A passion for technology grows into an inspirational career.

Find out how Chris Snipe, a self-proclaimed unicorn, forged a fierce programming path as a Black woman with education, perseverance, and Claris FileMaker as her stepping-stones.

Programming skills are anything but basic.

Chris Snipe fell in love with programming and technology at a young age, spurred on by an important influencer — her mom. Introduced to electronic toys as a toddler, her exploration morphed into repairing everyday household items, taking apart the VCR, for example, to solder and fix loose wires. This was followed by a passion for gaming, an avid player on Commodore and Atari consoles, leading Chris to envision a career as a video game developer.

“I was coding in BASIC when I was 11-years old, playing around with fun programs to guess family member’s birthdays. I’m a geek and a go-getter, named valedictorian of my eighth-grade class, and proud of it,” says Chris.

Project ACHIEVE recruits a high achiever.

With off-the-chart standardized test scores in high school, Project ACHIEVE, a national educational organization, wanted to solidify Chris’ route to higher education. She was recruited by the University of Iowa, offered a full-ride scholarship at only 15-years old.

“The summers of my high school sophomore and junior years, I spent six weeks on the campus of the University of Iowa learning calculus and taking college prep courses — not exactly how my peers were spending their summer vacations. Then, after graduation, I was off to Iowa to major in computer science,” adds Chris.

Technology passion lost, then found.

Chris earned a BS in computer science but lost her fervor for technology along the way. Uninspired by the university’s programming classes, which were heavily focused on Java, she decided not to pursue a career in video game programming and headed back to Chicago to work for her father’s restaurant. But a food-focused profession wasn’t in the cards. Chris was soon recruited by Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University, promised hands-on coding experience, resulting in a master’s degree in business information systems and newfound passion for the programming field.

An intentional name change.

Early in her career, Chris shortened her name from Chrishawna. She figured using a gender-neutral name would make herself more marketable and open doors to prove herself as a skilled programmer.

“Based on my resume, I’m fairly certain when I showed up for my interview at Chicago Public Schools, my future supervisor was expecting a man. People don’t often expect to see a Black woman with my technical skills walk through the door. I like surprising people, acing proficiency tests to confirm my deep development knowledge, and knocking down barriers along the way,” says Chris.

Claris FileMaker, the best thing since sliced bread.

Hired as a data analyst at Chicago Public Schools, Chris was eager to revamp antiquated, paper-based processes and improve the organization’s data workflow. She was introduced to the in-house program developer, who Chris dubbed her “shero” for recognizing her eagerness and intelligence.

Chris explains, “This woman introduced me to FileMaker, and I quickly realized it was the best thing since sliced bread because it saved so much time and eliminated paper processes. With FileMaker, I was off and running writing scripts and running reports, totally revamping the schools’ application process.”

A unicorn of sorts.

Successfully navigating a male-dominated industry, Chris feels like a unicorn as a Black woman in the field, regularly asked to speak to young girls about her experiences. She encourages students to think beyond majors traditionally recommended to woman, such as journalism or psychology, and pursue degrees in computer science or other information technology (IT) majors.

“My message to young women is to embrace the field, then go after as many IT certifications as possible. Build an iron-clad resume and there’s no reason an organization wouldn’t hire you,” says Chris with a laugh.

Be true to yourself.

Chris honed her low-code skills on the job and took advantage of online tutorials to accelerate her database development know-how, giving her the confidence and experience to take a leap of faith and start her own side-hustle business — Hats of all Trades.

“I honestly believe with Claris FileMaker in my toolkit, I’m an asset to any organization. As a woman, if you stay true to yourself, invest heavily in your technology skills, and confidently present your capabilities to an organization, you’ll be the best thing to ever happen to the company that hires you. I guarantee it,” ends Chris.

Are you looking for a mentor or interested in networking with a group of women who use Claris FileMaker in their careers? If so, check out Women Innovating Together – FileMaker (WITfm).

And if Chris has inspired you to accelerate your tech career as she did, check out the various FileMaker online tutorials.