From Dial-Up to Dialled In – Danielle Lynch’s story

Danielle Lynch is a Support Technology Specialist at Shopify. An eCommerce company based out of Ottawa, Shopify seeks to empower independent business owners across the world. There are over 800,000 active accounts across 175 countries using Shopify. As the leading multi-channel commerce platform, Shopify enables businesses to focus on what they do best – selling their products. Originally, Shopify‘s CEO, Tobi Lütke created an online store using Ruby Rails to sell snowboard equipment. Later, realizing what he created was a platform that merchants everywhere could use, Shopify is now best known for it’s incredibly unique success story. 

Just as Shopify had an outcome much different than thought, so too does Danielle’s career. She’s tried her hand in multiple industries: from attending culinary school, to working in and managing a barbershop. Through her desire to learn, grow, and be challenged in her daily work, Danielle has truly found her calling in tech and at Shopify as part of their award-winning support team.

When did you begin taking an interest in technology?

I started becoming interested in tech late in my career as a barber. I think the reason behind it was that I wasn’t feeling challenged, and the tech industry always seemed like it was changing so quickly and therefore you had to always be staying on top of your game. I had an understanding that learning to code could open quite a few doors.

What was your first significant memory with technology as a child, and/or a young adult?

When I was younger I really loved Aerosmith, and I remember being connected to the internet through dial up, waiting to watch this video of Steven Tyler. The thing took about 40 minutes to load and my poor mother couldn’t make a phone call.  I don’t think it really hit home then just how much the internet would shape our lives. Thankfully, we’ve moved away from dial-up.

When you were growing up did you think you’d be working in the tech industry today?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, that’s why I’ve had multiple pit stops along the way. Everything from going to culinary school to having worked in the hair industry, I always thought I would end up working with my hands. That being said, most of my hobbies still consist of things that are very tactile so I have a great balance on that front!

Did you go to post-secondary education with a study related to technology?

Although not really considered post-secondary, I am currently doing a full stack coding bootcamp through the University of Toronto.

If not, what was your personal learning journey around technology?

My introduction to tech was a real sink -or -swim experience. I remember coming into it and having words like API and little snippets of JavaScript code thrown at me. It was fairly scary at first because I didn’t really know what all of this meant. A friend of mine was in the higher echelons of our company’s technical team, and showed me a few easier ways to troubleshoot more complex issues. Everything sort of took off from there. 

That being said, I really had to fake it to make it. I still have so much to learn, but when you work in the field every day, it’s easier to rise to the challenge and then apply your newly acquired knowledge.

How often do you take additional courses related to technology?

This is something that is still fairly new to me, and I am currently in the midst of a course. I do plan on trying to take courses every few months in order to stay sharp and continue to push myself in the right direction.

When did you first start working in the tech industry?

I started working in the tech industry two years ago, as a Shopify Guru.

How important is technology to your day-to-day life?

I’m not sure if it’s important, or if I’ve just become used to the commodity of always being connected. I think the world of tech is one that is important for business reasons and also for bringing people together through social media. But I think there’s a delicate balance, and there are a lot of boundaries that could be set in order to make sure it’s not detracting from the positives.

Do you have any involvement outside of work, within the tech industry? If so, how did you get involved and why?

At the moment, I’m attending webinars outside of school in order to become more connected with people in the tech community. 

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

This would have come from my parents, who serially attended school from the time I was a young child. They instilled in me a strong belief that learning is never lost, and that you’re always better for it. My dad used to say something along the lines of “ your brain is a muscle, it also needs to be exercised.” 

What advice would you give another woman, interested in entering the tech industry?

Jump in with two feet. It won’t always be easy, but if you demonstrate a strong desire to learn and some resiliency around whatever challenges you face, you’ll find your stride and be all the better for it.

Danielle’s unorthodox journey from barbershop to Support Technology Specialist at Shopify proves that it’s never too late to switch industries. Despite any initial intimidation, finding a career that challenges you each day in the best way possible makes for a fulfilling future, even if it wasn’t the future you had previously imagined. Taking chances pays off, and Danielle is now thriving in her newfound passion for the tech sector! Her story also shows us the importance of keeping that brain muscle in tip-top shape. Never stop learning – because you never know where that knowledge might lead you. 

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