I'm looking for advice on how to take this step to ease my transition from a non-profit and educational organization to a tech company. What are the best practices, what to look for or avoid? Ideas on where to find mentors (I made a few semi-blind LinkedIn connections). I've started applying for opportunities and will be looking for experience as well as experience, but I find first-hand advice really invaluable.
— Gabriel Hodgson, Creative Director, via email.
Looking at my career path, it was not a straight and easy path. I tried many tasks that masked my actual code call while going through the maze. There have been many epic failures that have disappointed me, but there have been a few key moments that have led me to the tech roles I love and ultimately to where I am today as a VP at Forbes. I tried my hand at waitressing, bartending, janitor, administrative assistant, video store clerk, graphic designer, lifeguard, and swimming instructor before finding the tech roles I loved. Navigation is never perfect, and you should expect to make some mistakes along the way.
At first glance, this seems like a complicated and very specific question, but it can become something we can all relate to: How do I get to where I want to be? There are obvious answers, such as gaining experience through training and certification, but networking has proven to be the most valuable to me, although the method may vary depending on where you are in your career.
If you're just starting out as a professional or working on a career change but haven't gotten your foot in the door yet, look for connections through social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. It's a good idea to reach out to individuals as well as companies and organizations you think are leaders in the industry. Look for unicorns that celebrate the combination of your field and something that makes you unique. Women in Technology (WIT) is a role model for me as someone who identifies women in technology. Look a little and you will find your place. If you get stuck, you can always text your favorite tech girl.
Find new or internship opportunities to apply for. Do your homework and find out who the hiring manager or recruiter is and if possible write directly to express your interest. It works, and to prove it, I've listed several new engineering candidates who contacted me on LinkedIn in the past few weeks and are now available for interviews. Hiring managers won't scold you for contacting them, and if they do, you probably won't want to work for them. So don't hesitate.
Another advantage you can take advantage of is mentoring programs. Last week, I saw a mention on Twitter of the Mentor-Protégé program for Girls in Technology (GIT) and applied to be a mentor. Find relevant organizations that offer professional support and ask for one-to-one parenting support
If you're already in the game, I can't stress enough how important it is to continually build your network. Schedule one-on-one meetings with colleagues and managers to simply introduce yourself and check in regularly. Don't miss the opportunity to ask questions or express your opinion in individual and group sessions. I often see radio silence when calls come in with questions, and it's definitely a wasted moment when it's not used to introduce everyone. You don't get these opportunities often, so when you do, use them to set yourself apart.
Position yourself as a problem solver by bringing ideas for improvement to the supervisory conversation. By scheduling time with the people you work with in advance, you'll not only build strong professional relationships, but if you find ways to improve operations as part of those conversations, you'll spread positive buzz and become an unstoppable force.
If you've been in the game long enough to be considered an expert, your networking strategy needs to evolve to establish yourself as an expert. Find and volunteer for panel and moderator opportunities at conferences and training events. The more you speak in public and interact in a group setting, the more you will build your brand. Last month, I had the honor of moderating the Women in Technology panel at the 2022 Jamof Nation User Conference (JNUC). I collaborated with amazing colleagues and peers that I would never have met without my presence. You probably need a break anyway.
As a seasoned professional, the most important thing for you is to set an example and train your youth. Buy as many guilds as you can. Participate in mentoring programs organized by Girls in Technology (GIT), such as the Mentor-Protégé program mentioned above. Be willing and eager to share your knowledge.
It is our duty to teach the next generation to take the reins of power. If we don't… who will?
Have a question or task you'd like answered in the next article? Email [email protected] . And you can read the previous column Girl to Girl Crime at Work .
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