Cristabel Nichols

Cristabel Nichols

Brand Communications Specialist at Cambia Health Solutions

How did you learn about PDXWIT and what keeps you coming back?

I learned about PDXWIT through MeetUp, by searching for women in tech events in Portland. What kept me coming back were all the happy hours, networking opportunities and events where I got to meet important people and allies in tech, that are normally inaccessible. Another thing that kept me coming back was Megan Bigelow, because she’s an equity hero in my book! She walks the talk and is intentional about being inclusive. As a woman of color, I felt like she and PDXWIT matched my values and had my back.

 Can you give us some background on your career in tech? Did you intend this career path? 

I was always curious about coding – I liked how futuristic it seemed. My career has always revolved around equity, outreach, and communications, but being curious about coding, I started doing some online courses.

Now I work with two different CMS systems, and it feels like it’s the start of my coding journey. As a Cambia Brand Communications Specialist, I work with creative purpose, writing inspiring stories while contributing to the tech community. Recently, I had a serendipitous moment at Cambia, where I got to cover Megan Bigelow and other women leaders and allies for a panel on how to address systemic barriers to women-in-tech. It was full circle for me, because it was through the 2017 PDXWIT Summer Soiree, that I learned about Cambia and now I work there. I wrote the Cambia blog “Video Blog: Cambia’s Women in Tech Panel: Value of Equity in Serving Consumers,” and it was so cool for my story to be a positive outcome of PDXWIT and Megan’s hard work.

My goal is to become a Full Stack JavaScript Developer and donate my time to nonprofits or help people building new businesses. My learning style is hands-on, so I am hopeful that for Fall 2018, I will find an affordable, in-person course (send me ideas if you have any!).

What’s the scariest, most overwhelming thing about a new project (This has to be deeply frightening. The thing that keeps you awake at night.)?

The most overwhelming project I have ever encountered is switching industries. A LOT of work led to my getting my dream job at Cambia. First, I made the choice that I wanted a different life, where I have professional and creative fulfillment. I stumbled my way into a local tech conference by googling “women in tech,” and that’s where I found Maigen Thomas, who became my tech-career coach. It was the PAUSE I needed to think about what I wanted and make a strategy towards it. We made a plan for what coding and skills I needed to learn to change industries and how to be strategic with my time and portfolio. Having a mentor, from the tech the industry, helped me make the jump and finally get ahead in my career. It feels like I am finally in a place professionally where I can grow and also use my influence to helps others.

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