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Hackbright: How To Ask For What You Want And Need

Angie Chang
December 09, 2015

Hackbright: How To Ask For What You Want And Need

For the Fall 2015 Hackbright engineering fellowship, I shared some thoughts on how to ask for what you want and need - through my lens of entrepreneurship, growth mindset, and the need to be cognizant of the iterative process in the job search (from networking, to how you talk about what you have/can do on your resume). Be coachable and patient in the process -- YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK.

Angie Chang

December 09, 2015

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  2. DISCLAIMER: MY STARTING POINTS •  As an entrepreneur who had

    to make her own networks, my views are colored by the lens of entrepreneurship. •  Say yes and figure it out later (e.g. mentoring, tech talks). •  It’s not inherent smartness, it’s how long you’re in the game, how you communicate, and how coachable you are. Started Women 2.0 with co-founders in 2006. (pic: 2007, Women 2.0 Conference @ CNET) Started Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners (pic: 2008, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner @ Google) Started at Hackbright Academy in 2012. (pic: 2014, Zoe Kay working at New Relic)
  3. HYPOTHESIS •  The job search requires entrepreneurial thinking. •  99%

    of creativity is perspiration (trial-and-error). •  You are more creative than you think! (source: @EntryLevelRebel) Great News—Science Says You Have Way More Potential Than You Even Realize
  4. ENTREPRENEURIAL THINKING Similarities b/w entrepreneurship and a job search: • 

    Requires a strong BELIEF that YOU will succeed. •  Optimism required. •  Because if not you, who? •  Similar to being an entrepreneur, you are your biggest advocate. •  Requires a GROWTH MINDSET. •  Rejection and setbacks are inevitable. Iterate and learn.
  5. MAGICAL THINKING You are more persuasive than you think, and

    you have to believe you will succeed. Optimism required. You need a Growth mindset. Rejection and setbacks are inevitable.

    I’m not good at this. What am I missing? I’m awesome at this. I’m on the right track. I give up. I’ll use some of the strategies we’ve learned. This is too hard. This may take some time and effort. I can’t make this any better. I can always improve, so I’ll keep on trying. I just can’t do maths. I’m going to train my brain in maths. I made a mistake. Mistakes help me learn better. She’s so smart. I’ll never be that smart. I’m going to figure out how she does it so I can try it. Plan A didn’t work. Good thing the alphabet has 25 more letters. It’s good enough. Is this really my best work? Instead of: Try: Everything is exercise & practice – we’ll get it in time!
  7. LIKE DUCKS IN A POND… Everyone, from the people who

    do have advanced degrees in engineering, to the new junior engineers, feel absolutely lost for the first year on the job.
  8. LIKE DUCKS IN A POND… Imposter syndrome is real. Work

    hard and know your stuff. And if you need a pep talk, read the last chapter in Mindy Kaling’s book “Why Not Me?” Or just search for “Mindy Kaling's Guide to Killer Confidence” – it’s posted online at Glamour.com

    try to take a brute force approach, you run the risk of burning out. What you instead want is to develop a feedback mechanism where you learn from each conversation and refine your pitch. You will get better, it takes practice! Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer and Mint.com’s first female engineer frequently speaks on this and how to become a public speaker.
  10. TELL YOUR STORY Your pitch or “story” will develop the

    more times you say it. Check out Kat King’s blog post on “Imposter syndrome and saying yes”
  11. WE ARE IN IT TO WIN IT TOGETHER Everything looks

    greener on the other side of the fence. Whether it’s the job that was accepted in 1 day, or the job from a company with a brand name. Make your situation work for you, and be friendly with everyone because who knows where everyone will be in a year, 5 years, or 10 years, or more! Feminist art via ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com
  12. READ “GETTING MORE” BY STUART DIAMOND A worthwhile read on

    asking for what you want in work and life – AKA negotiation. “A flexible toolkit for getting your way, whether… a million-dollar deal, a botched restaurant dish, or a petulant 4-year-old.” -- Psychology Today Learn how to ask for, and get, more.
  13. JOIN MAILING LISTS Listen, lurk and occasionally chime in. Email

    lists: •  Hackbright alumna, DevChix, PyLadies, R-Ladies, Systers,,,, •  What are some of your favorite lists? Facebook groups: •  Female Founders Conference (3,600+ members) •  Women of Color in Tech - Bay Area (1,500+ members) LinkedIn groups…
  14. TOOLS TO FIND A JOB Get ahead. Get a job.

    Be recognized for your achievements! •  Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date with your latest projects, that you are regularly committing to GitHub. •  Follow interesting developers/companies and tweet at them (more on this later). •  If you have a spare weekend, try creating an online portfolio or build a new project (then blog it, put it on LinkedIn, tweet it). •  The important thing is that you can be found online. Even if you want to use a pseudonym, use all the social media tools to be discoverable.
  15. ASK QUESTIONS Go ahead, be inquisitive/curious! We learn with trial-and-error

    and social media is no exception. See what tweets people respond to, and learn to tweet at other developers and companies! Practice thinking of a good question to ask, then ask it! •  Tweet at interesting people/companies you follow (e.g. developers, mentors, tech reporters, “thought leaders”) •  Agree or disagree with something they tweeted. •  Provide additional comments or useful links. •  This gets you on their radar. Blog? Try sharing something you once thought was hard, but now explain it so someone else can get it. (Tools: Medium, WordPress)
  16. FIND MEETUPS Every technology or tech tool has a meetup

    on Meetup.com. Find and join some meetups to be notified of future events! Check out meetups in interesting new technologies, attend some events, make friends, hack on interesting projects, or start a new group! Pictured: Sasha Laundy, who started Women Who Code to meet other women learning to code! What group/meetup can you start to meet your own learning/engineering goals? You can also search Eventbrite for meetups and hackathons!
  17. TECH COMMUNITIES Follow interesting topics in Meetup.com and go to

    networking events to meet new people in your industry! •  San Francisco Python Meetup (pictured, above) is a good place to start. Many women-focused groups also exist. •  If you are shy, encourage someone to go with you! •  Wear a statement item (ie. your Python shirt, 3-D printed LEGO earrings) if you are nervous about conversation-starters. •  Break the ice! Don’t wait for someone else to do it. •  Don’t hesitate to let people know who you are and what you are looking for. Give/take business cards. Connect with them on LinkedIn later and/or email them your resume for referral.
  18. GIVE A TECH TALK Tech conferences and meetups are always

    looking for speakers. “PyCon is the largest annual gathering for the Python community… a volunteer-run, supportive, happy, diverse conference for people of all programming backgrounds, from beginning to advanced Pythonistas and for professional and hobbyist programmers alike. The conference has tutorials, talks, poster sessions, development sprints, and more. A poster can be on any topic! To get a sense of the breadth of topics accepted, check out last year's posters. If you have something you want to share or a discussion you want to start, go for it! Posters are low key, and a particularly great way for first-time conference speakers to get their feet wet.” – Jessica McKellar, PyCon co-organizer Suggested action items: •  Grab a group of interested Pythonistas. •  Host a proposal-writing session or two. •  Keep each other accountable for submitting! •  Details: http://us.pycon.org/2016/speaking
  19. NETWORKING Meetups often feel as intimidating as speaking at events.

    You hear how a “warm lead” is ten billion times more valuable than a cold email or clicking a “submit” button on a job platform. A warm lead is simply another human being with a connection to a company or job you are interested in. You may… •  Have just met this person -- this is OK! •  Ask them to introduce you to someone who is hiring. •  Send your resume over. In a few days, ask them to check-in on the status of your application if you can’t do it directly.
  20. 9 CROWDSOURCED NETWORKING TIPS! 1.  Have a goal: Is it

    to meet 1-3 people at an event? Is it to stay for an hour? Have a goal when walking in the door. 2.  Practice curiosity: Ask people questions about what they do, their company, the engineering roles there, the tech stack… 3.  Have a drink: Whether alcoholic or coffee, many people have suggested having some liquid courage beforehand. 4.  Early bird gets the worm: If you go to an event early, there are fewer people so it's easier to talk - and it's probably quieter! 5.  Stand by the food: Ask someone who joins you at the food table what is good, have they been to this event before, how did they hear about this event... to get the conversation started and then ask what they do and where, etc.
  21. NETWORKING TIPS (CONTINUED!) 6.  Join a group of two: You

    don't have to force yourself into a large group of strangers. Try joining a group of two. 7.  Try to look friendly: Some have suggested wearing a conversation-starter nerdy t-shirt. Things like a warm smile, a firm handshake and a genuine curiosity in others really helps. 8.  Figure out your 1-2 line answer to “what do you do?”: Everyone always asks, so might as well prepare your lines. You can even try different (truthful) answers to see which answer piques the most interest with folks! 9.  Network online and off: From mailing lists to Slack channels, from in-person events to browsing LinkedIn, send a message asking to grab an informational coffee with someone.
  22. PRESENTATION LAYER: THE RESUME The resume (and cover letter) should

    be continually iterated and updated. Ask for feedback on how to tailor your resume for the company/role if possible. Check with Wendy and Ximena (Hackbright Career Services!) for best practices on resume and CL. Also, the internet has templates.
  23. HOW TO PROVE YOUR VALUE Learn how to say that

    you are passionate, creative, responsible, strategic – without using those exact words. •  Use examples by telling stories that use numbers and results. •  To get across that you’re responsible, give a walk through of some of some times when you went above and beyond to ensure the tasks you were assigned were completed on time. •  Or to show your strategic thinking skills, mention in concrete terms some of the initiatives you started and what problems your projects solved for your team or company.
  24. Don’t hesitate to follow-up on unanswered email every 3-5 days.

    •  “Let me know either way if…” PRO-TIP: Use Boomerang in Gmail. •  Schedule follow-up emails to be sent later (ie. 4-7 days later) •  Can be reoccurring and/or resend if conditions aren’t met (ie. no reply) FOLLOW-UP EMAILS
  25. •  Use Hackbright’s Career Services team – Wendy Saccuzzo and

    Ximena Cervantes – as a resource. They will send emails with useful opportunities like new jobs, career resources & more! •  The Hackbright Career Services team is always here to help – Don’t hesitate to reach out to request 30-60 minutes to talk with Wendy or Ximena about YOU – to talk about your job search and what your career goals are. Remember, they know who’s hiring and can make warm intros to companies about job openings! •  Follow Hackbright (@Hackbright) and Daily Muse (@DailyMuse) for daily updates on job searching – it’s a nice touch in your Facebook newsfeed if you Like us on FB! ALWAYS BE LEARNING!