In 2020 the SWITCH SEA project launched with four economies. The project aimed to support the career development goals of women and gender diverse people working in the technical sector.
In 2022, SWITCH SEA wrapped up, and the Switch! project took its place. Switch! expanded to two additional economies, including Timor Leste. In addition, the Switch! project held annual National Events in which the participants from that economy could network and share knowledge.
Dircia Maria Jesus da Silva Almeida:
“As a working woman, I frequently encounter challenges in managing my time effectively so that I can maintain a healthy work-life balance, for instance, I have been making every effort to seize opportunities offered by Switch! including online courses with certificates during my year in the project.”
– Dircia Maria Jesus da Silva Almeida, 2023 Switch! participant
A big career shift
My journey with the APNIC Timor-Leste team began when a colleague shared a link to sign up for the Switch! project.
I spent 11 years working for Timor-Telecom (TT) in the area of Mobile Access Network Planning and Optimization before I joined the Switch! project. In 2022, I started working for TIC TIMOR I.P (a public institution) as a Network and Data Center Planning assistant in 2022.
I worked as an engineer at TT to configure 2G, 3G, and 4G Internet connections as part of my main responsibilities. But when I changed to TIC TIMOR I.P. my role became entirely different. On the new role, I found myself designing the connection topology of FO (Fiber Optic) and LAN (Local Area Network) projects, conducting site surveys, preparing technical solution proposals and Bills of Quantities, and finally preparing presentations on TIC TIMOR I.P.’s key roles to present to other government institutions.
Additionally, I provide support and services in the Networking area such as configuring switches and routers for the Dili backbone network project of TIC TIMOR I.P.
The Switch! project has offered me advantages by building my capacity in a number of IT-related fields and has positively impacted the development of my professional career.
Building skills through courses and mentoring
As a working woman, I frequently encounter challenges in managing my time effectively so that I can maintain a healthy work-life balance, for instance, I have been making every effort to seize opportunities offered by Switch! including online courses with certificates during my year in the project. These included:
- Cyber Security Fundamentals
- Computer Networking- Digital Network Security
- Linux Network Administrator,
- Cisco Networking Academy- Networking Basics
- ISACA Conference Asia 2022 Virtual Workshop: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Fundamentals
In addition, I received coaching from Mrs. Graciela Selaiman in both Public Speaking (PS) and Mental Health (MH). During the PS coaching, participants were split into a number of groups, each with four participants. Through this coaching, I gained knowledge on how to develop a presentation with more confidence. And during MH coaching, we were encouraged to discuss our professional experiences with MH-related issues, including any challenges we had faced. After that, Mrs. Graciela Selaiman helped us in finding solutions to these challenges. Her methods actually help us in overcoming current challenges and we can apply them in our day-to-day work.
The 3-month level-1 (pre-Intermediate1) face-to-face English course at LELI was another course offered by the Switch! project. This course helped me get better at writing, listening, and spelling in English. I anticipate this course will be offered at a higher level the following year.
How fortunate I am to be a part of the APNIC Foundation-funded SWITCH project. Being a member makes me proud.
Project participants are encouraged to share stories of their progress. This account has been lightly edited.