Role model: Sara Wick

Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.

Sara, let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I spent my childhood in Seengen, a small village in the canton Aargau. I grew up with my siblings and my mother, enjoyed life and did quite a lot of sports. After starting my studies in Zurich, I moved to the city, and that’s where I still live.

What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
I am not sure whether there is one specific advice I can remember, but my mother always encouraged us to voice our own opinion about all things in our lives. I grew up discussing and arguing my point. Another value I was taught is the power of team work – almost anything can be achieved as a team.

How did you become interested in tech?
I started my studies at the English Seminar because I find the complexity and quirkiness of the language fascinating. During my bachelor’s program, a master’s degree called “Multilingual Text Analysis” (by now it is called “Digital Linguistics”) was presented, and I thought it sounded very interesting. So I took the required computer linguistics classes to learn the basics of coding and language technology in general, and then I completed the MA in MLTA. The task of pressing something as organic and – sometimes – chaotic as natural language into the black-and-white world of software engineering with its 1s and 0s is a great challenge! With this master’s degree, I was able to geek out on linguistics and simultaneously, learn a whole new way of thinking

What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
I enjoy building bridges between technology and business. They are two different ways of thinking and approaching a problem. You need to find the right language for each side to get the best results. This process is what I enjoy most at work, and I am proud that I can communicate with businesses in different industries as well as with the software engineers who need to implement and integrate our system.

What drives you at work?
I am a curious person who loves to learn and understand new things. As turicode, a SaaS company, is not fixed on a specific industry, I have to learn a lot in a short amount of time about a client’s business sector and its specific challenges in order to be able to provide real value with our document analysis solution. I am not interested in just selling something for selling’s sake. It gives me immense satisfaction when I see a service solving a real problem and improving the client’s work process.

What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech (and if: how did you overcome it)?
I think the toughest challenge for me, I am myself. To the outside world, I seem very confident, but I question myself a lot. However, I think that this is quite normal and to some degree also healthy, plus not at all specific to the tech community. I learnt to ask for feedback if I am unsure about the course of action, and then take that feedback seriously. If someone you trust tells you “you’re doing a great job”, believe them and take it for a fact.

What advice would you give other women in tech?
Don’t overthink things, go for them! Easier said than done, I know. I have applied for jobs I was only around 50% qualified for. I didn’t get them, but I had a lot of interesting and insightful conversations. And keep learning by doing, most people are not instantly great at something. Or, as a sports company says: Just do it!

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