Picture this: you walk into a meeting room, an office or a company and you are the only woman there.
This is the reality women now, the women before us and perhaps even the women still to come will experience. While it may be improving, the field of tech undoubtedly still has a long way to go. As women in technology we tend to underestimate our own skills and often need to be pushed to apply for positions that advance our careers. Looking back, when I applied for an IT specialist position at the age of 21 years old, I thought I didn't stand a chance - too young and inexperienced to even be considered. Even when I switched to another tech giant I wasn’t convinced I could ever be the perfect match for the job opportunity being offered to me. I had all these self doubts and yet I still succeeded in my applications and this is your sign that you too can further or begin your career in tech.
Insider tip: confidence plays a big part in the tech space. Having your capabilities confirmed by family, colleagues, partners and customers helped me to build my confidence up and put myself in spaces where I belonged.
If you believe in yourself and your interest in the tech industry is strong enough, then becoming a top female talent in tech is absolutely achievable. As a woman who’s been working in tech for 12 years, I’ve walked the talk. I had the courage to start out as an IT specialist without fulfilling the prerequisites for the role and grow into a career in multiple tech companies. If you’re ready to push yourself out of your comfort zone and build the foundations for a successful career in the tech industry, here are some tips to get you there:
step 1. know who you are and what you want
Begin by thinking about where you are now, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. It is important to know what you value, what your interests are, and the things you are good at and then develop into a role that fits that. Max Depree said it best:
“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
Being open to new things! Even if you have no experience, you will soon discover that there are even more things you are good at. This will allow you to explore your career and get to the point where you want to be. Apply for that job, even if you only meet 60% of the criteria. Every person should have the room to grow into a role and if you can convey that in your application, the recruiter will pick up on it. I had the vision to become one of the greatest IT project managers after my studies. Post bachelors, I spent time thinking about how I could get there and I knew that the easiest way would be to apply directly for this position and collect experience on the job. However, I then thought much more broadly and decided to do a deep tech job first, build up a good foundation and then develop into one of the best project managers in the field of IT. Besides that my thoughts were not only limited to becoming a great IT project manager, but with this option I could imagine performing any tech job in future. In fact I wasn’t even fulfilling 60% of the criteria when I was going in this direction, but I still conveyed that I could learn what I didn’t already know. The job was very challenging and there were many situations coming along my way that could have pushed me to choose the easiest path, but still I stuck to my vision.
step 2. never stop learning
“Develop a passion for learning.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Things move fast in the tech industry and change is happening all the time. In order to be successful in tech you need to be willing to learn continuously. One lesson that I have learnt is that when studying technology and working for tech giants such as IBM and SAP - you have to be curious to grow. We need to become comfortable that our knowledge will become obsolete within a few years. Working in tech means learning to extend yourself.
step 3. invest in networking and boost your visibility
“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.” - Christine Comaford-Lynch
Training alone is not enough. Being successful means to ask for advice from those who have more experience. In this case networking is truly your return on investment. It leads to better opportunities and will help you find personal growth. Networking creates more visibility for your skills and knowledge. Meeting professionals and sharing experiences is essential to being heard and seen.
step 4. frame of mind is crucial for success
“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey
We all have to work hard to succeed. You cannot get anywhere without working hard. It requires us to consistently work on ourselves to become a better version of ourselves. In this process you may fail at something, but failures are the best source for learning and collecting experience. If you wish to be successful, never lose hope and channel the power to stay strong. Small steps will help you accomplish all your goals by showing up and doing your best everyday at work. All that you do every single day is your personal investment in your career.
just do it
If you want to pursue a career in tech, I can advise you to just go for it. Tech is one of the fastest growing industries and is no longer limited to what we previously considered it to be. A career in tech can be anything from a digital project manager to a data scientist. Recognize you are talented, and you have your own unique skills to make an impact. A friendly reminder that family, friends and your network are your personal support system. The power of the people around you encourages you to strive to do better and positively influences you.
This was my experience and how I understood what I wanted and figured out a career in tech was for me. I want to inspire you that you can become anything you want to be and pursue the things that excite you the most. Try out new things, be open for change, accept challenges and have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish in the future.