8 guaranteed ways to thrive as a woman in IT
Spend some time considering what a successful career looks like to you. Will you define success by your salary, your position, or something less tangible such as liking your coworkers or having flexible hours? Things move very fast in the tech world, so it’s important you start off with a solid idea of what you’re looking for in a career.
Focus on your strengths
A lot of people will tell you to do what you love, follow your passion, etc. But what you should really do is follow your strengths. Base your career decisions on skills you already have and create success by refining those skills. There’s nothing wrong with working on areas you struggle with. But when it comes to advancing your career in tech, you’re better off pursuing a promotion or training in something you’ve got a real knack for.
Do your research
Knowledge is power, especially when you’re trying to advance a career in tech. You can give yourself a big advantage in an interview if you come prepared with knowledge about the company and its products. The tech world is full of startups, and startups require people who are fully interested and engaged to survive and thrive. Keep yourself up to date on what’s happening in your industry. Research companies in your field and write up a dream list of the best ones you’d like to work for.
Don’t be afraid to fail
IT is all about working in new frontiers and that carries with it the constant risk of failure. To thrive as a woman in IT you need to lose your fear of failure. You’re going to learn a lot by failing your way to success, it’s just part of the job. Without failure you can’t have the kind of innovation and personal growth that is necessary to succeed in the tech industry. Learn not only to accept failure, but to embrace it as a stepping stone on the path to innovation.
Recognize that soft skills are important
Make the most of soft skills you possess, such as listening and collaborating. These kinds of skills can sometimes get buried underneath hard skills, but they are essential to maintaining a dynamic and effective tech workplace. Being able to build a social network and maintain strong relationships is crucial to your success in IT. In interviews you should try and highlight your communication and teambuilding skills; they are always popular with a hiring manager.
Prepare for bias
As a woman in the tech industry, you should prepare to encounter some bias; empower yourself by expecting and countering it. In an interview your best bet is to speak directly about the position and how you are qualified to fill it. Describe what you can bring to the company and your knowledge, rather than areas you are looking to improve upon. Unfortunately, you’re going to face biases that affect your chances of getting a job, receiving a promotion, and being chosen for projects. But this doesn’t mean you won’t get what you deserve, it just means you need to work hard to overcome these biases.
Create your own opportunities
When you work in a male-dominated field such as IT, it can feel risky to voice opinions and offer up new ideas. But it’s important to take these risks and create opportunities for yourself. Push past the feelings of doubt, your idea could be something that benefits your company and advances your career. Show off your knowledge and skills and establish yourself as someone not afraid of accountability.
Find a mentor
Identify a mentor you can turn to for advice, or if that doesn’t seem like an option, get yourself a career coach. Get to know your mentor and work on establishing a professional relationship. They can be invaluable not just for guidance, but for keeping you in mind for future career opportunities. Mentors are especially important to women in tech and can be helpful for navigating a male-dominated workplace.