This March, Women’s History Month celebrates the contributions of women in society, which are often overlooked. This year, the series commemorates women’s experiences with Women in Technology at Illinois State. This week’s Women in Tech Q&A is with Tonya Mintz.
What’s your current position?
My current position is business analyst/project coordinator. I work on the Applications team in Student Affairs IT. I’m tasked with meeting with customers to determine their project needs, gathering business requirements for new projects, and communicating with business partners. In essence, I interpret customer business needs and translate them into technical requirements. I also teach TEC 319: Graphical Software Interfaces in the Department of Technology.
Why did you decide on technology as a profession at Illinois State University?
I decided on technology as a profession in my junior year of high school. My guidance counselor gave me a choice of taking study hall or a COBOL class (Common Business Oriented Language). I chose the COBOL class because it sounded interesting. I loved every minute of that class and decided to take more tech classes. During my sophomore year at Illinois State University, I worked as an office assistant for University Housing Services in East Campus. I decided that I should probably start to look for jobs in my actual major to gain more experience. That’s when I landed a student worker help desk position with Student Health Services. After working for Health Services for a little over a year, a full-time position became available. I applied and was hired as a microcomputer support specialist. Over the years, all of the different tech support departments for the Division of Student Affairs merged into one single department, which is where I work today in Student Affairs Information Technology (SAIT).
What is the best part of your job? What impact do you see yourself making as a woman in tech?
The best part of my job is there are no two days that are the same. Each project presents its own set of challenges and requirements. Student Affairs IT provides tech support for 15 different departments in the Division of Student Affairs, each with its own unique technology needs. One day I may be conducting requirements gathering for University Police for traffic stop software. The next day, I’m assisting Esports with acquiring video games for their new space. Also, the people I work with are some of the best! We genuinely care about each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
What barriers do you see for women entering the technology workforce?
There’s a lack of women of color in the information technology field. Being a woman in a male-dominated field presents its own challenges, but being female and a person of color can sometimes feel isolating. My hope is that one day this won’t be the norm.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self or other women who are entering the tech workforce?
Don’t be afraid. It’s OK if no one else looks like you. You may be a stepping stone for others who will follow in your footsteps.