This week, Crowdtap was honored to host a day-long “startup bootcamp” for the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN).
At the bootcamp, more than 40 middle and high school students received a first-hand perspective into the opportunities that exist in technology and marketing. The session was part of a three-week long summer program in which female New York City students hone their coding skills and develop web apps based on their own passions and interests.
Lena Feldberg, Software Engineer, and Aaron Graves, VP of Engineering, kicked off the day by providing insight into their career path and roles at Crowdtap. Lisa Chin, UX Lead, and Dan Berkowitz, Senior Product Designer, discussed the world of experience design and how they work with engineers to bring Crowdtap’s platform to life.
We were also thrilled to welcome Brittany Curry, Associate Brand Manager at Johnson & Johnson, and Nicole Blackford, Associate Brand Manager at Cumberland Packaging, who explored how technology impacts brand management and offered up their best career advice to the students, aged 12 through 17.
Prior to the event, we surveyed 90+ Crowdtap employees and asked them to share their best advice for young women heading into college and entering the workforce. Here are Crowdtap’s top 30 career tips:
It’s okay to wait a year to decide your college major. If you’re unsure of your career path, explore a range of courses and select a major your second year. Your major doesn’t necessary need to dictate the course of your career.
Self-educate throughout your formal schooling. The learning doesn’t have to stop once you leave the classroom. Become a voracious reader and follow blogs and publications that will help expand your knowledge in technology and other industries.
Be a student of the world. If you have never ventured far from your home city or town, consider studying abroad in college. Seeing other parts of the world will open up your eyes to things never before imagined.
Use your summers. Explore internships between semesters in fields that are relevant to the one you might end up working in. Use these to learn how to work in a professional setting and discover your likes and dislikes regarding job function and culture.
Take big assignments within your major seriously. Long-term projects (often assigned during your junior and senior years at college) can be referenced in future interviews in lieu of formal job experience. Look to them as an opportunity to build out a portfolio for yourself.
Tap into your collegiate network to find internships and job opportunities. College alumni are always a great source of information and are usually quite accommodating since you both already have a shared background. Work those connections!
In interviews, demonstrate your interest by asking the right questions. Ask the interviewer how they got to the company, what they enjoy most and what they believe are the most important things one must do in order to be successful there.
If you get pre-interview jitters, remember that interviews are simply a conversation. Try to find a point of commonality with the interviewer to break the ice. Be personable and professional, and do your homework beforehand.
Your first job (and manager) will have a huge impact on you – choose wisely. Look for companies that have a strong culture of learning and/or training. You will end up ahead of the curve in basic skills that you can carry through your entire career.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Wanting to get more information isn’t a sign of weakness. By asking the right questions, you will achieve your goal faster and it will show your manager that you care about your work and are not afraid to speak up.
Audit your own strengths and weaknesses. Which skills are you most confident in? Which topics are you most curious about? Where do your passions lie? Ask yourself (and the people you trust) these types of questions to help guide your career choices.
Never underestimate the value of hustle. Those who are truly successful in life recognize and value others who work hard. Don’t listen to anyone that tries to dissuade you from being your best.
That said, remember that life is all about balance. Working hard is important, but so are other things in life. Find a job where there is balance between your work and personal life. Your family, your friends, and your sanity will thank you.
If you’re feeling under-stimulated at work, ask to take on more. If you finish projects early, raise your hand and ask for more. Proactively assume more responsibility to gain new skills, earn trust and set yourself up for bigger responsibilities down the road.
A fire in the belly is a competitive advantage. Maintain the mindset that what you have could end or be taken away from you at any time. This mentality will keep you on your toes and will ultimately help you grow.
Put yourself in situations that scare you. Being scared means you’re growing – it’s a good thing. If you are fearful of public speaking, volunteer to lead presentations. More opportunities will present themselves if you’re willing to broaden your horizons.
Making mistakes is part of learning. Nobody is perfect all the time. The only way to improve is by having the courage to accept when you’re wrong, and having the will to improve. Raise the bar for yourself – perseverance is just as important as natural talent.
Always consider positions that will allow you to mentor and grow. The stepping stones for your career path should always be within the vein of what you want to do and hope to achieve.
Seek out mentors and use them as sounding boards. Grab coffee with your manager and ask for candid feedback – including constructive criticism. People love to hear that you are humble and open to improving at all costs.
Be flexible. Try to learn as much as possible and gain basic competency around a range of skills. Know how to alter your approach to communicating and problem-solving based on different clients or team members.
Be someone who makes those around you smarter. Gain influence by being a soundboard for feedback and helping others do their job better. Being collaborative doesn’t make you a pushover – it makes you a leader.
Don’t underestimate the importance of storytelling. The ability to tell a compelling story is a huge competitive advantage in the workplace. Know how to contextualize your successes in a way that motivates and inspires those around you.
Always provide context. When communicating at work, underscore why what you’re asking someone to do is important. Why should they care? Clearly spell out the significance of what you are communicating.
Demonstrate empathy. Ask people questions about themselves and be curious about your co-workers. Be a good listener and to demonstrate that you genuinely care about those around you. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as important as IQ.
Be solutions-oriented. Don’t go to your manager with problems. Instead, come up with recommended solutions that you can talk through together. Everyone makes mistakes – it’s how you handle them that will separate you from the pack.
Use your stats. Use hard numbers and facts on your resume and during interviews and negotiations. Know how your efforts contributed to the bottom line or larger company priorities and spell those out in a way that others can easily understand.
Be your own brand manager and openly promote yourself. Carry yourself with poise and professionalism. Seek face time with senior leadership. Small things like getting into the office before your boss can go a long way when it comes to demonstrating your dedication and passion.
Create short-term and long-term goals to advance in your career. Look forward one, five and ten years – where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? Break out the big picture into smaller steps and seek advice for moving forward.
The technology industry is predominantly male – SO WHAT!? Don’t let that stop you from following your passions and beginning a career in technology. There is tremendous opportunity out there for smart, hard working women!
Take control of your own future. One day, you will be incredibly successful at whatever you choose to do with your life. While that day may be difficult to imagine right now, start fighting for your future now.
You can learn more about the Young Women’s Leadership Network at http://ywln.org.