A Rural Kentuckian's Guide To Getting Into Tech

Mallory Quisenberry

Mallory Quisenberry,

2021-12-16

Four years ago, if you told me I’d be doing marketing at a tech and entrepreneurship hub in the heart of Lexington, I wouldn’t have believed you. My name is Mallory and I’m an intern at Awesome Inc.

But wait, why would this be such a surprise? Well, I was raised on a small black angus cattle farm in Frankfort, Kentucky. The only establishment within a 10-mile radius was a BP gas station that also served as a liquor store, homemade biscuit joint, the place to pay your utilities, and the best year-round fireworks shop you could find. I’m thankful for my humble beginnings; they pushed me to become the hard-working, young professional I am today. 

I got my first taste of the importance of technology when my high school introduced us to Chromebooks at the start of Senior year. I realized that life was not going to run as smoothly if I didn’t start learning my way around tech. Good wifi is expensive and hard to find in rural Kentucky, so I had to check out portable hotspots from the school library or work at friends’ houses to earn my high school diploma.

I was unsure of my future; I wasn't even planning to go to college. But, at the last minute, I decided to attend the University of Kentucky and buy my first laptop; the same laptop I’m using to type this story. 

As a first-generation college student, I had my worries, but surprisingly, everything was going okay until my second day of classes. I had to submit a homework assignment as a PDF (a what?!). I searched the internet and it turns out PDF stands for Portable Document File, which didn’t really help me at all. So, unsure of what else to do, I went up to some guy sitting in the library and asked for help. That interaction was a turning point in my life. While I’m still not a tech genius by any means, that moment started me on a path to continue learning in the digital space. 

I tell you this story to demonstrate a classic (and cheesy) lesson: If I can do it, you can do it, and it might not be as dreadful as you think. 

Part of becoming a better person is learning through the growing pains. Here are a few tips for how I’ve eased into the digital world without any prior experience: 

Start Small 

You won’t understand technology overnight. Start by thinking about what you do know and what you would like to know. Don’t be afraid to use Google,Youtube, or a friend. There’s no shame in asking for help if you can’t figure something out.

Celebrate Small Victories

Whether you just learned what a PDF is or how to do a new keyboard shortcut, be proud of yourself! Many people see technology as common knowledge in our world, but for many of us, it’s not. Your small victories will add up and become something BIG!

Phone A Friend

Not being tech savvy can sometimes feel taboo, since it seems second nature to many of our peers. This is your reminder that it’s always a good idea to phone a friend! Never be ashamed to ask for help, especially if it’s in an attempt to learn something new. Friends are there to help you grow right? Most of the keyboard shortcuts I have learned were taught to me by friends who were willing to take the time to answer my tech-related questions. Core Value # 3 Be A Friend.

Join a Community Online

If you are struggling to find a good place to start or need some encouragement to keep going, look into joining an online community! If you are looking to find a community to connect with online that isn’t social media, try joining Reddit or Slack (there are many places to join online communities but the those are the two that helped me most).

Understand Tech is Meant to Make Your Life EASIER 

It might not feel this way at the beginning, but learning about technology is going to save you time and make your life easier. There’s a reason technology is the fastest growing industry in the world today. It allows us to accomplish more than we could have ever imagined. Make tech work with you and for you. 

This is my story. The story of a young woman from Kentucky who saw the way of the future and wanted to be a part of it. Live into your story and let the places you’ve been launch you to the places you’re going. If you want to grow your tech skills, I hope this can give you the first push. The rest is up to you, but I believe in you. And when you’re feeling a little lost, remember if I could find my way, so can you.