After discovering that she had a natural ability to code in junior high–“I enjoyed being able to manipulate programs and create things that weren’t there”–McTigrit, who was not allowed to have real pets as a child, began messing around with the programming of the Petz video game series when she was in sixth grade.
“There was a community of us who realized we could used something called a HexEditor, which allows you to open up the program file and manipulate it,” McTigrit said. “What we realized was that we could change values in there. And by changing these values, we could take a chihuahua and we could turn it into a poodle. Or we could take a ball in the program and we could turn it into a bone. And so, it was an online community and people still do it to this day.”
This childhood hobby would eventually become a lifelong practice. McTigrit programmed websites for small businesses throughout high school and college, where she majored in finance after being met with hostility in her computer sciences classes. “I actually had a female professor, when I walked into a Java 101 class, ask me if I was in the right classroom,” McTigrit said.
Following college, McTigrit worked in the oil and gas industry and eventually got into development professionally. Now she’s an associate developer at ShipStation and on the organizing team of Austin’s branch of Women Who Code (WWC).
WWC is a national non-profit organization “dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers,” according to their official website. McTigrit emphasized that it is an organization open to all women who work or are interested in coding, no matter their skill level.