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April Sharpie of the Month: Tessa Clement

This month, we caught up with Tessa Clement to learn more about her journey into tech!

An illustration celebrating the Sharpie of the Month, with a photo of the winner, Georgia, smiling.

Name: Tessa Clement

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Role: Machine Learning Engineer at Annovating

Tell me a bit more about your journey into tech.

My journey into tech began four years ago when I decided to dive into programming through Codam College's Selection Piscine in Amsterdam. It's a month-long, intensive programming initiation where you start from the basics.

Before this shift, I went to law school, which I didn't find as engaging as the tech world. Stepping into the piscine at Codam, I had no programming experience at all—on the first day I was even figuring out how to turn on the iMac. Despite this, I quickly found programming to be enjoyable and fulfilling. That month, I was consistently feeling energized and looked forward to tackling new assignments each day. It was during this time that I realized programming was the right path for me.

After the piscine, I was accepted into Codam, where I began my education in software engineering. I explored full-stack development and conversational AI before settling into a role as a machine learning engineer in the medtech sector. I was drawn to medtech for its potential to make a big impact and I love machine learning because it presents constant puzzles, from data selection to model deployment, keeping the work challenging and interesting.

What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

When I was learning to be a software engineer, I found AI and machine learning really interesting, but math was a big challenge for me. I was worried that machine learning would be too difficult because it uses a lot of math and statistics. This worry stopped me from getting into it right away. But after working in different areas and gaining more experience, I decided not to let my fear of failing shape my career choices. So, I switched to machine learning. With my background in software engineering, I didn't find the technical parts of machine learning too hard, and I started to pick up the math part as I went along. This way of learning has been working well for me, and I really enjoy what I do now. I've learned that math, especially statistics, is important for machine learning, but it's something you can learn step by step. So, don't let the fear of math keep you from giving it a try.

What are some of the resources from SheSharp that have helped you with your growth?

I got to know SheSharp at their hackathon I joined last year, teaming up with Nui and Ornella. We clicked right away, working so well together that we ended up winning the "Best Team" award. It was such a powerful feeling to connect with other women in tech and experience the strength of women working together. That moment was unforgettable. We've stayed in touch, even catching up a few months ago. It's become clear to me how valuable it is in tech to have female friends and mentors for advice and sharing stories. This support network has been a helpful part of my journey.

What advice would you give someone wanting to break into the tech industry?

Jump into hackathons! My experience at the SheSharp hackathon is a perfect illustration of how beneficial they can be. They're excellent for networking, picking up new skills, and having a blast while being creative. I've met many amazing people at the hackathons I've attended.

Also, don’t let fear hold you back in going for the role or opportunity you’re interested in. In tech, it's natural to make mistakes and encounter things you're not familiar with—that's part of the learning curve. You cannot know about every tool, framework and programming language out there all at once and that is okay. The beauty of this field lies in the endless opportunities for learning and advancement. View every mistake or gap in knowledge as a chance to grow. Embrace the learning process, take things one step at a time, and don't forget to enjoy the dynamic and exciting world of tech.

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