As a photographer trying to sell more of her work, Vik Martin fell into a Tech career, as she gained the beginnings of her knowledge while attempting to sell photos! Now a 'WordPress Nurse', Vik helps people build, fix and improve their WordPress websites.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I took the scenic route. I was a photographer specialising in documentary portraits - not an easy way to make a living, especially if you're living outside London.
So I wondered, when do people need new photos taken? When they're getting a new website built! That was why I set out to learn about the tech side of things - to sell more photos.
I ended up becoming so entranced by websites that they kind of took over. If I ever had any doubts about the direction I was taking, the last year's events have made me very pleased with those choices.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I create, troubleshoot, fix, develop and care for self-hosted WordPress websites, and support DIYers to do the same.
I would never have picked my career out of a 'suitable jobs' identity parade, but it turns out it incorporates a lot of my favourite things. This long list includes Lifelong learning, creative problem-solving collaboration with other creatives, and a lot of relationship building with clients, suppliers and collaborators!
What gets you excited about your industry?
It moves so fast! I'm constantly learning new skills and re-learning things I thought I knew. There's no real opportunity to stagnate or do something the same way twice. I constantly find new problems to solve and new, creative ways of doing that.
Within that speed and constant change is the implication that anything is possible - we just haven't written the code for it yet...
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A much more experienced developer once said to me, "you need to give up trying to know everything. Not knowing quite what's going on, and relaxing into that while you find out, IS your job."
What, or who inspires you?
The list of names would be too long!
I love watching people in my network grow their businesses, and I get really inspired by looking back at businesses that I've known for years and realising how far they've come.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I follow lots of blogs by companies at the forefront of my industry. I also watch what my peers are chatting about in forums and groups (and then look it up if I don't know what they're talking about).
I take a lot of courses to brush up my skills, which creates connections with my peers that can feed that need (for keeping up to speed...).
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
That's quite hard to answer because nearly everything I do is challenging in some way - I get bored otherwise.
One big and scary challenge for me was being co-opted to teach a web design unit on a photography BTEC course. I have never had to learn so much, in so much detail and be so sure of it in such a short amount of time. And I probably never will again.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
After I'd finished flying around the world having exciting adventures, you mean?
I'd stay in the same industry, but instead of concentrating on 'how can I make a living at this?" I would be much more heavily focussed on "how can I contribute?"
Tech has massive, world-changing potential - we've seen that very clearly over the last 10 years - and that can be for good or for all. So I would devote myself to pushing forward ideas of freedom, human rights, care for the environment, honesty and cooperation on the web.
Not aiming too high then...
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Well - this will probably make some people hold their head in their hands, but I'll say it anyway...
I'm an accordion player - and I love it so much it's almost become an obsession.
I was rehearsing an open mic set till the lockdown hit, but now I've become entranced by the music tech side of things, too. Solitary needs must; live streaming and all that!
So when I'm not sitting here at my desk, I'm hanging out in the other end of this room, which doubles as a recording studio.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
It's easy to forget how young the web is - it hasn't fully developed its personality yet, and we're not really used to the wide-open potential that it offers...
My wish would be that it can grow up to be a force for cooperation, co-elevation, and opportunity rather than manipulation and deceit. At the moment, I feel it could go either way.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I'm loving the Hidden Brain podcast at the moment. It's a perfect combination of science and storytelling. I love learning how the world works.
Another fave (though a little bit more niched to women in music tech....) is 'Girls Twiddling Knobs". I love the name, and it discusses a lot of issues relevant to me.
How should people connect with you?