WIT Success Story – Katie Patch

Job: Web Developer at CotingaSoft
Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland ( just outside of DC)

katie-patch

Katie Patch is one of the growing number of women in New Orleans who entered the tech arena through a career in the arts. She studied illustration in college and her last job before CotingaSoft entailed creating elaborate window displays for a retail store in the French Quarter.

Katie never pictured herself to be much of a techy and says her main exposure to technology as a kid was the usual 80’s video games like “Super Mario World.” In early 2015, she attended a WordPress Workshop hosted by New Orleans Women in Tech because she wanted to update her old artist website. When her boss at the retail store heard about her new-found skill, he set her to work on the store’s e-commerce website and she was hooked. She says, “Working on the site was my favorite part of the day. So when Tech Talent South (TTS) started their first Ruby on Rails bootcamp in New Orleans, I applied.”

Katie says that WIT’s president, Torrie Adams, has been her “kick-ass tech career mentor” and credits Torrie with kickstarting her career in tech. “She guided me throughout the whole process which I am infinitely grateful for. Moving into tech gave me a supportive community from the ladies at WIT to my cohort at TTS to all of the awesome tech meetups.”

It’s well documented that many women struggle with self-assuredness in their professional lives, and Katie says she’s no different. “Breaking into a new field definitely brought up a lot of self doubts. I worked really hard to get past those fears and I realized when I admitted them to people they were surprised.” Despite those doubts, she found the New Orleans tech community to be extremely welcoming and credits a large part of that to WIT. She also says that the women-specific scholarships at Tech talent South really helped inspire her to get serious about a career in technology.

The fact that Katie gets to continuously learn and grow both her technology and business skills makes her job at CotingaSoft “the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.” She enjoys working with local companies to build software to help their businesses thrive, and says she has really great co-workers that are constantly challenging her to question and think in different ways.

Her advice to other women who want to break into tech is to reach out to the community. She says, “If you don’t know anyone, go to Hack Night and start asking questions. There are tons of opportunities out there.” She also encourages people to use the local and online resources to help improve their skills. “The WIT workshops are an amazing asset to have. Udacity is also a great online resource that has a ton of free classes to get started with coding.” She sites her grandfather’s advice to “set a time to work and stick to it.” Katie says she didn’t take this advice to heart when her grandfather first said it in reference to painting, but now considers it extremely important to learning and finding work. She quotes Peter De Vries, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”

Lagniappe Q&A

What is your favorite thing about living in New Orleans?
It’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful here. There’s a term called ‘elegant decay’ that cities like New Orleans and Venice encompass. There is a magnificently opulent and decadent history and architecture to New Orleans that makes the city grow in its beauty as it ages.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not at work?
With a new house I’m painting more walls and furniture then canvases but I love oils and watercolors. I’m also prone to running around the levee, period and sci-fi novels, and movie marathons.

Who is a woman you really admire and why?
I’m in love with the French painter Claire Basler who takes up residence in gorgeous old buildings, brings all sorts of flora inside, and paints these gigantic landscapes on walls, canvasses, huge ceramic vases, lampshades and basically anything she can get her hands on. The way she has built her life around nature, meditating on it and honoring it, is amazing.

What’s your favorite New Orleans food?
Crawfish. I love everything about a crawfish boil. ‘Tis the season!

Favorite Website, App or gadget
I still haven’t gotten over the wonder of sky gazing apps. They’ve been around for a while but to me they’re a perfect example of tech helping you get back into nature versus keeping you from nature. They’re also just so darn cool.

Wendy Dolan