Home > Articles > Web Development > HTML/CSS

My Life in Tech: Moving Sideways Into Technology

Jennifer Kyrnin shares her story of her indirect route to the world of web design and development, and how a desperate need for English reading material in Uzbekistan led her to her career in tech.
Like this article? We recommend

Over the last two decades, I have created a wonderful and fulfilling career in web design and development. But I didn’t start there.  My journey has taken me from Animal Science to Linguistics to teaching English as a Foreign Language in Uzbekistan, which is where, in desperation, I stumbled upon a magazine that would change the course of my career.  In this article, I share my story of how I became a web development expert – and how any woman who wants to can get into tech.

Growing up I lived in a very tech-centric family. My father was an electrical engineer, and my mother was a nurse. We often saw the newest gadgets well before any of the other kids. My brother and I shared a computer--a TRS-80--when we were nine and ten respectively, and we learned to program in BASIC and Pilot on that computer. It was always assumed that I would be somehow involved in technology.

I loved math. I loved the precision of numbers and how you could describe the world and everything in it using numbers and formulas. When I got the computer, programming seemed a natural progression.

But somehow, like most girls, that love got sidetracked until, while I was still taking high-level STEM classes in high school, I found I was more comfortable reading Science Fiction.

When I got to college, I went into Animal Science because it seemed interesting. But unlike most of my classmates, when asked if I was going to go into vet school after graduation, I said, “No, I'm going to open a bookstore.” This always got me funny looks and sometimes a laugh. But the honest answer was that I had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated.

When I moved into college level math classes, I found that the style for teaching a group of 200 people calculus seemed a deliberate attempt to bore 199 of them, thus weeding out all but that one pure math geek. I stopped taking calculus after two quarters. I was getting decent grades, and it wasn't required for my major.

Mid-way through college, I had something of a crisis of faith. I didn't know what to do with myself. All my friends were starting to get jobs and internships. I was working as a monkey cage cleaner, a parking services officer, and a cat wrangler. I knew that none of these jobs were long term, so I took a year off to “find myself.”

During that year, I realized that one of my required general ed courses, Linguistics 1, was the one class that I found most interesting. Linguistics was the class where I read every word in the textbook. I can't say that I stayed awake in the 3 pm to 4:30 pm afternoon lecture, but it was the one afternoon class where I diligently tried to stay awake.

After my year off from school I switched my major to Linguistics. It was one of the best choices I ever made. When people would ask me what I was going to do with a Linguistics degree, I would answer, “The same thing I was going to do with an Animal Science degree. Open a bookstore.”

The Bookstore Could Wait—First Peace Corps

The other thing I had realized in my year off was that I should probably come up with some type of plan for post-graduation. I'd dreamed of seeing the world. I'd been an exchange student to Australia in High School, and the Peace Corps seemed to be the logical next step. I started learning what I'd need to do to get accepted.

You have to have a bachelor's degree to get into the Peace Corps, but approximately nine billion BA recipients graduate and realize that they have no job waiting for them, and decide to volunteer. In order to get in with a BA in Linguistics I'd have to prove I had mad skills at something they wanted, or be incredibly lucky.

Luckily for me, in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed., and the State Department offered aid to the new Commonwealth of Independent States in the form of nearly 200 Peace Corps volunteers.

I had just graduated and was working in retail, living with my parents and hoping to hear from the Peace Corps (but not holding my breath). At the end of the summer I got a call. Would I be interested in going to Uzbekistan? “Yes, yes I would!” I answered breathlessly while thinking, “where the heck is Uzbekistan?” One of the languages I studied for my Linguistics major was Russian,  and that put me on the short list for volunteers. Three days after my twenty-fourth birthday I was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, blearily looking around at the exotic city I would be living in, teaching English, for the next two years.

Did You Say Teaching English? I Thought You Were a Techie

By the time I had gotten to Tashkent, I had my Linguistics degree, loved learning languages, and enjoyed teaching American slang to impressionable Uzbek and Russian teenagers. For entertainment I would read anything in English that I could find. It was in the Peace Corps that I read all of Danielle Steel and all of the available Stephen King novels. I was desperate for books in English.

So when I found this strange looking magazine with a garish, neon cover, called Wired, I snapped it up and took it home to my apartment overlooking Mukimi square. There I sat with my cat and read all about this fascinating new development called hypertext.

With hypertext you could write books, articles, stories, and more and then put placeholders in to point people to other related books, articles, and stories.

In 1991, this was a huge deal. Everything we read at the time was self-contained. If you enjoyed a book, you had to hope that the library or the bookstore had more by the same author, or that the sales person could recommend a similar one. The idea of having links to more to read inside a document was revolutionary to me.

At that time I was reading as many as seven novels a week. So links to more to read were a lifeline for me. And I thought, sitting in my Tashkent apartment, “Wow! I wish I could be doing something really interesting like that!”

Web Technology Doesn't Have to be Just for the Techies

When I returned from the Peace Corps, I got a job as a technical support representative at the then-largest nationwide ISP—NETCOM. I may not have known anything whatsoever about the Internet, but I could read--and I did. Often when I was answering the phones, I was frantically looking things up on the nascent World Wide Web just so that I would have a decent answer for my customers. I wasn't always successful.

From there I applied to join the email technical support team and was quickly promoted to the tech writer for the entire Tech Support department. I wrote the answers that support reps then passed on to the customers.

Our web team was just ramping up then., They had built an online knowledgebase of information about the NETCOM products and services, and the webmaster asked me to join his team as their writer. Of course, for that I had to know HTML, but I'd been teaching myself in my spare time.

When I’d been working in the web team at NETCOM for about six months, my boss suggested I look at a content provider we were partnering with. “They don’t have an HTML expert. You should apply,” she said. So I submitted a writing sample about automated link checkers for websites to an unknown company called The Mining Company. I went live in October 1997 as their HTML Guide. In 1999 they changed their name to About.com, and I’ve been writing for them about web design and development ever since.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

You don't have to be a techie person to like technology. And in fact, I suspect most of my friends would laugh at the thought that I was ever not a techie. I was the only one of my friends to have a laptop computer in college, and I had to make it myself. So, okay, maybe I have always been a techie. But you don't have to have a degree in a technology field in order to learn and do web design.

In fact, I feel bad for the companies that list that as a requirement on their web design jobs. After all, they are losing out on the amazing self-taught, artistic liberal arts majors who also happen to know their way around a computer.

Any woman who wants to can get into tech. If you like building web pages, then build web pages. Don't let your lack of a technology degree stop you; use that to make the most amazing comparative literature pages you can make. Artists have a place in web design just as much as linguistics majors or computer science majors. If you love building the web, then there is a place for you here. And deciding once and for all what you’re going to be isn’t all that important either.

I’m not sure what I’m going to be when I grow up. But it will probably be related to the web. Besides, I think the journey is more fun.

I’ll let you know my answer when I get there. I still want to open a bookstore. Only I suspect it’ll be ebooks.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020