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The Power of Mentorship: ITM Student Siobhann Steindorf Finds Her Calling in Technology

Tiffany Stronghart March 11, 2024

Siobhann Steindorf, a student in the Master of Science: Information Technology Management program, has always had an affinity for technology. But it took a mentor to help her realize it. 

Siobhann got her bachelor’s degree in archaeology from UW-La Crosse. While she loved her college experience, she realized that being an archaeologist wasn’t the right fit for her. So, she took a job working at a call center, eventually becoming a collection supervisor–and the only woman on her team. One day, her manager asked her why she wasn’t working in IT.

Siobhann Steindorf headshot “Every time we’d get a new software, I would figure it out, and I’d become the subject matter expert. She said, ‘You need to be in IT. You’re so technical.’ I never saw that side of myself. She was an excellent mentor because I didn’t realize that I had that skillset.”

She ended up leaving the call center and became a data analyst at the Ho-Chunk Nation. Ho-Chunk then helped her earn a degree in software development and gave her opportunities to do programming while she worked as a data analyst. At the time, she was learning how to write code by watching YouTube videos. Her husband asked why she wasn’t going to school, so she approached her boss at Ho-Chunk, who encouraged her to go back. 

“I’m forever grateful for the tribe too because I don’t think I’d be where I am today without having that opportunity to have worked there. I worked in their education department, and they let me build their website. It was an amazing opportunity for me.”

After she graduated, she left her job at Ho-Chunk and moved into IT.

“I worked for a wealth management company, and I got promoted quickly because the other manager left. They moved me into the manager position. I guess I really never did what I went to school for [programming] because when you’re a manager it encompasses all those kinds of things. And now I work at DuraTech, a local print manufacturer in La Crosse. I’m an IS team leader there.”

 A self-described “forever student,” Siobhann always wanted to attend graduate school but didn’t have the money to enroll due to student loan debt. When she interviewed at DuraTech, they told her about their tuition reimbursement program. She began searching for online programs and found the UW Information Technology Management program. She applied in December 2022, and hopes to finish soon.

Siobhann’s  been able to directly apply what she’s learned in the program on the job, including agile project management.

“I think every semester I’ve learned something. [For project management, I was able to] apply it and start having my programmers follow that concept of tasking and due dates and giving deliverables to your clients.”

Working full-time and raising a family while going to graduate school is a challenge, but she manages by scheduling her time.

“I think just that balance of just understanding that it is a time commitment. But you just forgo some things, right? Sometimes people say, ‘Hey, do you want to go out?’ And I can’t. I’m in graduate school. It’s that balancing act.”

For her individual courses, Siobhann notes that there is a great deal of reading, so she’s employed several strategies to tackle the load.  

“If my kids have a doctor’s appointment, I would bring my textbook with me and I would read while I was there. Or just any time I had free time I would read a chapter. I had a plan. You schedule out that time to do it. And it is a commitment, but it’s possible.”

Siobhann loves information technology because she’s never bored. She’s a fast learner, and at past jobs, she usually reached a point where she had outgrown her roles relatively quickly but without an opportunity to move up.

“With IT, you can’t learn everything. When you’re in a technical field, you can’t possibly [know it all] because there are niches, like cybersecurity or data. That’s why I like it. Because I can try. It’s that excitement, where you can’t get bored. Whereas with some fields, there’s a limit to how far you can go. But with IT, the limits are endless because you just keep learning.”

Siobhann’s foray into technology was initiated by her mentor at the call center, emphasizing the importance of finding people to empower you throughout your career. Being a woman in a male-dominated field can be tough, especially when there aren’t many female mentors available, however, her current supervisor is female. 

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“She’s been amazing. She supports me. Having someone who has your back and is willing to go up to the other senior leadership members to get what we need is great. She’s done a lot to help me grow my team. But I think just in general, I’ve been used to working with men. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but you get used to it.”

She also worked as the only woman at her call center role, and was always feeling the need to prove herself. “I definitely had to prove to them that I was capable. I knew the switch had flipped when they started asking me for help. I’m like, oh, now I know what I’m doing. But it’s just kind of that thing of having to prove your value constantly I think has been a struggle.”

“If it comes out of a male voice, sometimes it’s just taken as fact. Whereas I have to prove what I’m saying,” she says. However, she noted not every situation is like that, but it does happen. 

Having multiple college degrees and working toward a master’s degree has helped her win over male colleagues. “I know I’m smart. I shouldn’t have to tell someone I have two degrees. But sometimes I think education is proof. Having that education does help, because it shows that you’ve worked, you’ve at least taken the classes and passed, and there’s at least some sort of knowledge or comprehension.”

For women needing support in male-dominated fields, Siobhann suggests finding a mentor.

“I think the one thing that’s helped me is to find someone who is in the position that you want, or in the position that you have that can be a person of support. Maybe a senior member who is female. I mean it technically could probably be male too, if they’re supportive. I’ve had many male managers throughout my life that have been. I’ve had great mentors that have been men who have pushed me and made me a better person, just because they saw something in me.”

She also thinks there should be more community mentorship programs, where women in the community can connect with others for support. 

“Every time I got a job, it’s someone who took a chance on me and I got lucky. And not everyone’s going to have that opportunity. But if you can network with people with similar interests, I think that is invaluable.”

Siobhann is still in contact with her classmates from her software programming degree, even though she graduated six years ago. She’s friends with them on Facebook and on LinkedIn, and is still in touch with her instructors. She’s also been able to connect with students in her ITM program during group projects.

“It’s just making those connections with people. Because then you can find a mentor maybe in those people too.”

To get more women in STEM, Siobhann says representation is key.

“If you look at an article about somebody, it’s a man. Or you look at a tech article, it’s a man.” She mentioned a recent situation in her class in which a woman was interviewed about cloud computing who was a director of IT. “They exist; the unicorns are out there. But we don’t see them. 

“Showing that there’s representation in the field, then girls or people in college can look up and say, oh yeah, there are women here. I think that being in technology just in general for me has been a wonderful experience. I’m not trying to be negative about my experiences as a woman. But we need to have those open conversations about things that are still a problem. We still have to bring these issues to the forefront because they’re not going to change unless people know. They also need to know that there are those of us out there in IT who are female and are thriving.

“Ever since I’ve been a manager, I’ve had to prove my value. And I don’t think we should have to continue to do that. But I think the only way we can is to educate and get more women in the field. Because I think the more women succeed in it, the more women are going to join. There are way more female programmers now than even a few years ago, or even gamers. I’m a gamer, and when I was in college, I was online gaming all the time. And I would never talk to another girl, right? It was all men. I think eventually those floodgates are going to open and it’s going to happen. But I think just continuing down this path and getting girls involved in STEM is great.”

Do you enjoy working with technology and want to advance your career? Learn more about the 100 percent online UW Master of Science in IT Management by exploring the program’s curriculum or contacting an enrollment adviser. For more information, call 608-800-6762 or email

Programs: IT Management