08.12.12 // Live Blog: Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted

Hey everyone. We are in Room 204 for Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted. Here is the description for this panel.

Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted – RM204
As professional women in technology, many of us are in positions we never knew existed when we
started working. Bridging the gap can be difficult if you don’t know where to start or where to go. Panelists
include engineers and a database administrator from Twitter, a network engineer from Wikimedia, CEO
and founder at Interface Guru, and a technical project manager at Arizona State University.
Presented by Lisa Phillips, Dana Contreras, Henna Kermani, Leslie Carr, Cia Romano, Nicole Phillips

The room is packed!

Lisa Phillips is introducing the panel: let’s talk about the technology jobs you do not often hear about in the media. The women on the panel have about 40 years in combined experience. One thing that unites these women: they all love their jobs. Lisa’s handle is @lisaphillips on Twitter.

Dana (@danadanger): Working as a programmer at Twitter, working on the infrastructure (the behind-the-scenes stuff). “We are like the Postal Service for your tweets.” <– Cute! Dana doesn’t have any formal training for tech at all; she is entirely self taught.

Henna: Software engineer at Twitter in international engineering (things that make Twitter work in other languages. Henna is the only one at this table with a computer science degree.

Leslie: Works for Wikimedia, the foundation for Wikipedia. She has also worked for Craigslist and Google.

Nicole: Went to Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in design studies. After graduating, Nicole started working in sales and technical support at GoDaddy. Moved up the ladder over four years, and now works as a business analyst at Arizona State.

QUESTION: Why computer and technology jobs? Why should women work in technology?

Answers:

Leslie – I get to have pink hair, and nobody bats an eye when I interview. One of the great things about tech jobs is that you get a lot of flexibility to work from home, or work ANYWHERE. “I can work a few days from Europe if I’m on vacation.” (That sounds like magic!).

Dana – Because technology companies are always working on leading-edge stuff and people are trying to come up with new ways to think about things, that applies to business environments as well and how businesses treat employees. At Twitter, we have an open vacation policy (Susie’s note: I know Netflix does this as well).

Lisa – I have worked for a San Francisco-based company for many years (I think I heard 12 years), but have only had to work in San Francisco for two of those years. Women aren’t having to choose between children and their jobs.

Leslie – Because Wikimedia is a nonprofit, we don’t feel pressure to work insane hours. If I say I have to get something done, I get it done … but my boss never pressures me to work until midnight. “I keep fixing things, so fewer things go wrong. And then when something does go wrong, it is a challenge and I find it exciting.” <– I paraphrased, but great quote.

QUESTION: Where do you learn to do the coding / technology skills on your own?

Answers:

Lisa – In the U.S. right now, only a few states allow computer science to count toward your graduation requirements in high school.

Henna – I had done no coding until college. I have always been interested in computers, but I was always more of a book nerd. I was always interested in learning what was going on behind the scenes with computers, and that’s why I chose a computer science program. I felt like I was competing with boys who had been coding since they were 4. But I found that other boys in my classes felt that way also, as some of these boys hadn’t been coding since birth.

Lisa – A network of smart people is key. People who excel in tech are able to be okay being around people who are smarter than them. I started at an ISP (several on the panel has ISP backgrounds). There, I was given the opportunity to learn from my peers and took advantage of every opportunity. Take on projects you didn’t think you could take on. Be okay with making mistakes.

Nicole – A study found that women tend to be over-mentored. It is important to draw distinction between someone who is a mentor for you, and someone who is an advocate. A mentor is focused on giving you advice; an advocate is someone who is going to go to bat for you at a particular organization.

Leslie – Tech support is a great place to start. You get to talk to a lot of parts of your organization. This gives you the opportunity to ask people if you can learn about their jobs. You learn, and then those people no longer have to do X task. A great tip!

Another great tip from Lisa: Don’t worry about not having the qualifications that match the job skill postings 100 percent. You do not have to match the requirements exactly. Don’t be scared by that! Send your resume in for jobs if you really want to work for the company. Highlight where your experience matches their company and the job posting.

(2:00 p.m. – This blogger has to run, but hope everyone enjoys the rest of the panel)

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