Quick career tips for underrepresented folks in tech

While I’m not particularly ambitious or career oriented, I have both been given advice assuming I am by folks more advanced in their careers and am a generally observant person who likes to understand how systems work. With layoffs abounding in tech, I wanted to share a gathering of thoughts that I think underrepresented folks in general have to keep in mind.

Curate and share your work publicly. Now that I’m sponsored to work in the open source WordPress.org community, I’m realizing how powerful it is to have my work on public display. For any future job, when I’m asked to share an example of something I did, I can literally link folks to my work! Designers seem to be excellent at this but many folks in other roles struggle or don’t find it relevant. Don’t just talk about the glamorous items either. Share mistakes, lessons learned, resources, etc.

Interview, even if not interested in a new job, or embrace opportunities to talk about your work semi regularly (ex: podcasts or calls with external folks).

It’s better to get practice in when you don’t need a job than when you do. This advice is stolen from someone who shared this tip with me years ago. By seeing how others respond to what you’re saying, you can also get quick feedback about how you present to the world and what part of your story might be missing.

Advocate for yourself and tell your own story. Don’t rely on others to do so. I used to rely on leads or HR to understand my work and my impact. I was doing so much outside of and on top of my job though that I realized most either didn’t have time or the context to truly capture what I was up to. Rather than waiting for someone else to tell my story, I started telling my own where I could, including learning the “fun” art of managing up.

Build alliances outside of your team or lead. Being useful to your team and lead is huge. Being useful across teams is even better. Having multiple folks who know you, your work, and your impact has a cascading advantage for opportunities and having people advocate for you when you’re not in the room.

Look at what jobs you want outside of your current organization and try to map your work today to where you want to go. It’s easy to think of career solely within your current company and structure but career can mean a million things. Look far beyond your company, your city, your profession and really think about the life you want to live. Ultimately, that’s what career ladders up to: a life you are living.


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