Maria Gabriela Ochoa Perez Waechter

8 minute read

Finding where I belong

My ServiceNow journey began in 2017, when my boss at the time mentioned that he would have to find a ServiceNow Administrator to hire. I jokingly responded with “Nah, don’t worry about it. I can figure it out.” He laughed and said, “You’re on.”

Those two words would open up so many opportunities for me, but I had to put in the time to get there. Within three months I got my Certified System Administrator certification and was well on my way to becoming a ServiceNow Administrator. And once I was there, I found myself through ServiceNow. My entire life, I’ve been split between my logical side and my artistic side. I’ve always wanted to pursue art, become a graphic designer or illustrator, and follow my dreams. But we all know that’s such an incredibly difficult path to walk with very limited chances to make a living-much less become famous or wildly successful. But while I had a knack for technology and I loved learning it, I could never fully focus on it.

I always struggled keeping things straight in my head and when I looked around I just saw men being able to do the things I couldn’t. They were able to sit there for hours on end, typing code and churning through projects when I struggled to see anything through to completion. I can’t sit still for very long, and I don’t have the attention span to really sit here and code most of the time. Turns out, this was undiagnosed ADHD and things are much better now, but all I saw was how I fell short in comparison to those around me. I convinced myself I couldn’t do this or do that. I just felt hopeless. I didn’t let myself pursue my dreams because they weren’t financially responsible, and I couldn’t accomplish anything or feel like I amounted to anything in technology because of my perceived shortcomings.

Then I started to work on ServiceNow. I learned about Agile Development. I learned about ITIL and KCS. I learned about all these business processes and so much more thanks to my exposure to ServiceNow. Suddenly there was so much more to learn and it was OK for me to learn a little bit here and there because I could immediately apply these skills to what I was doing at work. I was able to hone what I previously thought of as “inability to concentrate” into fantastic research and learning skills.

As an administrator, you touch all kinds of things in the day-to-day life and work to help your users get their job done. But even more than that, you get to interface with and learn so much about the people who use your system. I got to practice communication and requirements gathering. I also picked up so many soft skills through being an administrator. I really loved interfacing with the people I got to work with, and it felt so fulfilling to be able to solve things and make their work lives a bit easier. And then I discovered Service Portal, which is where my developer life really took off.

I had always wanted to do web design, but I could honestly never get past the initial learning curve. ServiceNow takes care of all of that right off the bat and just gives you the keys to a really shiny car when it comes to the Service Portal. I was suddenly able to fulfill my web design dreams, and I could make it as complex, or as simple, as I wanted it to be. There are so many low-code approaches and so many resources you can tap into, before I knew it, I had learned JavaScript! And CSS! And HTML! I felt successful for the first time in my life. I finally felt accomplished.

The Community is Here for You

Looking back on that time, I now realize how lucky I’ve been. I’ll be honest, many times throughout my career I have felt inadequate and frustrated because it felt like I wasn’t learning fast enough. It’s thanks to the community that I was able to overcome every obstacle that came my way. There are so many amazing individuals who make up the ServiceNow developer community and contribute something every day. Some lend their time and energy to answer questions through many different channels, like Sarah Toulson and Ashley Snyder. Others keep tabs on the Slack community and the ServiceNow community forum to answer questions. Another great example is Travis Toulson’s Salary Influence Survey. Travis is working hard to get information out about the struggles that women and other minorities face.

It’s truly the people in this community who make working on this platform the amazing experience it is. And it’s the actions of the community that inspire me every day to try to multiply and give back the blessings I have received over the past five years.

This is why I try to do what I can and give back by participating in things like our ServiceNow Developer Mentorship program. I hope that by participating in this program, I’m able to provide guidance to other people in our community, help them achieve their own goals, and pass on the figurative baton that I was handed years ago. I want to inspire them to help more people and eventually create a wave of fantastic people who touch many others and add positivity to their lives.

Women Belong in the ServiceNow Community

The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is #BreaktheBias. Women in IT know all too well what it’s like to face biases and stereotypes on a regular basis. To overcome this, one must take action.

Today, I want all women developers in our community to know that it’s OK to accept that there are some things that we can’t actively control. We don’t have to always be at 100%, representing our gender or our identities. We put pressure on ourselves to perform every day, to beat the stereotypes out there, and to prove ourselves. But sometimes we can only trust and support our allies who are out there fighting the legislative battles over what should be basic human rights, and we can only focus on our own daily struggles. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not get overwhelmed by life, work, family, finances, the world news, stress, and studying for my 10-year-long bachelor’s degree. We face so many struggles every day, and it’s ok to take the time to take care of yourself. Some of us have families, some of us are still in school, and some of us are just trying to make it and get by every day. And that’s OK.

My dedication to gender equality shapes my future plans. I want to grow WomenNow into a flourishing community where we can all feel safe to talk to each other and help lift each other up through cloudy days. If you’re a woman developer and want to join our private channel in the snDevs Slack, send me a DM @MGOPW. If you want your voice heard, you can even submit a post for our blog! I hope to host virtual and in-person meetups, help raise funds for charities, and really make it into something that can reach every woman in our community. We can advocate for and build a fantastic network of women who are there for each other.

Through WomenNow and getting to know everyone in our community, I have discovered a passion for community building. I hope to one day take this experience and make a career switch to Developer Advocacy, a field I didn’t even know existed two months ago and has now become my dream. Because I truly believe that at the end of the day, it’s us, the community members, who create the momentum for and have a huge impact on our environment. If you take nothing else away from this I hope that you know that any person, any one of us, can make a positive impact on another person’s life.

Take Action Today

One action that I want you to take today is to positively affect someone else’s life. Maybe it’s just complimenting your coworker’s professionalism when she handled a tough situation at work, or thanking your kid’s school janitor for the work they do. Maybe you put yourself out there and answer a question on the community forums, or you decide to run for local office, or give that person with no experience in IT a chance to prove themselves. (Thanks, Jeff!) Any way that you can help out another human being will only help propel us forward as a community, and help others see that we as women deserve equal treatment (while hopefully brightening another person’s day).

The last thing I’ll say is be kind to yourself. Your struggles are valid and you can overcome each and every one of them. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your goals, and allow yourself to get out there and try your hardest. Work to forgive yourself if you come up short, and then get back up and try again.

And if you can’t convince yourself, send me a message. I’ll repeat this until you believe it.