About Marissa Burke
How did you learn about PDXWIT and what keeps you coming back?
I first learned about PDXWIT from an amazing manager-turned-mentor that I met working a temp job at an education nonprofit. She had a successful career in nonprofit and government before becoming a technical writer, and she was very open about having benefited from the PDXWIT mentorship program. She knew that I was looking to make a career switch, so she signed us both up for a PDXWIT happy hour.
At the event, I remember feeling uplifted listening to women who seemed genuinely happy in their careers. It was also refreshing to meet other women who were proactive about starting a new career path. Having the opportunity to speak to recruiters also forced me out of my comfort zone.
I keep coming back because I feel welcomed by a very solution-oriented group. The meetups allow me to build friendships while I navigate new territories, and I enjoy having the chance to encourage and support others while they pursue their goals. I attend the events because I want to be a part of a positive influence that’s helping shape Portland’s growing tech community.
Can you give us some background on your career in tech? Did you intend this career path?
I definitely did not intend to have a career in tech. I studied foreign languages and literature, and I avoided any class or job that I thought would keep me away from speaking French or Spanish. I moved to Portland several years ago to attend college, and I felt very empowered volunteering and interning at education-focused nonprofits. That initially translated to immersion in advocacy work and several jobs at organizations providing housing and social services. I still feel connected to that work, and I look at this career change as a new way to problem-solve.
Do you have a travel experience or a change in fortune that impacted your life that you can share with us?
After graduating college, I was granted a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, and I spent a year living and working in Bucaramanga, Colombia. That experience has informed all of my career decisions, and I have dedicated myself to becoming bilingual. Combined with nonprofit work, the ability to live abroad and learn Spanish has changed how I spend my time and who I want to spend it with. It also granted me a life-long pursuit. I’ll never be a native Spanish speaker, but I now have better skills to learn from my community.
Are there any organizations or programs that you’re passionate about and want to share with
I volunteer with Tavern Books, a local small poetry press that supports young women poets. We're currently reading submissions to the Wrolstad Series:
The Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series exists to champion exceptional literary works by young women poets through book publication in The Living Library, the Tavern Books catalog of innovative poets ranging from first-time authors and neglected masters to Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel Laureates.
I'm a member of Portland's Hostels International Explore the World Scholarship Committee. Applications open in 2019!