Ashley Zegiestowsky felt like she had the world at her feet when she graduated from Butler University this spring. Nashville born and raised, she always assumed she would go back home, and the last thing she expected was to stay in Indianapolis.

Now she’s doing precisely what she thought she never would — living in Indy, working as a software engineer and loving it! Since graduation, Ashley has gone on to accept a full-time job as part of the first-ever IndyX Tech Fellowship class working at BidPal, but it wasn’t exactly a straight path to get there.

Growing up, Ashley loved gymnastics and dance, and when she got a little older, she knew she wanted to major in Spanish. Ashley said, “I never envisioned myself becoming a software engineer.”  She was determined to branch out and leave Tennessee when it came time for college and love for dance is what initially drew her to Butler.

“When it came to school, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to end up. I knew Spanish was going to be one of my majors, but I wanted to do something else too,” Ashley said, “So I took classes in economics and international studies. I even thought about pursuing writing, but none of them were the right fit.”

Ashley always loved math and set on a path to become a math major, but fate intervened. Butler math majors are required to take an introduction to computer science class, and it was there she realized she had found her calling. Computer Science was something entirely new to Ashley. She loved not only the challenge of an unfamiliar subject, but the perfect blend of math, logic, and creativity it provided.

Ashley’s newfound interest in computer science led to two different software development internships back  in Nashville. One even offered her a full time job upon graduation, but she was still conflicted about where she wanted to live. It was around that time that she heard about TechPoint’s IndyX Tech Fellowship.

“The IndyX Tech Fellowship felt like more of an opportunity than just a job offer. The program offers community, opportunities and resources that I could use and build upon,” said Ashley.

The IndyX Tech Fellowship is a two year program for recent grads to get connected with developers, designers, and product managers in leading companies where they can hone their skills, fast-track their careers, and impact the Indy community.

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(Left to right) Ashley, Gayle Ocampo, and Kate Harrison show their IndyX Tech Fellowship pride at the 2016 TechPoint Mira Awards in April.

“The Fellowship is why I stayed here,” said Ashley. After getting accepted into the program, everything fell into place. The Fellowship connected Ashley with BidPal, and she recently began her first professional position as an associate software engineer.

I interviewed her on her sixth day working at the company, but she could already tell that BidPal was going to be different. Ashley enjoys the smaller company culture compared to the large corporations where she did her internships, and expressed her excitement to have more input on what she was working on. She loves the idea of being “More hands on and doing a bunch of different things versus just one specific field of work, and not just sitting and coding at your computer.”

The Fellowship initially provided a compelling reason to stay, but Ashley is grateful for the chance to make a difference in the community, too. “The fact that we have access to so many parts of the tech community makes me feel like I will be much more involved in the community around me since I’m in the Fellowship rather than if I was on my own in Nashville just working a job in a company”

Ashley is eager to be an active member of the Indy tech community and says attending the Mira Awards this year really opened her eyes to the possibilities. She always knew that the Indy tech community was growing and a great place for startups and scale-ups to thrive. When the Fellowship invited her to the Mira Awards, she gained a completely new perspective. “It was cool because I have never been to an event like that before. I got to see the tech community in action and everything they’ve been doing the past year and all they’ve accomplished.”

Ashley has much to be proud of in a great start to a promising career. She explains that as the oldest sibling, she always feels the need to exceed expectations and then some, “I can’t not do something to the best of my ability.” Ashley’s biggest advice for herself and others? “Always keep learning and keep bettering yourself.”