The women of Prezi want to speak out. We were inspired by Crystal Beasley’s nerd story, and we decided to write some stories of our own. Over the next several weeks, we will be giving space for some of the amazing women who work at Prezi to share the journeys that brought them here—and we hope that by sharing our stories, we can increase the number of female role models in tech and inspire women to follow their passion wherever it may lead. In the first Prezi #mynerdstory, Andrea, Product Manager of Prezi for Mac/Windows, shares her experience pursuing her interests in IT and business as a young woman in Hungary.
My father worked at the first Hungarian PC service, so my family had a computer at home since I can remember. When I was 7, I maintained the computers in my elementary school classroom. There were three computers with Windows 3.1 on them, and it was my responsibility to install the software and teach my fellow students how to use them. It was wonderful; our classroom was the most famous place in the building, and I had already fallen in love with technology.
I learned programming and basic electronics from my father. We built PCBs on the weekends and played with the code for his billing software. I learned programming in Pascal—I loved it, and after getting my first laptop in 2002, I wrote simple software for the games I played with friends. My first software was an admin system for our dance competitions.
When I was 13, I started to build homepages to make some pocket money. These webpages were really simple, but they were usable, and some of them are still live on the Internet. I am an animal lover and, after spending a lot of time at dog shows, I realized that the breeders didn’t have proper websites, so I created webpages for seven or eight of them. I created one for my own dogs too—my page won an award in 2005. The prize was a year of free internet at home.
By the time high school rolled around, it was clear that I would study mathematics and information technology. Our IT faculty was really small—only 3 or 4 other kids attended classes, and I was the only girl (a role I loved). One of my favorite moments was when I participated in the biggest national IT student competition in a huge dress and full makeup before going to the prom. My score was in the top 20 out of 4,500 participants, which allowed me to graduate with the highest possible scores in IT without taking a final exam.
My hard work meant that I had a tough decision to make when it came to choosing a university. I was thinking a lot about going to engineering school, but I didn’t want to be an engineer—I was interested in business, too. I wanted to work in tech, so I made the completely obvious decision to study Business Information Technology, which trained me to understand how IT can help drive business or how you can do business in IT. It was the perfect stepping stone to working at a tech company like Prezi.
And now I’m product manager for our desktop application. Thanks to my background, I feel like I can sympathize and build better relationships with the developers in my team. I understand engineering needs but can also focus on the business and our users. Some of my friends tell me that as a twenty-three-year-old woman that I’m something of a trailblazer, and perhaps I am, but I’ve always just followed my passion for computers. And that’s what anyone everywhere should do, regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity, or taste in prom dresses—simply find a way to do what you enjoy, regardless of what others might think.