Charli Deville is Montreal’s Premier Deadbeat Daddy, a world class performer and pioneer in the drag king scene, but by day they’re a front end web developer. In November, they were gracious enough to sit down with us and talk about how they balance these two roles, and how one even provides them with the confidence to succeed in the other.
Growing up in Manitoba at a time before our vocabulary included the language we currently use to describe the trans and nonbinary experience, Charli settled with the identity of “tomboy.” It wasn’t until after they moved to Montreal that they began to feel comfortable redefining who they were personally, which ended up helping them professionally as well.
A new life in a new community
After receiving a degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg, Charli came to Montreal to work as a graphic designer but they found that the work wasn’t as stable as they would have liked. They also realized that there was one skill that seemed to make an employee indispensable–coding. Charli was quick to act on this realization and enrolled for a three month long coding bootcamp, which they say helped them find a more secure job with twice the salary!
Coding can seem like a difficult thing to get started in, and even Charli says that they felt like they were “too dumb” to figure it out at first. In fact, when they got their new job so quickly after bootcamp, they started to struggle with imposter syndrome. They didn’t feel qualified for the job, and even thought someone had made a mistake in hiring them, a feeling many of us are probably familiar with.
How did they cope with this struggle to feel qualified? According to Charli, performing in drag has helped them improve their confidence. Their performances helped them connect with the queer community, where they were understood and supported. In this supportive space, Charli’s differences were celebrated rather than hidden, and unfortunately they have been all too familiar with the feeling that they need to hide.
Hiding in the workplace
After being fired from their last job for personal reasons, Charli found themself holding back at their new workplace. They felt like they couldn’t be their authentic self if they wanted to have a steady job, so they kept it a secret. They even wore a special shirt to the interview that helped them “femme it up” and put potential employers at ease.
When they needed to take a month off work to recover from a gender reaffirming surgery, they needed to let their predominantly cis-male coworkers in on at least part of their identity and was relieved to find that they were surprisingly surpportive. Looking back, Charli wishes they were more open at this job from the start because now they see their queer identity as a commodity rather than a hinderance.
A brighter, prouder future
According to Charli, many tech companies are at the front of the pack when it comes to creating inclusive hiring policies. They suggest that when a queer person goes to interview for a tech company it’s better not to hide who they are because their identities should be seen as valuable resources to the companies who want to hire us.
If you’ve been inspired by Charli’s story to pursue a new life in tech, you’re in luck! There are plenty of resources out there to help. From free resources that will allow you to explore coding to see if it’s something you’re interested in, to more in depth bootcamps like the one Charli took part in or those ones offered by Autodesk. Of course, if you’re just looking for a new job where you can be open about your identity like Charli, make sure you come to our Qareers Virtual Job Fair on April 8 for your opportunity to meet with recruiters from companies we know and trust