauline is one of our amazing mentors on MentorCruise. Visit her profile and get mentored by her today: https://mentorcruise.com/mentor/PaulineNarvas/