Jumpstart Your Career in Tech
Last week we hosted an event with our partners at Microsoft, Jumpstart Your Career in Tech. It was an evening of networking and an informative panel discussion about the importance of elevating women & non-binary people in the tech industry.
Our panelists stemmed from some of the leading tech companies in NYC, representing various tech roles including design, product, and engineering. They shared their career journeys, advice on how to stand out during the interview process and once you get the job, and much more. Meet our panelists:
Moderated by Nissa Booker is the VP of Talent at Moda Operandi. She previously spent time at various tech companies including Buzzfeed, Vimeo, and AOL.
Melody Koh works in venture capital as (the only female) Partner at NextView Ventures. She was previously the first Product hire at Blue Apron, as Head of Product, when they were only 18 months old.
Mackenzie Clark is a Senior Software Engineer at Squarespace. Before that, she spent time as an engineer at Class Pass and Vimeo.
Tasha Lufti is the Principal Design Director at Microsoft, working on Outlook. She’s spent 10 years at Microsoft in various roles and has also co-founded Womxn in Design at Microsoft
Here are a few key learnings from the night:
Overcoming being “the only”
As an engineer, Mackenzie shared her experiences of being “the only,” i.e. being the only woman in the room – always. She said it wasn’t until she joined Squarespace, that she had fellow women on her team. How do you combat this? Create a support network for yourself, whether that be sponsors or allies – find people who will speak up for you so you don’t always have to be the one speaking up for yourself.
Take the seat in the middle of the room
When you walk into a meeting, where do you sit? Do you sit at the end because you don’t want to take up space? Do you even sit at the table? Well, Melody shared some of her best advice for success: “Grab a seat in the middle of the room because you don’t want to automatically marginalize yourself.” The middle seat has the best view, and it allows you to be seen. You have just as much of a right to be there as others if you were invited to the meeting! And to echo what Tasha said, “Know your value. That’s why you’re there!”
Don’t always wait for a yes
If you have a great idea for a new project or a new direction…go for it! Put in the work, and show why your idea is great. When you wait for permission, you could be selling the idea or yourself short. Especially as a designer, Tasha shared how important it is to bring her work to life first, to show, not tell. She said, “Don’t wait for a yes. People who are not visionaries will not see a vision until they can actually see it.”
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