Meet Ruth Beassem, Mom, Woman in Tech, and Woman Crush of the Week

By Awanto Margaret - June 13, 2019

Today's interview is with self made IT professional, Ruth Beassem. She holds a Master’s in Business and an undergrad degree in corporate communications and currently works as  DevOps Engineer. Ruth relates to us the steps she took to break into the tech industry, how she balances work and  running a home, and  how she stays focused through it all.

Tell us about your Journey to becoming an IT Professional. 

My journey to a career in STEM only really began after I got married and started having kids. I have a Master’s in Business and an undergrad degree in corporate communications. So as you can see, not STEM related. However, after I started a family, which was pretty early that is 21, my priorities changed. I was looking for the balance! My first priority was being a wife and mother but I still wanted and needed a high in demand, flexible and high paying job (I had school loans to pay off and diapers to buy!). This led me to pursue computer engineering. My husband was already in this field when I started my journey so it made things much easier to get the information I needed and where I needed to get that information. I started as Jr Linux Admin, then I did a couple of coding boot camps and have continued studying even after years of work. Today, I am DevOps Engineer in a constantly evolving field, so you have to love learning to thrive in this field. Technology is constantly changing and to stay relevant you have to be willing to keep your head in the books and ahead. This is one of the reasons I enjoy working in the software engineering field.  As I didn't have a university degree in engineering, I knew I needed a portfolio and references to get my foot in the door.  I had to volunteer my newly acquired knowledge. This is the hard part getting in the door, getting people to give you a chance. You have to grow a thick skin and quickly understand your value doesn't come from outside or else you will go depressed with the amount of NOs you get after interviews.  It was very challenging in the beginning because computer languages are like learning a whole new foreign language and added to the fact that technology evolves at what seems to be every 5 seconds.  The advantage for newbies is that you can learn what the new hot languages in demand are, and skip the line and be ahead of the folks who have been in the field for longer, who have not made it a habit to learn new skills.  

 How did you choose your career path?

I get bored pretty quickly. I like working alone most of the time, I am a mom...whatever I do needs to be flexible and high return to be worth my time.  Based on this description I decided to research what career path would fit into my life’s goal.  I needed something where I have interesting challenges, where I could actually see what and how my input translates to real life, something I don't have to discuss with people every single minute to get it done even though I need the teamwork effort for certain challenges, and most importantly anything I did had to give me the flexibility I needed as a mom, a remote position if possible. 

What's a day in Ruth's Life like?

My day usually starts at 4:30 am. I get ready, go work out and get back home by 6:15 am. Next, I make breakfast for kids, wake them up and they get ready for school/eat. I take kids to school and get back home to start my workday (usually working from home). I usually have help with my little one at home but when I need a break from the computer I play with her and give her attention as much as I can. At the end of the school day, I pick up my kids around 3:30 pm, we get home by 4 pm, have snack and do homework. Depending on the day, they might have different sports activities (their dad usually handles that department which gives me time to make dinner and /or finish any projects from work not completed), after which I supervise bath time. Dinner is usually served between 6 pm and 6:30 pm on weekdays.  By 7:30 pm we have family devotion (Christian worship, kids Bible reading and prayer). From 8 pm kids take turns having one on one time with me while others brush their teeth as they wait their turn. It gives me a chance to give each of my children my undivided attention for 10 to 13 minutes each. They get to choose whatever we do at that time. I kiss them goodnight by 8:30 pm. Between 8:30 pm and 9 pm, I try to have one on one time with hubby, helps us get on the same page for the day and next day.  By 9 pm I push myself to have 'me time' which usually is reading before I fall asleep. I have an alarm which lets me know to be in bed by 9:30 pm. I am an early riser, as such I need to be in bed at a certain time so I don't feel exhausted the next day. The weekends have more free time scheduled and a lot of games. We are an athletic family. I know my life is scheduled to the dot :) but I would go crazy with a big family if we do not schedule 90% of what we do. It helps everyone get attention, contribute to the family and support each person's goals in the family. 

 If you were to meet your younger self today,  what advice will you give her?

Dear younger me, don't let people's reactions and comments bother you that much. Receive constructive feedback from those who are honest with you in the good and bad. At the end of the day be very selective as to whose feedback really matters.   

What has been the most challenging thing about being a minority, if any and how do you overcome it?

I would say being black hasn't really made much of a difference for me in IT. I guess because we are behind the scenes and this field actually has more minority races. Where I have felt discrimination is the fact that I have children or each time I got pregnant, or was coming back after having a baby.  It was always a challenge finding people who would trust that you would do your job as required. 
I overcome these instances all the time by listening to the advice I give my younger self. It's a job, not my life, nothing personal. Do your job and be out. Forget the comments. The people whose opinions matter in my life are at home (my husband and kids). I don't have to waste my energy trying to prove anyone right or wrong, my nuclear family is the only ones who have that kind of power in my life. If I sign up for a job, I show up, do what is required of me, contribute when asked and move on. That is what I signed up for so I deliver and move on to next family goal. The job is just one puzzle to help me reach a family goal.  Once I think that way, no amount of bullying or stares bother me outside my house for I already know where my value comes from. It is true that at the moment it might get to me like for a minute but then I have to consciously remind myself of what my objective is, and who actually has a say in my life for it to matter. 

A big thank you to Ruth for taking time to interview with us. If you have ever wondered about making a career change, completely different from what you studied in school, I hope this story encourages you to take a leap of faith. I really enjoyed talking to Ruth and getting to hear her story. A big bonus for me was the parenting tips.

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