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4 Ways Women in Tech Tackle Career Transformation

Estimated reading time ~ 4 min
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Navigating career transitions isn’t easy for anyone—including women in the tech industry. Women make up just 28% of the tech workforce, and finding the necessary community, support, and guidance for handling these transitions can be difficult. That’s why Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT) exists. AWIT is a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate careers for women in tech and address diversity gaps in leadership.

Recently, AWIT partnered with Twilio to host a discussion titled "Transition and Transformation in Your Career Story." Moderated by Cherilynn Castleman, Twilion panelists offered insights from their own experiences as women in tech. They shared big wins, bigger challenges, and pro tips that are valuable for any woman who wants to take control of their career and thrive.

Sign up to watch the full video here.

Short on time? Check out the key takeaways below.

1. Embrace a growth mindset. The possibilities are endless.

Transitioning in your career requires pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Our panelists underlined a few ways to do that.

  • Start building connections. For women in tech, a professional network is critical for career growth. According to Forbes, 80% of all jobs are filled through professional network connections. You can’t create the career of your dreams in a bubble—it takes a village to succeed.

    Moderator Cherilynn Castleman suggested saying: “I’d love to hear your story.” Everyone has a story to tell, and if you’re intentional about who you connect with, there’s likely something very important you’ll learn in the process of building your network.

  • Raise your hand. Does your manager have too much on their plate? Is a project lead asking for volunteers? Does another team need more hands on deck? Probably! By breaking out of your normal day-to-day, you allow yourself to uplevel your skills while simultaneously learning new ones. Win-win.

  • Uplevel your skillset. So many resources are available to learn new skills. From online courses (like Coursera and Udemy) to YouTube and even the “how to” section of your local library, it’s getting easier to find exactly what you need. Use these tools to upskill areas of opportunity, and reskill areas you’ve identified as important for your next step.

2. Gain a deeper understanding of your career goals.

Knowing yourself better, and where you want to be, is invaluable during a job transition.

  • Start with learning more about your next step. A job description can help you determine if you qualify for a particular role, but the chances of matching 100% of a role’s requirements are slim to none—even for the best candidates. Panelist Ridhi Sahni advised: “Find a commonality.” Are the requirements close enough for you to make the leap?

  • Look inside yourself. Get candid about your strengths and weaknesses by asking these questions:

    • What requirements do I need to develop? Check out courses, certifications, all the resources mentioned above so you're able to provide examples of your knowledge in an interview.
    • What requirements do I already fulfill? Similarly, have examples to share once you get to the interview stage. Being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses in direct correlation to the job description makes transferring to that new role a little less intimidating.

  • Ask for advice. Other people have a lot to share—and frequently love to be asked about their insights and experiences. As panelist Chelsea Coster reminded us, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone with something as simple as: “‘I really admire your career… I’m really struggling with x, do you have any recommendations?’” She reports: “I’ve never had anyone say no.”

3. Step outside your comfort zone and be courageous.

In a world where women are often overlooked for leadership positions, it’s important that we make ourselves, and our worth, known.

  • Get involved. It’s easy to get comfortable with a routine, but external changes can force us to look beyond. If you see an opportunity to share your skills, contributing or volunteering is a good way to ensure job security amidst instability such as layoffs, RIFs, and restructures.

  • Move fearlessly. Pushing yourself may feel uncomfortable, but wondering if you missed out can be worse. Even if you make a wrong move, you can always go back to what you know with a bold new attitude knowing you tried. Panelist Lindsay Harman shared a favorite mantra: “Better an oops than a what if.”

  • Negotiate a better salary. By gathering the right data, you can enter conversations about salary with confidence. Panelist Ridhi Sahi specifically called out Glassdoor, Indeed, and salary.com as tools to check out during your research. These sites show market rates for many different positions so you can come to the table prepared to negotiate.

4. Be unapologetically you. It’s your most valuable asset.

Not all advice works for everyone. There’s an abundance of knowledge out there, and it’s important to be true to yourself and your vision. Our panelists emphasized that however you navigate this process, it’s important to stay true to yourself.

  • Focus on the positive. As Chelsea Coster reminded us: “It’s okay to not be good at everything. Acknowledge what you’re not good at…then lean into what you are good at and let that guide where you take your career.”

  • Follow your heart. Grow in areas that interest you. Get there in ways that play to your strengths.

  • Write your own story. Chart a path to the life you want to build. Be true to yourself in every interaction and you’ll eventually find the right fit.

Shout-out to our amazing panelists.

These pro tips have helped women build their dream careers in the tech industry, and we hope it does the same for you.

While we’ve highlighted the key themes, no one can say it better than the panelists who have lived these experiences. You can watch the full discussion here.

Ready for your dream career? You can find a full list of open job opportunities at Twilio here.

Huge thanks to our moderator and panelists on the "Transition and Transformation in Your Career Story" discussion:

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