10 Women In Tech On The Best Career Advice They Received

12 Women In Tech On The Best Career Advice They Received

03/01/2024
7 minutes

Career advice doesn’t have to come from the pages of a self-help business book or a high-profile CEO’s TED Talk to be useful — in fact, the most memorable advice often comes from unexpected sources, like a brief coffee chat with your work bestie, a reassuring Slack message from your team leader, or even the lyrics of a Beyoncé song. 

For women who work in tech, there’s power in getting feedback and recommendations from other women who have been in your shoes. Despite incremental progress toward gender equality in the tech industry, women still only make up about 28% of the tech workforce

In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked women in our Code Crew and the Codecademy community to share the best career advice they ever received. Read on to learn the practical and refreshing pointers that helped women in the tech industry thrive.

Prioritize flexibility

The advice: “The best career advice I was given was a year or so after graduating when I wasn’t sure what kind of work was a good fit for me. I’d tried various jobs and at the time was working as a driving instructor. After passing their driving test, one of my clients, who was a programmer, said to me ‘You should work in IT.’ They even went as far as giving me a spare computer they had. This advice resonated with me because I realized a career in IT could give me the flexibility and financial support for a good work-life balance, which was what I really wanted. A few months later I started work as an Analyst Programmer and have been working in IT for over 20 years now!” – Grace Kishino, Full-Stack Developer and Code Crew member

How to do it: Focus on developing in-demand skills that offer flexibility, such as programming, data analysis, or project management. Network with professionals in these industries and seek mentorship to gain insights and guidance for navigating remote-friendly career paths. There are even job boards for remote work that you can browse to find opportunities that fit your lifestyle.

Turn passions into transferrable skills

The advice: “The most impactful career advice I’ve received came from my sister, Krisztina, during a period of professional uncertainty. She simply said, ‘Follow your passions.’

Initially, I dismissed it as a cliché. How could my love for calligraphy or paint-by-number translate into a viable career? However, over time, I began to understand its depth. My passions weren’t just hobbies but indicators of what I truly enjoyed and excelled at. While not necessarily leading to a career in arts, they pointed towards qualities like creativity and problem-solving, which I found fulfilled in programming. Since then, I’ve consciously tried to identify the specific aspects of my hobbies that resonate with me and integrated them into my work. Regardless of the job title, prioritizing tasks and skills that align with my passions has been transformative in my career journey.” – Lilla Csanaky, Junior Customer Success Engineer and Code Crew member

How to do it: Start by reflecting on your non-coding hobbies and interests and consider how they might translate into valuable skills or qualities. When you prioritize tasks and roles that align with your passions, you’ll feel more fulfilled in your career, regardless of the specific job title or industry.

Remember to negotiate

The advice: “Always negotiate [your salary], even if you think the amount is final. I’ve always negotiated when getting a new role, and I’ve always ended up getting a higher amount than the initial offer. In the past, I’ve felt worried that they would rescind the offer or be upset, but that never happened! I realized my fear was standing in my way. Plus, it’s a great way to practice advocating for yourself. Remember, you’re worth it!” – Sarai Fernandez, Codecademy Domain Manager, Computer Science & Cybersecurity

How to do it: Negotiating your salary can be nerve-wracking, but think of it as an opportunity to ask for what you’re worth. Even in fields like technology, the gender wage gap exists. The latest Census Bureau data found that women earned $0.83 to every dollar earned by men — and the gap is even wider for women of color. Not sure what to say when it comes time? Read this blog for some examples of lines you can use when you’re negotiating your salary. 

Face your fears

The advice: “Fear won’t take you anywhere beyond where you stand. Sometimes we feel sad or scared because things are not going how we want them to — but what are you doing to change that? Do you want to work at a big company? Well, what about applying for the job? Do you want to change your role? Instead of thinking about it, start a course about your new interests! Do you want a role upgrade? Talk to your boss! Not sure how to do certain projects? Speak up! Knowledge problems can be solved by learning; fear is solved by facing it.” – Laura Guette, Multimedia Engineer

How to do it: Learning a new skill is empowering and can help you grow in your career. If you’re ready to take the next step — whether that’s enrolling in a course or taking on a new project — be sure to check out the new and improved Codecademy plans. The new Codecademy Plus plan, for example, is ideal for folks who are working towards a promotion or who want to build specialized skills, because you can build your own roadmap based on your goals. Take a look at the whole Codecademy course catalog to get inspired.

Apologize sparingly

The advice: “As a woman early in my career, I never realized how much I apologized — even for things that I wasn’t responsible for or weren’t in my control. My boss at the time gave me the feedback that I didn’t need to continually fall on the sword for my team and others. She shared how she did the same thing, and as a woman we can often use it to keep everyone happy. I didn’t need to say, ‘Sorry,’ instead I needed to think about how I would work with the resources I had to find a solution. There is of course a time and place to take accountability, but I never realized how much I was using it as a catch-all for any problem. Now I realize the power of being solution-focused and direct.” – Britney Russ, Codecademy Director of Product Management

How to do it: If you’re an over-apologizer, there are lots of other useful phrases you can use in place of “sorry.” For example, “I appreciate your patience” or “I’d like to add.” 

Stay consistent

The advice: “Consistency is the only way to achieve your goal.” – Ankita Choudhury, Student

“Consistency is the key.” – Roseline Aderemi, Data Analyst Instructor

How to do it: It’s not surprising that multiple people emphasized the importance of consistency in tech careers. No matter where you are in your coding journey, it’s important to find ways to make coding a habit. Set a realistic goal for yourself, and choose your weekly learning target (find this in the “My Home” section when you’re logged in to Codecademy) to stay accountable. Not sure where to start? Here are some bite-sized coding goals to consider setting for yourself. 

Make sure your voice is heard

The advice: “Learn the phrases: ‘I haven’t finished speaking’ and ‘Yes, I understand that,’ and use them.” – Megan McCoy, Codecademy Project Manager

How to do it: File away these concise and clear phrases the next time you feel like you’re being interrupted, talked over, or just plain ignored. Communication research has shown that women are interrupted more frequently than men. 

Track the impact of your accomplishments

The advice: “The best career advice I’ve ever received is to always remember to track the impact of my accomplishments, to ensure that there’s a way for me to measure the success of what I do. This is constantly helpful during annual performance evaluations.” – Jennica Econg, Product Manager

How to do it: Keeping a running log of your accomplishments at work is an awesome way to make sure that your individual contributions are not overlooked. Check out this article for tips on creating and maintaining a “hype document.” 

Make your own luck

The advice: “I reference this TED Talk all the time, because it shatters the idea that ‘luck’ just happens to people. Luck does happen, but in this talk, [engineering professor Tina Seelig] equates luck to ‘the wind,’ and ‘the sails’ are your actions that invite luck in. For instance, talking to a stranger creates a new connection that ultimately benefits you both in the end.” – Sil Lavers, Codecademy UX Researcher

How to do it: Do something small that stretches you outside of your comfort zone, like introducing yourself to someone whose career you admire, or offering to present in a meeting.

Think in possibilities 

The advice: “This advice reminds me to let go of my insecurities and not think of my limitations, feeling unsuccessful, and that I will fail. It helps me think positively and not be shaped by prejudice on background, gender, and education.” – Emi Stockx, aspiring JavaScript Developer 

How to do it: Most of us are familiar with impostor syndrome, or feelings of self-doubt regarding your capabilities and achievements. This phenomenon is even more common among people who have underrepresented identities, like people of color and women, according to the American Psychological Association. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of self-doubt, there are lots of strategies that can help you overcome impostor syndrome, like connecting with other people or finding ways to acknowledge your successes.  

Don’t doubt your qualifications

“If you have 50% of what they ask for in the [job] ad, you can apply for the job.” – Emelie Wänstedt, UX Designer, in response to an invitation from Codecademy for people to share their personal experiences on Facebook

How to do it: Deciding to submit your application for a job opening can take a lot of courage — and research has shown that women often won’t apply for a job unless they meet 100% of the qualifications listed. Women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men, and are 16% less likely to apply to a position they view, according to a LinkedIn Gender Insights Report. If you’re job hunting and questioning whether or not you have enough experience to be considered for a role, read this blog for tips from a tech recruiter. 

Be sure to check out the Codecademy blog for even more advice on how to have a fulfilling career in tech, interviews with people who have cool coding jobs, stories about Codecademy learners who launched new careers, and more.

This blog was originally published in March 2023 and has been updated to include more advice from the Codecademy community.

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