Sunday, October 7, 2012

Are we ready for the next level yet? Perspectives from Junior Women in Technology

This year I had submitted a session for GHC12 along with my friends Kerry Corrigall and Aakriti Agarwal, both of whom I've developed friendships over the years stemming from our experiences at previous Grace Hoppers.

Our idea was to have a session on early career development, designed for junior employees and given by junior employees.  We've all been to sessions on this topic given by very senior, experienced people who have given valuable advice, but we wanted to provide a fresh perspective.

We structured the session as follows: each presenter gave a brief introduction and some details on their career highlights and progress, followed by an anecdote that touched on one key aspect of career development we wanted to highlight.  After providing a summary, we described some common pitfalls or risks that each of these might have, and ways to mitigate them.  Since we wanted the session to be as interactive as possible we used only about 15-20 minutes for this, then opened the floor up to discussion, tips, and questions from attendees.  We were really aiming for more of a dialog than on providing a didactic lesson. 

We touched on three main points, which I'll describe briefly here.

My story was about communication: as you might tell by my blog, I'm fond of longer-form writing with lengthy paragraphs and sentences.  While this style might be great for telling stories, it's really not ideal for email communication.  Over the past three years this is something I've worked hard to improve; these days you'll find my emails contain headings and short sections, bulleted lists, and bolded names when I want to set action items.  I also talked about how tone is important and that if you are too brief you can sound a bit robotic. :)

Work-Life Balance
Aakriti talked about her involvement with side projects at work and how getting involved with them helped her find the most interesting projects in her company as well as valuable social connections, so she could enjoy her work more and also have more social connectivity outside of work.

Using Your Network
Kerry talked about how it might seem like there is a formal process to getting jobs within your company, but that if you work your social connections and collaborate well with the teams you're interested in, you can skip that and move to the place you want to be in your company.  She also talked about how perception is important and that if you are perceived as a 'social butterfly' it could hurt you career-wise.

We got some excellent questions and comments from the floor.  We also heard several attendees' stories of success which was very inspiring!  Several people gave us positive feedback after the session, but we'd like to know what you think: don't forget to leave your comments below if you attended!


Sandy Shaw said...

Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.
Network Concept

colleen said...

KT, now I know why you want me to fix my writing style. It's all about not talking off the top of one's head. I like the info about finding out what else the company is doing and networking within to pursue one's interests. Sessions are valuable for everyone.