Karrin Ridley was at her old job, working with insurance billing at a doctor’s office in South Pittsburg, Tennessee when she received a message from her husband. He sent her a job posting from Google. They needed employees for the new data center they would be opening in Bridgeport. It was the perfect opportunity.
“The more I heard about [the data center being built here] and began to see that it was true, the more I hoped and dreamed of one day working here,” said Ridley. “I had pretty much come to the conclusion that if I wanted to work in tech, I would have to commute a couple of hours to and from work each day. That wasn’t ideal for me since I still had kids in school at the time.”
After graduating high school, Ridley served in the Navy from 1992 to 1994. She utilized an officer training/scholarship program they had at the time to pay for four years of college. After that, she enrolled at Memphis State University in a nursing program.
“That didn’t exactly work out for me, I learned really quick that nursing was not for me,” Ridley said.
Ridley then returned home and began work at the utilities department in Stevenson. A few years later, she enrolled in college once again, this time at Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) where she decided to major in accounting.
While she was a student at NACC, after classes she stopped by then-President Charles Pendley’s office to say hello. During their conversation, he had brought up computer science being an option for her since Ridley enjoyed math, an option she had never considered given her lack of experience with them. The next semester, she enrolled in an intro to computers class, which sparked her interest in working with computers for a living.
“I enjoyed the class, I understood everything, it all came naturally to me and it just clicked. I didn’t have a personal computer at the time, but we had some computers at work that I played with and learned on,” said Ridley. “I ended up changing my major to Computer Science and I completed an associate in applied science degree from Northeast in 2003.”
After completing her degree, Ridley kept her eye out for any tech related jobs but, at the time, couldn’t find a job nearby. Afterwards, she decided to go back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science. After starting back at NACC to finish up a couple of required classes before transferring to Athens State University. Ridley earned her degree in 2012.
“It took a while to complete my degree since I then had a family and a full-time job in addition to the schoolwork,” she said. “It was difficult, but I just stayed focused on my goal and I made it happen. I spent many hours studying while my kids were at ball or cheer practices or at gymnastics, late nights after my family went to bed and on many weekends.”
After getting her bachelor’s degree, she kept her eyes out for a tech job but couldn’t find one until her husband alerted her about the Google data center being built in Bridgeport. After hearing about it, she applied for the job immediately. On top of her job in the doctor’s office, she’s also a Zumba Instructor, a job she still does to this day.
“I had to write up a resume and sent it in, I was excited about it, that there was a job posted that I felt like I qualified for, so I sent it right away and then it was kind of a let-down because it was like a few months before I heard from a recruiter,” said Ridley. “I just kind of forgot about it or it was in the back of my mind and I didn’t think about it very much until the day I got an email back from the recruiter. I was very excited when I got the email from the recruiter to start the interview process.”
Ridley eventually got the job and started work as a data center technician as well as working a rotation with a software engineering group. From accepting the fact that she would need to travel a couple of hours for a tech job, she now has only a seven-minute drive from her home to work.
From the Navy, Stevenson Utilities Department, the doctor’s office and still teaching Zumba three days a week, Ridley is now working a dream job at Google and hopes to keep it that way.
“If you’re in the tech industry, I don’t know a better place to work than Google,” Ridley said.