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Hello! By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to Creative South, a design conference taking place in Columbus, GA. This is my first design conference so I’ll be sure to put together notes and take lots of pictures for roundups. If you’re interested, you can follow my journey on Instagram where I’ll try to get as many photos uploaded as possible. I have two incredible guest posters lined up. Today’s post is brought to you by the lovely Lisa which you may remember from this week’s Creative Couples feature. Lisa is a fantastic web developer and she’s talking about her newest career move to a web developer at Urban Outfitters!
Also, in case you missed it, we chatted about WordPress Security over at Sevenality. So be sure to take a peek. Thanks Lisa!
Before I became a web developer, transitioning into a technical job seemed like a feat I’d never be able to accomplish. As someone with a background in the humanities (I studied English and Spanish, and worked as a teacher, proofreader, newspaper editor, and career center assistant), moving into the tech industry felt really inaccessible to me. But little by little, I’ve managed to do it. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how I made it happen, especially about the nontechnical traits or actions that helped without me even realizing it. This is the advice I’d give myself three years ago, if I could go back in time.
1) Listen. Ask questions, then listen some more.
I’m an introvert and an observer. Sometimes this is a disadvantage, as I may hang back and check things out for awhile before diving into a new task or social situation. But it’s often an advantage. People love to talk about themselves or what they’re working on, and they’ll remember that you were interested in hearing what they had to say.
2) Help others
Even if you feel that you have little to offer, you still know more than someone else who may just be starting out. Sharing that knowledge early on will help you learn faster, and you’ll position yourself as someone who knows her stuff and is willing to give back.
3) Practice humility
It’s easy to be nervous about learning a new thing and being afraid of getting something wrong. My first instinct is to hide or respond defensively to criticism, and I really dislike that about myself. I decided to invite constructive criticism and seek it out, so that I could learn and grow. I’m trying to be grateful for feedback, even if it’s hard, because it will ultimately make me better at what I do.
Is there a local meetup or users group you can attend to make new friends (that’s how I prefer to think of networking) or learn about new concepts? Join! If not, maybe you could start one or find an online community with and from whom you can learn lots! Pretty soon these meetups or users groups feel more like educational friend hang-out time than a stuffy “professional development” event. Show up and be seen. But listen and be helpful while you’re there!
5) Celebrate others’ successes
At times, I’ve gotten nervous because lots of my friends are people like me — youngish women who were trying to transition into the tech industry. I worried that there weren’t enough jobs to go around. But that’s utterly not true. There’s room for all of us, and it’s not a competition. As soon as I approached it from a perspective of abundance, I could genuinely celebrate my friends’ successes without feeling jealous. Eventually, we all rode a wave of each others’ successes, and could feel really happy and proud of each other.
Photo: Lisa Yoder