Kristin Dragos combines her loves of logic and creativity into the coding of virtual reality games. Follow Beazle Bee on their website.
When did you first become interested in learning how to code?
Since I was in middle school I loved creating things on the computer. I'd make calendars, fake menus for when my brothers and I played restaurant, fake business cards, etc. When I got older, I became an elementary school teacher, and I really enjoyed bringing technology into the classroom. It was a powerful and engaging tool for my students, and allowed me to be creative in the ways that I taught. I started a computer coding club at the school and we used Scratch. I had to learn coding concepts and use Scratch in order to teach the students. I don't think that I ever truly equated it with coding until much later though.
A year and a half later and with much encouragement from my husband, I attended a web development boot camp, where I more formally learned to code. I loved the fact that even though coding was a very logical process, there was so much creativity in it. I felt like I could essentially create anything I wanted. I was limited only by my creativity.
Where do you currently work?
I recently decided to quit my regular 9-5 and started Beazle Bee, with the goal of developing games and diversifying gaming content available for VR.
What advice do you have for moms wanting to break into technology?
It can be incredibly terrifying making the initial decision to switch careers and get into tech. There were days I wanted to give up because I doubted myself. One of the things that keeps me engaged is the many groups that support women in the industry. I get to meet a lot of really amazing female role models. I've gone to several high profile tech conferences (Google I/O, Facebook's F8, Oculus Connect, etc.) because of these groups. Making these connections early helped me feel more comfortable in the industry.
Any tips for moms on how to find a company that supports working parents?
In general, I look for companies that offer flexibility in employee schedules. In interviews, I'll ask what a typical day looks like, what are the mandatory meetings I'd have to attend, what time does everyone show up in the office, do people ever work from home, etc.
What are ways you stay current? Do you have any favorite websites or podcasts?
I enjoy going to tech conferences and meetup groups to stay current. In 2017, I completed Udacity's Virtual Reality Nanodegree. Now, I am a part-time mentor for that program, so I get to help other students. This helps me to ensure I'm staying current, because Udacity will frequently update and expand upon their curriculum.
I also ensure that I'm always working on small side projects outside of work, which can be difficult with my 5 year old. With each side project, I usually come up with a learning goal for it and use that project as an opportunity to learn it. It helps me better focus my learning and reduces the chances of the perfectionist in me going crazy.