5 tips for women starting their technology career
This Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the impact of #WomenCreate at home, in the workplace, and in the world. In particular, we’re highlighting ‘womentorship’, a tribute to what’s possible when women learn from and mentor other women.
I’m just about to complete 13 years at Adobe – I’ve seen much change in both the business and my own professional life. In the spirit of womentorship, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way, as well as advice to young women starting out in their careers, particularly in the technology industry.
- Focus on your game, not the score
Pursuing a successful career in a competitive industry like technology pushes people to their limits, and the path of progression is often littered with many distractions. It’s crucial for young women starting their careers to have clarity on their purpose and goals, then build a game plan mapping out how to develop the necessary skills and expertise to achieve them.
It’s equally important to avoid being distracted by short-term gains, like a desire for immediate results or recognition. When working towards realizing a vision, remember that there are often no shortcuts that pay off in the long term.
- Embrace failure, and keep going anyway
In the early stages of my career, I feared failure. I had a tendency to equate it with weakness which manifested into unreasonable demands I placed not only on myself but also my team, inevitably making me a challenging manager and colleague to work with.
I recognize now that failure is not just common but necessary. Young women need to be fearless and embrace failure for its ability to push and challenge you to be better, rather than seeing it as a mark of your shortcomings.
- Be purposeful with how you invest your time
Most women grapple with trying to do it all – be a good wife, mother, daughter, employee, leader, mentor, friend and many other roles. One of the key skills you can learn is to be purposeful in how you use your most important resource - time. Knowing your priorities and purpose will help give clarity on where you should devote your time. If you allow yourself to get too reactive to daily pressures without time for deep thinking, you’re unlikely to succeed in your major goals.
- Invest in becoming a strong communicator
Communication skills are so important in work and in life. It can be daunting interacting and collaborating with a complex network of cross-functional teams, stakeholders and executives. I highly recommend investing in communication training to have a strong voice in the room, giving you the confidence to clearly communicate your ideas and needs. Effective communication with empathy will also help you build strong relationships in all aspects of your life.
- Know that you are enough
How women are perceived in the workplace has come a long way. A marked increase in diversity and inclusion over the years has paved the way for more women to rise to their leadership potential and be supported to excel in them. However, many still struggle with feelings of inadequacy. A study found that 75 percent of executive women have experienced imposter syndrome at various points during their careers, especially during promotions or transitions to new roles.
Young women need to dream big and constantly find ways to support and uplift each other. And above all, remember to tell themselves: ‘I am enough. Whatever I choose to do, I am enough.’