92. Erica Peterson- Founder & CEO of Moms Can: CODE & Science Tots

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“If I ever need to google ‘how to stay passionate in your career,’ it’s time to stop whatever I’m doing.”


Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.


I have 2 young boys that wake up around 6:30 am so I start my days early. I answer emails and prepare myself for any upcoming classes after coffee. It’s summer break so my mornings are typically spent getting my sons dressed, packing snacks, and getting out the door for an activity at the local library, a museum, or to visit friends. After lunch, I’m always hopeful my toddler will nap but sometimes he needs some encouragement in the form of a long car ride. This is the time where I take phone calls or schedule videoconferences. In the afternoons, I’m typically coworking online with our members, teaching our next cohort of online instructors, or preparing for the upcoming Virtual Summit and Hackathon. It’s not long before I have to make dinner, prepare for another activity with the boys, and get them ready for bed. I’ll often stay up late after they go to bed and continue to work on items I didn’t have the opportunity to cross off my to-do list earlier in the day.


How do you stay passionate in your career?


I don’t believe in doing anything you’re not passionate about. If I ever need to google “how to stay passionate in your career”, it’s time to stop whatever I’m doing.


Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?


Absolutely not. I’ve never taken the traditional path. I didn’t even graduate from high school. When I finally got my act together in college, I studied animal science. After that, I trained to become a cytotechnologist (cytology is the study of cells). I’ve also studied Infant/Toddler Education and before I started my first startup, I was working towards a Masters in STEM Education. It’s my passion for encouraging women and children to pursue STEM careers that’s gotten me to where I am today.


Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?


My must-haves are the Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, and Audible apps. Music, movies, and literature.


It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?


There’s a Rupi Kaur poem: “What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? that since day one. she’s already had everything she needs within herself. it’s the world that convinced her she does not.” I remind myself that I’ve already got everything I need. Fuck them.


What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?


The possibilities!


If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?


I’d like to believe I’ve inspired women of all ages and backgrounds to believe in themselves.


What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?


Tech is a tool to be used for a specific purpose. You and your experience whether it’s traditional or not, can influence how this tool is used. Don’t shy away from helping make the world a better place.


Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.


Just one time? It’s been a pretty great year. Being a TEDxPittsburgh Women speaker, being interviewed by Fox News, winning first place in my category at the Invest in Her Pitch Competition, being a finalist at the SXSW Pitch competition, being a Project Entrepreneur finalist, and being a Founder Gym alum were some pretty great moments. But my biggest accomplishment this year has been creating flexible and remote jobs for moms!


Favorite quote:


“And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom”

-Risk by Anais Nin