A Girl In IT, Or 5 Tips For Ambitious!
In this post, I specifically will not talk separately about the “recipe for women”, because I believe that the scheme of success is the same, regardless of gender. On the differences and the specifics of the “female path” will be at the end. If someone is interested only in this part, feel free to scroll to the last section.
This is a conversation about how in the modern world a woman can build a successful career in the field of science, education or information technology, what difficulties she faces and how she can overcome them.
I was an IT speaker and told, as it seems to me, quite obvious and self-evident things. But, sharing impressions about the event with friends and colleagues, I discovered that the topic is very interesting to many people and treats it very differently. It was after this that the article was born. In it, I will talk about my career development experience in an IT company and what I consider important to do and what, on the contrary, to avoid in order to become successful in my business.
How to succeed in a modern IT-company?
So, here is my list of actions for a successful career building:
Of course, this is not about when you are lying on the couch, dreaming about how you organize your company and begin to live happily ever after. Thinking need to be proactive. Decide exactly in which area you want to develop and continue to act: independently study specialized literature, attend courses, etc. A lot of motivating articles, books are devoted to this topic, we are told about this even from school – there is not much to add here. For reference, a couple of examples of books that were useful to me personally:
This is about those same soft skills. I know from my own experience that when you cease to “do everything yourself,” the ability to build a dialogue, just bring your point to the interlocutor and justify your point of view sometimes becomes even more important than your own professional skills.
I know several examples when the most experienced employee from the group was appointed as the head, and after that the work of the whole group went downhill. A person could not clearly explain the task and motivate colleagues to accomplish it. As a result, he spent the extra time himself, reworking the tasks of his subordinates, and they suffered on the sidelines, seeing that their labors simply go to the landfill.
Further possible different scenarios. I will give a couple of them:
- A disappointed subordinate quietly quits and the company loses a good employee,
- Or he tells HR about an unhealthy situation (by the way, soft skills are also needed here!) and solves the problem by competently replacing the manager.
In start-up companies, when one person combines several positions, the lack of soft skills among the “tops” is particularly acute. So, the familiar CEO of an IT company told me that they almost lost a major customer due to the inability of the service station that plays the role of the pre-sale in this project to engage in dialogue. He had to urgently connect independently and negotiate with the client on the terms of the transaction, including technical aspects.
Therefore, developing communication skills is important and necessary. Teaching helped me a lot in this. While still a student at the Faculty of Innovation and High Technologies at MIPT, I was working on a math tutor. When a student sincerely does not understand what you are asking to calculate, you are looking for other ways to explain to him what is required of him. And then you try to find the right words, telling parents about the current successes and abilities of their child. It really helps to learn to patiently explain with different groups of people.
Now at work I need to communicate with developers, other Product owners and managers, foreign colleagues from Sales and Marketing, partners and customers. People from these groups have a completely different technical level, so they have to speak in a different language. But most importantly, they have different expectations from the conversation. For example, the seller is not interested in listening to exactly which ML algorithm is used in our SDK to search for lines in the image. It is important for him to understand whether this technology can be applied to solve a specific client problem. A developer, on the contrary, important technical details. Past teaching experience has helped me to learn how to properly build a dialogue with those and others.
Believe in yourself
You should not expect that everything will always be cloudless. First, everyone can be mistaken, but this does not mean that others will follow one mistake. In any situation, one should not be afraid to act, to believe in success and to exert maximum efforts to achieve a result.
- Secondly, innovative ideas are not always immediately supported – that is why it is so scary to propose them. And it is also difficult to understand that things that seem obvious to you do not occur to others (all people are different!).
For example, it was very difficult for me to overcome myself and begin to boldly express my ideas at general meetings. It seemed that since no one had suggested this, then this is definitely some kind of nonsense and everyone just laughs. But no! It happened that people simply did not think “in this direction” and a fresh look helped to quickly find a solution.
“Believing in yourself” sounds easy, but learning is very difficult. I was greatly helped by the support of friends and relatives, who always gave an honest assessment of their actions and judgments, were ready to listen and support. It is important not to be afraid to openly tell people around you that you need their help and tell you exactly what. However, one must be prepared for criticism. There have been situations when they directly told me that I was doing wrong. Basically, it was when I myself inside understood that I was doing something wrong. Therefore, after adequate criticism, I boldly changed course.
In order to achieve something, you need to set a goal for yourself and build a plan to achieve it. Otherwise, it is simply impossible to assess the degree of your success.
- On all clever goal setting trainings, it is standard to advise yourself to write 3 plans: for a year, for 3 years and for a farther period of 10-20 years (here the readings diverge). While you are writing this, you put your head in order: you will appreciate how much the things you want right now will help you to accomplish what you have planned in the furthest perspective. At this time, you understand what you can give up and what is really important.
If you look at a smaller scale, then you need to start with a plan for the day: a clear list of affairs with priorities helps to properly allocate time and disciplines. Then it goes into a plan for the week, and so on. I love to write by hand, so I make work plans for the day in the old manner – I am writing a to-do list in a notebook. But with longer periods this does not work out – it is more convenient for them to use electronic means (for example, the boards in Trello).
For planning time, a calendar is simply an irreplaceable thing (however trite it may be). Moreover, it is important to use the same calendar for both working and personal meetings and events. Otherwise, you risk never getting to the gym or to the theater.
Be ready for change
In IT, the last decade is very popular flexible development methodologies, in particular, agile. Exactly the same should be applied in everyday life and always be ready for changes.
You can plan everything well and clearly, but there are things that do not depend on us. At one point, the situation may radically change, and one should not be afraid to throw out his old plan without hesitation, sit down and write a new one. For example, when I studied at the 2nd year MIPT, I dreamed of becoming a developer. That’s why I entered the department of image recognition and word processing, supervised by ABBYY, and then came to work at the company. However, after a year and a half, I realized that I was much more attracted to the work of an analyst, and decided to change everything. For me it was not particularly difficult, because at the cathedral classes we were told in detail about the process of managing the requirements for the product as a whole and the specifics of this process in ABBYY. But all the same, changes in daily activities are essential – instead of writing code for a particular feature, you need to think about what particular feature is needed.
Of course, there is much more unexpected retraining: a pathologist who is tired of his work and decided to become a programmer or a physicist who started playing in the theater. These are all stories about how a person realized that the last choice is not so good, and decided to change.
“What’s wrong with women?”
Such a question I ask many familiar men. And then they add: “You, on the contrary, are easier! I went and smiled – and all the problems were solved by themselves. ” But that doesn’t work!
It’s easier when you are valued at the company for a professional level, regardless of gender, color, nationality, etc. When respecting human relationships in work and trust each other. We in ABBYY exactly like that.
In our world, everyone has already learned to sensibly assess the professional level of colleagues, so a smile will not help. On the contrary, a person will be treated more biased if he is used to solving work issues in a similar way.
- Unfortunately, such prejudices in IT are not only common among men. For example, when I, being a programmer, registered for a conference, the girl who wrote me a badge asked me to give my first name, last name and position. I happily said: “Olga Titova, a programmer.” In response, she laughed “at a good joke” and again asked me to name my position. When I repeated the word programmer, she was very surprised and noticed that I was not at all like a programmer. Explain why, she could not.
Another story happened quite recently. Discussing with my friend, also working in an IT company, the appointment of a relatively young man to a top position, I complained that at such moments I was upset that so far I had achieved so little. And in response, I saw her surprised face with the question: “How long have you been struggling with achievements with men ?!” It was even embarrassing to say that from birth. In my experience, often in the initial stages, a woman needs to work at least 2 times harder than a man, proving to those around her abilities. And only after the woman has earned credibility, they begin to communicate on equal terms with her.
I want to summarize my story with an appeal to everyone – both men and women.
Do not be afraid to develop and do what you are interested in, regardless of whether you are like a programmer or not. And do not hesitate to change the world around you and explain to others why the phrases from the series “Why should a woman build a career?” And “Why investigate uncharted areas and take risks?” Are not appropriate.
Only together will we help each other overcome such prejudices.
Good luck to everyone on the road to success!