We’re heading overseas for our next #wheredidyoustart Based in Montreal, Marie-Philippe Gill is studying software engineering - but a career in tech wasn’t always an easy choice for her to make. Here, Marie-Philippe takes us through her love of computers and code - and shows just how much of an impact it’s had on her life, as well as her personality. Over to you Marie!
When I was a kid, my mom would always say that I spent too much time on the computer. I remember being very young, around six or seven-years-old, and playing Adibou on the computer. I loved that game a lot! In elementary school, I eventually found the website Neopets. It's a game where you feed your digital animals, and meet other players along the way.
It wasn’t the pet care that I enjoyed - it was meeting people in the forums and in guilds. I eventually owned my own guild, which is essentially just a group of people hanging out. Guilds have their own welcome page, so I had to design one. I started with paint, and then moved on to PhotoFiltre - but the point is, I learned HTML and CSS by building graphics and writing text on them. I would use coordinates to write text in the boxes I previously designed.
This was pretty much life changing. I realised I really liked computers and code. In high school, I was lucky to have Computer Science class through the majority of my time in education. In my first year of high school, I learned how to make a video game with Stagecast - these weren’t your basic classes. It was fun!
I go out of my comfort zone every time I can, and that's the best advice I can give to anyone
Right now, I am a student in software engineering in Montreal. I am also a tech blogger at girlknowstech.com, I manage a student club at my university to promote women in engineering, and I am also pretty active on Instagram... and YouTube!
My days mostly consist of going to classes, studying, working on upcoming blog posts, and film my days as a woman in tech! I just recently launched my YouTube channel because I felt like I would be able to reach more people with this new medium. When I started my blog, one of my goals was to improve my English writing skills - and I succeeded! I'm now to my next challenge: improving my English speaking skills - which I’m hoping to improve through my YouTube channel.
I’ve also undertaken a couple of internships which are all different from one another. One was with ERPs, the next one was concerning mobile apps (android and iOS), and my latest one was kind of a full-stack developer position. My goal is to explore as many domains as I can in tech because there are so many choices, and I have no idea what I want to specialise in when I'll graduate.
Looking back, I decided to go into computer sciences just two days before the application end date. As much as I liked tech, I wasn't sure if it was for me. I wasn't sure if I would be able to get through it. When I was 16 and had to make those career choices, I was a very shy young woman. I wasn't able to speak up for myself, I wasn't able to defend myself in tough situations, and just the thought of being surrounded by men made me terrified.
I finally decided to do it because it was my passion, and I'm so glad I did.
Tech changed me a lot, but in good ways: now, I can speak up for myself, I'm not scared to meet new people even if I'm alone, I go for opportunities and I always say YES to the things I'm the most scared of. In other words: I go out of my comfort zone every time I can, and that's the best advice I can give to anyone.