It seems like just yesterday that I decided to go to school for Computer Science. But now it has been 2.5 years that I've been working as a Software Engineer for Fidelity Investments. I am very passionate about diversity in tech, especially about women in tech and women of color in tech. I have had many bittersweet experiences in my short journey, but at the end of the day it has been more than worth it.
Here are the 5 most important lessons I've learned as a new Techie.
Be comfortable being the only female voice in the room
Most of the teams I've worked on I've been the only female developer. It's definitely a challenge. It's easy to get intimidated when you look around and there is no one like you (meaning another female). I quickly learned that it's not a big deal. I am an equal part of the team and I have a different perspective that I can offer. Instead of letting the uniqueness stand in my way I learned to be comfortable with it. I read a fun book a few months ago by Sarah Cooper "How to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women". Although it was meant to be humorous it did teach me some important aspects of female leadership and how to approach certain situations. I highly recommend reading the book 😉
Be bold, be heard
As a woman in tech one challenge most of us will face or has faced is being taken seriously. Since I don't look like a 'traditional' engineer it's hard for people to accept what I have to say. It's very frustrating but unfortunately its still the norm. I've learned some techniques to overcome this. Learn to be bold. Don't make yourself small to make others comfortable around you. You have worked hard to be where you are and you deserve to be heard. Speak up, and if they haven't heard you repeat what you said (a little louder if needed).
Don't be scared to speak your mind
Voice your thoughts. Remember, you are valuable and you know what you're talking about. Don't overthink while sharing your opinion. I suffer a lot with the infamous imposter syndrome. I used to be so scared that I would be wrong that I wouldn't speak in meetings or share my thoughts. I was lucky to be in an environment where I was made to feel valued and important, and I quickly learned that engineering is all about figuring things out as we go. I can't be scared to be wrong, because 9/10 times I have ideas that are valuable.
Find communities of like minded people
Since there are only so many female engineers you will encounter at your job, it is important to find communities of people who are like you. When you do, you will find that sense of belonging. Find a mentor who you trust and admire. This person can help you overcome many of the challenges you will face.
Keep learning and teaching
I think this is more generic for everyone in tech. We need to constantly learn to stay relevant. And the best way of learning is teaching. I always make an effort to teach and help out other females in tech. If we are supporting each other and helping each other grow, who can really stop us?
If you are a queen in tech, help your sisters out! Make an effort to encourage more females to come into the tech industry. Technology needs more people who look like you and me. Cheers! ❤️