Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch
TechGirlz volunteer Anna E. Cook loves her career as a user-experience (UX) designer. She gets to combine her passions for creative thinking, understanding human behavior, and technology, and there’s always something new to learn.
“Since the web and mobile apps are always growing and changing, there’s always new technology emerging and new user behaviors to study, so my job never gets boring,” Anna explains.
As a UX designer, Anna creates wireframes, high fidelity mockups, and prototypes to help people bring their ideas to life. Her designs are driven by analytics and qualitative data from user interviews.
Anna started coding and using Adobe Photoshop at age 13, and a digital art class at age 17 inspired her to pursue a career as a designer. She majored in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Digital Art and minored in Technology Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Several teachers and mentors inspired Anna to pursue a career in UX design, including Edwige Simon at CU-Boulder; Ashley Carter, a designer and coder; and Megan Kilpatrick, founder and CEO of Alloy Magnetic.
“I’ve worked with so many amazing women that have empowered me to become who I am today I can’t even begin to thank them all,” Anna says.
Now that Anna has forged a career in tech, she’s inspiring the next generation of girls to do the same. Anna wanted to use her professional skills to support her community, so she decided to volunteer as a TechGirlz instructor.
“TechGirlz is a perfect combination of teaching, helping girls, and my professional work,” Anna says.
She notes how easy it is to start volunteering with TechGirlz and encourages others with a passion for tech to get involved. She recommends that volunteers start out as teaching assistants before running their own TechShopz, so they can learn from other instructors.
For Anna, TechGirlz provides just the right setting for girls to learn about technology. “I think it’s important for girls to have a fun, adventurous, and free environment to challenge and explore their creative thinking and tech skills,” Anna explains.
This supportive environment is especially important, Anna says, due to the challenges girls may face in their careers.
“I think imposter syndrome is one of the most difficult things about being a woman in tech, and in any professional field. It’s important that we feel comfortable asking questions and learning without being concerned about whether or not we deserve the careers we have. That’s a huge part of why TechGirlz is important to me,” Anna says.
Anna has met lots of inspiring people during her time as a TechGirlz volunteer, including a teaching assistant named Paige and Denver Public Library staff who have helped TechShopz run smoothly. She also had the opportunity to meet members of the TechGirlz leadership team, who helped her see the impact TechGirlz is making across the country.
Anna is excited about the future of technology, including augmented and virtual reality. Outside of tech, she also enjoys drawing, yoga, running, video games, reading, snowboarding, and cooking.
Between her work and hobbies, Anna still finds time to lead TechShopz and hopes others in the Denver area (and beyond) will do the same.
“I’ve learned so much from the girls in my workshops, more than they may even learn from me. I’m a better designer and person for doing it,” she says.
To become a TechGirlz volunteer like Anna, visit our Volunteer page and sign up today!