Women in Technology: V Collins-Ross

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Liquid Web’s Testing Engineer on the vast possibilities made reality by tech, how they found themself at Liquid Web, and the power of following your interests.

Women in Technology - V Collins-Ross
“Find something that resonates with you, or something you find especially interesting,” says Collins-Ross, “and then just do the absolute hell out of it.”

VCR loves the multifaceted nature of technology. “It’s infinitely versatile. From infrared scanners that help doctors find veins, to prosthetic limbs that restore the sensation of touch, to viewing writings on ancient scrolls without opening and destroying them, technology gives us ways to connect with each other, our shared past, and try to plan for the future.”

That they should revel in the many avenues technology has to offer comes as no surprise to those who know them—VCR is well-versed in versatility. In between crochet projects (currently a gnoll-styled monster doll), and knitting projects including doll clothes and accessories, V also sews. But pursuits outside of their work life aren’t limited to craft making. An avid reader, VCR is also the author of niche fantasy and sci-fi. “I’m slowly learning Hebrew,” they say, “which is fun because I love languages. I always have projects that I look forward to.”

VCR marries their virtuosity to their admiration for the widespread abilities of technology in their work as a Testing Engineer at Liquid Web, where they have worked for over a decade. “I work with a great team to make sure the code we make works and looks as good as possible,” says VCR. “Typically, I define my work like this: I get to break things, duplicate breaking the things, take notes on how I broke the things, and send it back to be fixed. When that’s done, I get to test it again to make certain the problem has been resolved. I love the work.”

But it is not work they came to quickly. “Before Liquid Web, I worked in almost everything but construction,” they quip. “ Fast food, customer service, retail, apartment cleaning, hotel housekeeping, catering, floral arranging—the list goes on. But my first job was thirty years ago at Anastasia’s Greek Doughnuts & Pastries, in Okemos, Michigan.”

It was through the encouragement of their brother and a few friends who worked at Liquid Web that they finally decided to apply and pursue a career in tech. After applying, VCR was relatively certain they wouldn’t get the job, fearing a lack of the computer skills needed to work in a company like Liquid Web. “I was geeky enough, at least,” they laugh. “I learned the computery parts afterwards.”

Before stepping into the current role as a Testing Engineer two years ago, VCR worked in Support for eight-and-a-half years. (“I was on 3rd shift for about six years of that,” they say. “Shout out to 3rds!”) Working in Support, they say, was hectic, but they have a deep appreciation for everything learned from teammates during their time together.

Since taking the leap into tech over ten years ago, VCR has grown to appreciate the pace, the excitement, and the coworkers. “There’s always something new going on,” they say. “There are always improvements to be made. I love the flexibility of my hours (with two kids, random things come up 71% of the time). I also love the eternal co-geek-ness of everyone working at Liquid Web. This is the first place I’ve ever worked where I can make an obscure reference to something, and at least one other person gets it. I’m always learning new things from everyone I work with.” As for the source of motivation, VCR cites their two children, who are six and nine years old. “They get more amazing every day,” they said.

VCR is excited about what’s in store for the tech field. “I think that as more women and non-binary folks get involved in tech,” they say, “it will necessarily grow in diversity, which will provide a larger scope of view for the products and ideas developed and created. It would be nice to have a sea change in the social stigmatization of ‘otherness’; acceptance of people as they are, rather than a value they are meant to prove.”

When encouraging young women to become involved in tech, VCR points again to the power of the tremendous versatility of the field as a way to attract people to the field. “Find something that resonates with you, or that you find especially interesting,” says Collins-Ross, “and then just do the absolute hell out of it. Not sure what you like in tech? Look at what you like to do in other areas of life; there is a way to combine anything.” They point out tech pioneers like Irene Posch, a researcher and artist who has embroidered a programmable computer, and to musician and innovator Imogen Heap who has invented MI.MU gloves, a wearable musical instrument. “If Irene Posch can embroider an actual computer and Imogen Heap can make gloves that are even cooler than a theremin, there is absolutely a way to combine your specialty with some aspect of technology to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts,” says VCR. “And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! The progression of technology is such that if an idea isn’t feasible now, it might be commonplace within ten years. You might be the one to forge that path.”

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