12 software engineers share nuggets of advice about job hunting, learning to code, hunting for your first development job and more.
By Angie Chang (VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy)
Here are the top 12 golden pieces of forward-thinking, action-oriented advice from female software engineers that have been shared on the Hackbright Academy blog this year:
1. How To Detect Female-Friendliness In A Company / Engineering Team
Thumbtack software engineer and Hackbright alumna Katie Thomas suggests five questions to ask an interviewer to detect how female-friendly a company or engineering team is. Asking “how do people ask questions” or “Are any engineers involved in programs aimed at supporting women in the industry? (e.g. PyLadies, Women Who Code, Hackbright, etc.)” will help you figure out if this workplace is right for you.
2. How To Not Suffer From Impostor Syndrome
Hackbright alumna and software engineer Gulnara Mirzakarimova shares five lessons on beating impostor syndrome. Our favorite is #5 – “Accept the fact that there are thing that you do not know, there are thing that you will never know and there are things that You Can Decide To Learn.”
Flixster software engineer and Hackbright alumna Aimee Morgan blogged about focus. She shares that “being a beginner at something in your mid-thirties is alternately terrifying / humbling / awesome.” Agreed.
4. Self Care Strategies For The Job Search
Hackbright software engineer and alumna Meggie Mahnken shares self care strategies for the software engineer job search. She crowdsourced advice from Hackbright alumnae, from not letting an interview outfit go to waste (go out with friends to dinner after an interveiew!) to “set a mini-goal for yourself to have something more achievable and within your control as a measure of success, rather than just ‘did you get an offer or not’ from the interview.”
5. Learn Git and GitHub
Self-taught web developer Jenn Wong shares her story about learning to code and working at Zillow. Her advice? “Learn Git and use GitHub to keep a record of the work you’re doing.” Now she’s working on becoming a full-stack engineer.
6. Read It Three Times If You Have To
Self-taught engineer and Spitfire entrepreneur Erin Parker shares her story of learning to code: “I started going through the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails tutorial and I ended up going through it 3x before things really started to click. In tech, you learn that you can teach yourself anything by googling stuff, finding a book, reading documentation.”
7. Have Confidence But More Importantly, Perseverance
Skybox Imaging software engineer and Hackbright alumna Danielle Levi shares advice about perseverance and confidence: “It’s easy to compare yourself to others in the industry and find yourself lacking. However, its often not a fair comparison. In my case, I found my interest in technology and computer science at a later point in life. I’ve had less time to learn as much. Everyone has their own unique obstacles. It’s better to compare yourself to yourself. Think about your progress, how much you’ve accomplished, and exercise self-compassion. Stay passionate and keep learning.”
8. Find Your Local Programming Resources and Meetups
Rachel Ann Werner went to Nashville Software School and learned to program – she’s now a back-end developer at iostudio. She recommends “getting out there and meeting people at programming user groups.” Rachel also founded the Nashville chapter of Girl Geek Dinners, an organization that encourages young women into technology careers. And on Meetup.com, she met the ladies of Nashville Women Programmers (pictured, below).
9. Ask for Help
Uber software engineer and Hackbright mentor Martha Girdler shared advice on “politely and unobtrusively asking for help.” She advises mentees to “don’t be afraid to politely and unobtrusively email someone you admire in your field and ask for mentorship. It’s best to ask for a small amount of their time (a phone call once every few months, a few emails here and there). Always take notes, and research your potential mentor thoughtfully and thoroughly. If they say yes, your first priority is to ask thoughtful questions!”
10. It’s OK Not to Know Everything
Medium software engineer Jean Hsu assures new programmers: “It’s OK not to know everything.” She continues that “it’s impossible to know everything, but sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s easy to think that everyone else knows it all. There’s plenty of time to learn. You are not an impostor. It is incredibly unlikely that you got lucky over and over and over again. It’s much much more likely that you got where you are through hard work and your accomplishments.”
11. Remember, This Too Shall Pass
Presidential Innovation Fellow and software engineer Sarah Allen was a young mom when someone told her “this too shall pass.” Sarah reminds us that “when things really suck, remember that this too shall pass, and when things are really great, remember that this too shall pass.”
12. Do the Hardest Thing
Femgineer founder and software engineer Poornima Vijayashanker urges women to “do the hardest thing.” Instead of doing what’s easiest — that would bring her the maximum benefit — Poornima always chose to pursue the hard path. She’s programmed herself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought her the greatest joy.