For Jamie Kaushik, teaching and learning are a huge part of her professional life. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I did some other stuff in my career, but no matter what I was doing, I always had the desire to teach.”
Jamie is a senior technical instructor (VCI) for VMware Learning, where she teaches customers how to use VMware products. Part of the role requires that she match her lessons to the expertise level of the learners, who may not be familiar with VMware products. I was able to speak with Jamie about her journey in tech and how she arrived at VMware.
Reader, writer, teacher
Believe it or not, Jamie didn’t always see herself in a technology career. In college, she majored in English writing and communications. She’s so in love with reading and writing that to this day she challenges herself to read 25 books each year.
It took Jamie a while to use turn her passion into a career. Her first job after college, in a college admissions department, wasn’t the right fit for her. She decided she wanted to use her degree but wasn’t enamored by the prospect of trying to be a bestselling author or journalist.
She thought instead that technical writing might be the right opportunity. Luckily, her employer’s sister school offered an online IT program she could attend for free. Jamie didn’t even have to complete the course before she earned her first technical writing job. She quickly transitioned from that writing role to a teaching position when her boss asked if she wanted to be an instructor. Jamie had written the help manual, after all.
“That was the kiss of death that made me want to leave [being a technical writer]. I knew this is what I wanted to do full time.”
Confidence conquers imposter syndrome
From there, it was “a series of crazy events” that finally led Jamie to VMware. Crazy, because Jamie had to figure things out on the fly at every position she’s had. Luckily, she’s “ravenous to learn.” Jamie quickly realized that even though learning on the job is challenging, each career stop presented an opportunity to build on what she already knew.
“I was like a duck,” she remembers. “Calm above water but pedaling like crazy underneath.”
At VMware, she continued pedaling but only at first. You see, Jamie often teaches a room full of men. Initially, “1000% yes,” she was intimidated to teach in this situation. “I didn’t feel confident I knew what I was talking about and didn’t have degrees to back myself up.”
“Intimidation didn’t come because the students were men but because these people have been in the industry for 20-30 years by the time they get into my classroom.” To overcome her imposter syndrome, she continued to build upon her existing knowledge.
“I took VMware certification exams and passed them. Knowing I have certifications people in this room are still working hard to get, I know what I’m talking about now.” Her two certifications are in VCP-NV and VCP-SEC. VCP-SEC is “the biggest feather in my cap because it includes one of the products I don’t teach.”
Jamie’s passion for learning at every stop along the way has paid off. “Now, I walk into a room and even if I am the only woman in there, it’s not intimidating because I know what I’m talking about, because all these positions that have given me the opportunity to truly learn the things I didn’t know from a technical perspective.”
Pearls of wisdom
Her story is proof that following your passion can lead to a rewarding professional life. Jamie knows that other women will want to turn their passion into a similarly rewarding STEM career. She offers them two pieces of advice.
- “Don’t let minimal experience get in your way … If you’re interested in tech and have the desire to learn, there will always be somebody who has the desire to teach you and guide you along the way.”
Jamie knows how helpful a mentor can be. At her last long-term job before VMware, there weren’t a lot of women. So, she befriended another woman as technical as she was and excellent at what she did. “I tried to embody some of the things she did and use her as a sounding board when things came up [that] I didn’t know how to handle or that were a little tricky.”
Jamie now pays that experience forward. When she sees another woman in a position she was once in, she will “bend over backward to do what [she] can to help them get there because she knows how difficult the tech-career journey can be.
- Her second piece of advice: “Go in with the understanding that it’s an uphill battle. And build upon what you’ve learned before.”
STEM careers are still challenging professional environments for women. Jamie has made them a bit easier by working hard, learning on the job, and not being intimidated by things she doesn’t know. She also makes work easier on herself by leaving room for the favorite things in her personal life, like playing with her kids, doing jigsaw puzzles, ballroom dancing and, of course, reading.
Read about more amazing women on the VMware Learning team:
- Evelyn Baymon’s extraordinary career journey in tech
Seeing the lightbulb go off for customers is what keeps Jamie coming back every day. “When students get it and you see or hear them get it, that feeling is why I do what I do.” Each member of VMware’s Learning team shares this excitement for helping customers, which is what makes them so successful.
Learn more about VMware Learning and the various resources we offer customers engaging with VMware technology.