I graduated with humanities degrees, but work experience through college as a web designer and marketing coordinator led me to my first job out of college – in an engineering team of a venture-backed startup in Palo Alto. I found that being the only woman in a team of a dozen guys isolating, and learned to go to meetups to learn about entrepreneurship and starting up. I asked why there were not more women starting high-growth high-tech companies, and was connected with my fellow co-founders in 2005 of what became Women 2.0, a media company supporting female entrepreneurs. I also started Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners in 2008, to network women in technology. Today, we’ve hosted over 100 girl geek dinners. Fast forward to today, where I’ve channeled my passion for getting more women into engineering at Hackbright Academy.
I believe in disseminating information as we learn it – to spare other people time, energy and pain in the process of new journeys in entrepreneurship, business, technology, etc.
“People tend to doubt their own ability to stick to the tedious trial-and-error part of creative work, suggests a large new study from Northwestern University, published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” writes Melissa Dahl on Science of Us. Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/great-newsscience-says-you-have-way-more-potential-than-you-even-realize
“People tend to doubt their own ability to stick to the tedious trial-and-error part of creative work, suggests a large new study from Northwestern University, published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” writes Melissa Dahl on Science of Us. https://www.themuse.com/advice/great-newsscience-says-you-have-way-more-potential-than-you-even-realize
Teaching a Growth Mindset: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/mindset/
Similar to the entrepreneur’s trough of sorrow, a job search will be an indefinite time of sorrow until you learn the right combination of skills, tactics, the right resume to the right company at the right time.
Psychologist Carol Dweck teaches the Growth Mindset – where ability is developed, one embraces challenges (instead of avoiding them), persists in obstacles (versus giving up), sees effort as necessary (versus seeing effort as fruitless), learns from criticism (versus ignoring useful criticism), and is inspired by others’ success (versus being threatened by others).
How can you reframe what you say to yourself to maintain a growth mindset? Instead of “I’m not good at this”, try thinking “What am I missing?” Instead of “I am awesome at this”, say “ I am on the right track.” Instead of giving up, think to use some of the strategies learned. Instead of saying something is too hard, say “this may take some time and effort.” And so on and so forth.
I heard this expression when I was living in Palo Alto about the students at Stanford. Everyone is like a duck in the pond. Everyone looks cool and unruffled, floating around successfully. But under that water, all those ducks are paddling furiously. Don’t judge and anticipate that someone is simply smarter or had 10+ years of experience than you. This may be true, this may not be true. Many people who are successful worked hard – very very hard. Do not underestimate how much hard work went into that other person’s seemingly “easy” success or win. Everyone works hard. We just don’t always look ruffled on the surface level.
Everyone, from the people who do have advanced degrees in engineering, to the new junior engineers feel absolutely lost for the first year on the job. Engineering managers and executives feel lost the first 3 to 6 to 12 months on a new job. You will too as an entry-level software engineer. This feeling of panic and uncertainty never goes away, even for people viewed as experienced.
Imposter syndrome is real. Work hard and know your stuff. And if you need a pep talk, read the last chapter in Mindy Kaling’s book “Why Not Me?” Or just search for “Mindy Kaling's Guide to Killer Confidence” – it’s posted online at Glamour.com (source: http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2015/08/mindy-kaling-guide-to-killer-confidence)
Read Kat King’s story on imposter syndrome and saying yes even before you think you are ready (source: https://hackbrightacademy.com/blog/impostor-syndrome-saying-yes/)
Photo credit: Rachel Thomas, Hackbright instructor took a picture of Hackbright alumna Heather Bryant giving a talk at San Francisco Python Meetup on December 2, 2015 (source: https://twitter.com/math_rachel/status/672260524902506497)
HOW TO ASK FOR
WHAT YOU WANT & NEED
VP PARTNERSHIPS & MENTORSHIP
DISCLAIMER: MY STARTING POINTS
• As an entrepreneur who had to make her own networks,
my views are colored by the lens of entrepreneurship.
• Say yes and figure it out later (e.g. mentoring, tech talks).
• It’s not inherent smartness, it’s how long you’re in the game,
how you communicate, and how coachable you are.
Started Women 2.0 with co-founders in 2006.
(pic: 2007, Women 2.0 Conference @ CNET)
Started Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners
(pic: 2008, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner @ Google)
Started at Hackbright Academy in 2012.
(pic: 2014, Zoe Kay working at New Relic)
• The job search requires entrepreneurial thinking.
• 99% of creativity is perspiration (trial-and-error).
• You are more creative than you think! (source: @EntryLevelRebel)
Great News—Science Says You Have
Way More Potential Than You Even Realize
Similarities b/w entrepreneurship and a job search:
• Requires a strong BELIEF that
YOU will succeed.
• Optimism required.
• Because if not you, who?
• Similar to being an entrepreneur,
you are your biggest advocate.
• Requires a GROWTH MINDSET.
• Rejection and setbacks are
inevitable. Iterate and learn.
You are more persuasive than you think, and you have to believe
you will succeed. Optimism required. You need a Growth mindset.
Rejection and setbacks are inevitable.
WHAT CAN WE SAY TO OURSELVES TO
REFRAME THE SITUATION?
I’m not good at this. What am I missing?
I’m awesome at this. I’m on the right track.
I give up. I’ll use some of the strategies we’ve learned.
This is too hard. This may take some time and effort.
I can’t make this any better. I can always improve, so I’ll keep on trying.
I just can’t do maths. I’m going to train my brain in maths.
I made a mistake. Mistakes help me learn better.
She’s so smart. I’ll never be that smart. I’m going to figure out how she does it so
I can try it.
Plan A didn’t work. Good thing the alphabet has 25 more letters.
It’s good enough. Is this really my best work?
Instead of: Try:
Everything is exercise & practice – we’ll get it in time!
LIKE DUCKS IN A POND…
Everyone, from the people who do have
advanced degrees in engineering, to the new
junior engineers, feel absolutely lost for
the first year on the job.
LIKE DUCKS IN A POND…
Imposter syndrome is real. Work hard and know
your stuff. And if you need a pep talk, read the
last chapter in Mindy Kaling’s book
“Why Not Me?”
Or just search for “Mindy Kaling's Guide to Killer
Confidence” – it’s posted online at Glamour.com
THE ART OF ASKING FOR
WHAT YOU WANT
If you try to take a brute force approach,
you run the risk of burning out.
What you instead want is to develop a feedback mechanism
where you learn from each conversation and refine your pitch.
You will get better, it takes practice!
Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer and Mint.com’s
first female engineer frequently speaks on this and how to
become a public speaker.
TELL YOUR STORY
Your pitch or “story” will develop the more times you say it. Check
out Kat King’s blog post on “Imposter syndrome and saying yes”
WE ARE IN IT TO
WIN IT TOGETHER
Everything looks greener on
the other side of the fence.
Whether it’s the job that was accepted in 1 day, or the job from a
company with a brand name.
Make your situation work for you, and
be friendly with everyone because who
knows where everyone will be in
a year, 5 years, or 10 years, or more!
Feminist art via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com
READ “GETTING MORE”
BY STUART DIAMOND
A worthwhile read on asking for what
you want in work and life –
“A flexible toolkit for getting your way,
whether… a million-dollar deal,
a botched restaurant dish, or
a petulant 4-year-old.”
-- Psychology Today
Learn how to ask for, and get, more.
JOIN MAILING LISTS
Listen, lurk and occasionally chime in.
• Hackbright alumna, DevChix, PyLadies, R-Ladies, Systers,,,,
• What are some of your favorite lists?
• Female Founders Conference (3,600+ members)
• Women of Color in Tech - Bay Area (1,500+ members)
TOOLS TO FIND A JOB
Get ahead. Get a job. Be recognized
for your achievements!
• Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date with your latest projects,
that you are regularly committing to GitHub.
• Follow interesting developers/companies and tweet at them
(more on this later).
• If you have a spare weekend, try creating an online portfolio or
build a new project (then blog it, put it on LinkedIn, tweet it).
• The important thing is that you can be found online. Even if you
want to use a pseudonym, use all the social media tools to be
Go ahead, be inquisitive/curious! We learn with trial-and-error and
social media is no exception. See what tweets people respond to,
and learn to tweet at other developers and companies!
Practice thinking of a good question to ask, then ask it!
• Tweet at interesting people/companies you follow (e.g.
developers, mentors, tech reporters, “thought leaders”)
• Agree or disagree with something they tweeted.
• Provide additional comments or useful links.
• This gets you on their radar.
Blog? Try sharing something you once thought was hard, but now
explain it so someone else can get it. (Tools: Medium, WordPress)
Every technology or tech tool has a meetup on Meetup.com.
Find and join some meetups to be notified of future events!
Check out meetups in interesting new
technologies, attend some events, make friends,
hack on interesting projects, or start a new group!
Pictured: Sasha Laundy, who started Women Who
Code to meet other women learning to code!
What group/meetup can you start to meet your
own learning/engineering goals?
You can also search Eventbrite for meetups and hackathons!
Follow interesting topics in Meetup.com and go to networking
events to meet new people in your industry!
• San Francisco Python Meetup (pictured, above) is a good
place to start. Many women-focused groups also exist.
• If you are shy, encourage someone to go with you!
• Wear a statement item (ie. your Python shirt, 3-D printed LEGO
earrings) if you are nervous about conversation-starters.
• Break the ice! Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
• Don’t hesitate to let people know who you are and what you
are looking for. Give/take business cards. Connect with them
on LinkedIn later and/or email them your resume for referral.
GIVE A TECH TALK
Tech conferences and meetups are always looking for speakers.
“PyCon is the largest annual gathering for the Python community… a
volunteer-run, supportive, happy, diverse conference for people of all
programming backgrounds, from beginning to advanced Pythonistas and
for professional and hobbyist programmers alike. The conference has
tutorials, talks, poster sessions, development sprints, and more. A poster
can be on any topic! To get a sense of the breadth of topics accepted,
check out last year's posters. If you have something you want to share or
a discussion you want to start, go for it! Posters are low key, and a
particularly great way for first-time conference speakers to get their feet
wet.” – Jessica McKellar, PyCon co-organizer
Suggested action items:
• Grab a group of interested Pythonistas.
• Host a proposal-writing session or two.
• Keep each other accountable for submitting!
• Details: http://us.pycon.org/2016/speaking
Meetups often feel as intimidating as speaking at events.
You hear how a “warm lead” is ten billion times more valuable
than a cold email or clicking a “submit” button on a job platform.
A warm lead is simply another human being with a connection to
a company or job you are interested in.
• Have just met this person -- this is OK!
• Ask them to introduce you to someone who is hiring.
• Send your resume over. In a few days, ask them to check-in
on the status of your application if you can’t do it directly.
1. Have a goal: Is it to meet 1-3 people at an event? Is it to stay
for an hour? Have a goal when walking in the door.
2. Practice curiosity: Ask people questions about what they do,
their company, the engineering roles there, the tech stack…
3. Have a drink: Whether alcoholic or coffee, many people
have suggested having some liquid courage beforehand.
4. Early bird gets the worm: If you go to an event early, there are
fewer people so it's easier to talk - and it's probably quieter!
5. Stand by the food: Ask someone who joins you at the food
table what is good, have they been to this event before, how
did they hear about this event... to get the conversation
started and then ask what they do and where, etc.
NETWORKING TIPS (CONTINUED!)
6. Join a group of two: You don't have to force yourself into a
large group of strangers. Try joining a group of two.
7. Try to look friendly: Some have suggested wearing a
conversation-starter nerdy t-shirt. Things like a warm smile, a
firm handshake and a genuine curiosity in others really helps.
8. Figure out your 1-2 line answer to “what do you do?”:
Everyone always asks, so might as well prepare your lines. You
can even try different (truthful) answers to see which answer
piques the most interest with folks!
9. Network online and off: From mailing lists to Slack channels,
from in-person events to browsing LinkedIn, send a message
asking to grab an informational coffee with someone.
PRESENTATION LAYER: THE RESUME
The resume (and cover letter)
should be continually iterated
and updated. Ask for feedback
on how to tailor your resume for
the company/role if possible.
Check with Wendy and Ximena
(Hackbright Career Services!) for
best practices on resume and CL.
Also, the internet has templates.
HOW TO PROVE YOUR VALUE
Learn how to say that you are passionate, creative, responsible,
strategic – without using those exact words.
• Use examples by telling stories that use numbers and results.
• To get across that you’re responsible, give a
walk through of some of some times when you
went above and beyond to ensure the tasks
you were assigned were completed on time.
• Or to show your strategic thinking skills,
mention in concrete terms some of the
initiatives you started and what problems your
projects solved for your team or company.
Don’t hesitate to follow-up on
unanswered email every 3-5 days.
• “Let me know either way if…”
PRO-TIP: Use Boomerang in Gmail.
• Schedule follow-up emails
to be sent later (ie. 4-7 days later)
• Can be reoccurring and/or resend
if conditions aren’t met (ie. no reply)
• Use Hackbright’s Career Services team – Wendy Saccuzzo and
Ximena Cervantes – as a resource. They will send emails with useful
opportunities like new jobs, career resources & more!
• The Hackbright Career Services team is always here to help –
Don’t hesitate to reach out to request 30-60 minutes to talk
with Wendy or Ximena about YOU – to talk about your job
search and what your career goals are. Remember, they
know who’s hiring and can make warm intros to companies
about job openings!
• Follow Hackbright (@Hackbright) and
Daily Muse (@DailyMuse) for daily updates
on job searching – it’s a nice touch in your
Facebook newsfeed if you Like us on FB!
ALWAYS BE LEARNING!