Shérry Delich has been a thinker and a tinker her entire life. Her love for computers began with a general appreciation for engineering from an early age. Upon earning a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering and Physics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2003, Delich worked as a software developer at a variety of companies across the metropolitan region before joining VinSolutions two years ago.
In addition to mentoring for two years with CoderDojo, Delich is active as a volunteer with Girl Scouts, as her two older daughters are both Girl Scouts. She provides support for troops in the Northland area with cookie sales, day camp staff, and recruiting efforts.
1. How did your interest in coding begin?
It’s not just computers; it’s engineering in general. I came from a family of six kids, and I hung out with my older brother, who is seven years older. He loved working on small-gas engines and anything mechanical in nature. I kind of picked that up from him. I enjoy manufacturing things out of different things. I am really big into robotics; physics is what my actual major was in. There’s always been a solution to manufacturer what I need.
2. How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
I see the overlap mostly when I volunteer for organizations that have no technology. With Girl Scouts, everything was a paper form – online- forming something takes me 20 seconds. You’ll see these different organizations that are stuck in the Stone Age, and I really do enjoy helping them out. It’s about baby steps and not overwhelming them, though. That’s just the way I teach my kids, too, with logical thinking. Instead of them saying, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t open this,” I ask them, “How do you think we should open this?” I do that a lot with my Girl Scouts, too.
3. What do you enjoy most about your work?
I’d have to say the flexibility. I have a lot of flexibility when it comes to my architecture. We have a set of architects that pretty much give us lead developers free reign. I get the opportunity to introduce different technologies that I want.
4. What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
It’s not so much now, but early on in my career, it was immediate distrust. Two people would get hired on at the same time, with the same background, and I felt like I had to reprove myself. I’m very forthcoming with my age now. I feel like I have to go in there >now and say, “I am 37 years old.” I felt I was doing well to not be noticed, and that has changed dramatically for me now.
5. What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one that is more coding-based?
Really looking at yourself and decide why you are trying to do this. I find that a lot of younger women that I talk to these days are looking for a better income. This is not the way to do it. You have to have a true love for it. I love the fact that I can spend all day to find a problem, but a lot of people rip their hair out over it.
6. If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
One, 90 percent of the stereotypes you hear about us being fueled off of Mountain Dew and beef jerky and Twizzlers is not true. We are not all the same. I find that to be one of the more frustrating things. And, it’s not just women: I’ve worked with men who also have found it to be the same.
7. How do you envision STEM evolving into our daily lives?
The STEM question is huge, especially with my kids: There is a huge push for STEM in schools, and there is a huge push for STEM in Girl Scouts. It’s one of the things that gets the recruiters going. The only thing I can really stress to people is that if your child does not want to do it, don’t cram it down their neck. We still need the artists and painters of the world; not everyone is going to be an engineer. You can’t force a kid into it, or they are going to learn to hate it.