体育投注注册While in college, Vaughn decided to pursue a career where she could make a difference. After earning her Master of Public Health, Vaughn landed a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
It was a dream job on paper. But in reality, the opposite was true. “I had been used to having a lot of freedom, and this job really tied me down. We had meetings to plan other meetings.”
So she kept doing freelance development work on the side. Some of her CDC colleagues recognized how happy she was when she talked about the web work, and they told her she should consider pursuing it full time. In 2015, that’s just what Vaughn did.
Off to the races
Vaughn adjusted to freelance life fast. It didn’t hurt that the work rolled in at a steady clip. At first, it was mostly WordPress sites for small businesses. Then a friend asked her if she was interested taking on a new kind of project: an e-commerce website built on Shopify.
体育投注注册Vaughn had no experience with the platform, but she quickly fell in love with Liquid, the programming language that powers it. She also liked the challenge of creating a virtual retail space. “I loved the idea that a company could make money specifically from something I built,” she says.
体育投注注册Later, Vaughn shifted her freelance business to focus almost exclusively on Shopify websites. She got listed in Shopify’s expert directory for Atlanta, which resulted in even more inquiries. These days, the biggest challenge Vaughn faces is choosing which projects to keep, which ones to outsource, and which ones to turn away.
To manage her growing business, Vaughn has curated a small network of creative professionals — mostly designers and other developers. She’s playing project manager just as often as developer. Clearly, “freelance” fails to adequately describe Vaughn’s business at this point.
“Everyone still thinks I am a one-woman show, and that’s just not the case,” she says. But Vaughn is reluctant to identify her business as an agency. She has no full-time employees, and she doesn’t intend to hire any. For now, her plan is to rebrand in 2017 as something more than freelance, but different from an agency.
体育投注注册This newer, somewhat nebulous model is increasingly common in the creative community. Vaughn is part of a rising tide of young creatives who are rejecting the agency path in favor of a more communal approach that allows for both independence and collaboration. And, in Atlanta anyway, a sizable number of these people happen to be women.
Code of conduct
Vaughn doesn’t think of herself as a “female coder.” But it’s not really possible to ignore the fact that she’s a woman in a field that, even in 2016, is largely dominated by men. Did she feel like she was going against the grain when she decided to become a developer?
体育投注注册“Absolutely, yes!” But Vaughn is quick to add, “Less so now than I did 3 years ago.”
Still, there is an indisputable gender gap in the technology industry, and it’s not necessarily shrinking. As at Code Conference 2016, “When I graduated, 34 percent of undergraduates in computer science were women…we’re now down to 17 percent.”
体育投注注册But in Atlanta, one gets the feeling that things are a little more equal. Groups like Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, and Rails Girls have a robust presence in the city. If you’re a woman who wants to learn to code or further your career as a developer, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities for community and support in Atlanta.
体育投注注册“There is a big push for promoting tech-based and STEM fields to women here,” Vaughn says. “A strong community of women who are already in tech are really pushing and helping each other.”
Vaughn hesitates to call this activism. It’s more like encouragement and education. “It’s a matter of letting these women know, ‘This is something you can do, and you can do it well.’”