NYU WEST Fest – The Women of SD Offer Perspectives on Careers in Tech

For the last two years, Something Digital has partnered with New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Women in Technology initiatives to increase access to quality learning opportunities and STEM-focused higher education for young women K-12 and incoming students at NYU. We attended the last three Girls Talk Tech events, where we spoke with inspiring young women with interests in STEM and answered panel questions.

Something Digital was invited to speak at NYU Tandon’s annual WEST Fest, where our team answered questions on a moderator-led panel and questions from students on how to prepare for a future STEM career and our perspective on working in a male-dominated tech industry. This was a huge honor for our company, and for our women-led panelists, to be a part of. Speaking to a full house of eager STEM students, mainly made up of women, was truly inspirational (please note that NYU’s Class of 2022 is made up of 43% women)!

A lack of women in STEM means a lack in perspective of half of the world’s population, which puts any thriving industry competing in today’s economy at a major disadvantage. As an interactive agency that works with ecommerce clients, diversity in our organization from top to bottom is crucial to our growth, as well as our clients’ success. A majority of our clients’ consumers are women (see: PapyrusIndustry West, among others), and having women decision makers in the room has only shown greater successes with our clients. It’s a no-brainer.

At Something Digital, we are proud to say that our team is made up of 41% women, including half of our leadership team! We continue to strive to increase that percentage and support different initiatives to educate future women in technology!

Written by: Yasemin Hizal, HR Manager

Panelist from left to right: Liv Martens, Melanie Lopez, Deanna Acerra, Lindsay Stork and NYU Moderator Cindy Lewis, Director, Undergraduate Enrollment Management

 

Getting Started: A Career in Technology
Written by: Liv Martin, Front End Developer

 

A year and a month ago I had just graduated from college, packed my student apartment into a U-Haul, and moved to New York to start my first ever full-time job as a programmer at Something Digital. There have been plenty of milestones in my career between that first day at the office and now. After trial and error (a lot of error), patient mentorship, late nights, and a few awkward presentations, I’m pleased to say I don’t bear too strong a resemblance to the developer who started at SD a year ago.

Last month I was excited to achieve another career first when I was able to speak on a panel at NYU’s WEST Fest. WEST (Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology) is the Tandon School of Engineering’s summer event for prospective students to hear about careers in tech from professional women in the field. As a relatively junior recruit, I’m still used to having more questions than answers on any given day. Speaking to the WEST Fest crowd was an exciting opportunity to recognize my own progress as a whole and to share my insights and experiences with young women on the same academic and career path that I followed. It was an unexpected joy to be able to experience a form of mentorship with these young women whose concerns and insecurities so closely matched my own not so long ago, and whose drive and accomplishments left me in awe.

I wasn’t the only employee from Something Digital to share her experiences with the WEST Fest audience. I was honored to share the panel with three of my coworkers, project managers Deanna Acerra and Melanie Lopez, and senior designer Lindsay Stork. In the interest of bringing their insight out of the panel setting and into the SD blogosphere, we have a few words of wisdom to share here about our careers in tech.

So here are my words of wisdom: don’t be afraid to ask for input! Sometimes asking for help can feel like an imposition, or even an embarrassment, but remember that everyone feels a little clueless when they start something brand new. No one springs fully formed into existence knowing every bleeding edge code concept imaginable (even though it certainly feels like it sometimes). Give yourself time to adjust, and don’t apologize for having questions.

This goes double for starting a career right out of school when you’re not only establishing your place at work but also building the foundation for your post-college life. Seek support through as many avenues as you can. When it comes to on-the-job input, a tech-savvy mentor can be indispensable, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the tech industry is an island. Talk to people with positions and skill sets different from your own, odds are they’ll have more insight than you expect.

Lastly, try and find support through networking outside of work. Professors, friends, and even parents can be great career assets. Find peers in groups like Women Who Code, or even join a meetup online. You have the drive and ability to succeed in tech, so surround yourself with people who share your drive and are invested in your success.

 

Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome
Written by: Deanna Acerra, Project Manager

 

EVERYONE feels like an imposter sometimes and that’s OKAY! I’ve experienced both, first when I was starting out in my career and again recently when I started a new job. New is scary but it’s also an opportunity to learn more skills – embrace it! I’ve dealt with this feeling of self-doubt by being confident in my decision and finding mentors I admire and talking to them.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “fake it till you make it”. Showing your confidence in words and actions is the first step to overcoming the little voice inside your head telling you that you may not be good enough. You’re not an imposter if you’re willing to put in the time. As long as you have the drive and the determination to get where you need to be, you’ll be alright. No one is going to look down on you for trying, so don’t be shy, it will only hurt you in the long run.

Another way to overcome this feeling is by talking to people! Finding commonalities (not just tech) will help break the ice with your new-found mentor. Find someone who is where you want to be and strike a conversation, learn from them, you may even end up forming a mentor relationship without even knowing.

Lastly, remember the positives! We as humans are very quick to toss a compliment aside, when you’re feeling like a “fraud” remember the wins! Most of all, just remember you’re not alone. Even the most successful people get this feeling.

The Importance of Mentorship
Written by: Lindsay Stork, Senior Interactive Designer

 

It can be tempting to believe you are so independent and competent that a mentor is unnecessary, but even top-level employees have trusted mentors to guide them into uncharted territories. A mentor not only gives insight into your future path, but also can prepare you for difficult career situations. For those beginning their careers, a mentor is paramount to previewing into what your working life will consist of. Finding and approaching a good mentor can be challenging, especially in an age where people are consistently busy and distracted. I’ve found, however, that most people thoroughly enjoy helping others and are willing to mentor you if you are genuine in your approach. Mentors are all around you! Look to find someone who is where you want to be in 5 years or so. They will have a fresh outlook on the steps taken to succeed, whereas someone who is too senior might not have relatable life experiences.

At Something Digital, a mentor program was implemented to help fresh graduates transition into the workforce by pairing each new hire with a seasoned employee. New employees have an outlet for questions, concerns, and career advice. For me personally, my mentor is my own manager who has always been a strong advocate of my ideas and my career path. But if you don’t have a mentor set up in your school or workplace, reaching out to former coworkers or utilizing your network of classmates, peers, or even LinkedIn connections can help facilitate a mentor relationship. I find it’s always best to have a connection with someone in person before reaching out on LinkedIn or emailing out of the blue. Forming a genuine rapport with your mentor prospect will allow mentors to see your passions and want to foster them. For those that mentor others, it’s fulfilling to see your mentee grow while simultaneously realizing how much knowledge you’ve gained in the process.

Want to learn more about SD? Check out our 20 year anniversary blog!