Lauren is a technical solutions designer in PDS. We spoke to her about what it's like having a degree in English and working in tech.
What's your job?
For the last six months I've been a technical solutions designer in the architecture team. This involves working across various teams gathering information and documenting current and potential technical solutions. It's allowed me to work in a highly collaborative way that I really enjoy. Before this I was a senior application analyst in information systems.
My current role has more flexibility but also more ambiguity than my previous roles in support that had a break/fix, right/wrong way of working. This has raised some confidence issues for me as I felt very comfortable with the area I had worked in previously and had worked hard to establish myself in my team and areas of expertise.
I've often felt the need to prove myself because I don’t come from a technical background. My degree was in English literature with creative writing, and I had intended on getting a job in publishing. However, my first full time role was answering calls in a small IT department for a construction company and I've worked in tech ever since.
What training or experience do you need to do your job?
In my current role the experience that has benefitted me the most has been stakeholder engagement and supplier management, gained on previous projects. I've been on various training courses covering technical and soft skills. Also I feel it's important to read around the topic of any work I'm involved in and learn as much as I can from every opportunity.
What attracted you to Parliament?
I was initially drawn to working in Parliament because I'd worked in the betting industry for five years and although I loved my job and the people, I had this feeling of contributing to something that was potentially negative for people. For me, working at Parliament was a chance to feel part of something that makes a positive difference.
Once I started working at Parliament, I was really encouraged by the fact that the director was female. This made me feel that there were no limits to what I could achieve. At my previous company all the directors had been male and most of my managers were also male. Diversity in the Digital Service is one of the things, I think, that makes it a great place to work.
Best parts of your job?
Working collaboratively across different areas in Parliament, as well as with different teams in PDS. Having the space and flexibility to learn and work things out. I enjoy working closely with the users to try and explore what their issues are and the best ways to help them. I also enjoy being part of a project team.
Most difficult thing about your job?
Not being sure if I'm doing the right thing. Having come from a support based job I was used to knowing the right thing to do or at least how to work it out. Now I'm learning how to operate in an environment where there's more than one answer so I have to weigh up which option works best for the user and fits within the wider technical landscape. It's really helped that everyone in the Digital Service is always willing to help and offer their expertise and time.
Why do you enjoy working in tech?
Tech's a continuous/constant challenge and there's always something new to learn. My favourite aspect is finding a solution to something then seeing how it makes a difference to the end user.