Interview by Allison Grinberg-Funes
Hi Alicia! How did you get into tech?
My first hand on a computer was an IBM punch card machine in high school. At the age of 25 with 3 kids and a husband in the military, I got tired of working weekends in retail. I needed a career change so I took a continuing education course in MSDos and DBase. I got a job at a bank as a database programmer. That’s when I knew I was in love with technology. In 2011 while on line at the Apple store waiting to buy my second generation iPad, I met a 16-year-old young man. While waiting in line, I asked him how he got the money to buy an iPad. He told me he created an app that made him a lot of money. I asked him if he went to college to learn to create apps. No, he said, he learned from YouTube. That’s when I turned to my husband and told him “I want to do that.”
In 2012, I started looking for schools to learn how to code. On November 2, 2012, my husband told me to quit my job to follow my dream to become an iOS developer. It took me 1½ years to learn Objective C.
What advice do you have for self-taught tech ladies?
I have learned that if we as women put our minds to something we want, we can make it happen. But we have to find the time to complete what we started. When we have a family, it can leave us little time to focus on ourselves. When I started to learn Objective C, I had to learn when no one was around. My husband allowed me to quit my job to follow my passion to learn to code and to learn Objective C, but the problem was that whenever my family members (husband, grown children, and grand babies) called, I rushed to take care of them. I began to learn how to focus on myself. Find out what works for you, even if it’s a small thing like getting the kids to bed earlier to find 30 extra minutes to study. Find what works for you to be successful.
PEVO is an app that helps to empower women struggling with domestic violence. How did you get the idea for the app and what advice do you give for finding resources to build your own app?
A former mentor gave me the idea for PEVO (formerly known as Purple Pocketbook). I started promoting the app when an NFL player was beating his girlfriend in an elevator.
As far as resources? Look around you! As a woman in tech, we are the resources. I do have men developers help and give me the best advice. I have found that men love what I do and give a lot of support. I have also learned to only surround yourself with people who support what you do. And for real, get rid of the haters. If you want to empower others, surround yourself with those who are creative, loving and respectful. That’s what your circle should be, because if it is, you can never fail.