Earlier this month, we welcomed 30 girls from sixth grade at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School in Queens to Shutterstock's NYC HQ. The students were all curious to learn about careers in technology, and their visit was part of Computer Science Education Week and the recently launched “Women in Tech” program from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Department of Education.
The program provides female students from communities underrepresented in the tech sector with exposure to technology careers through field trips to NYC tech companies, where they can meet female engineers and other technology professionals. This initiative is closely aligned with our belief that discovery of technology and learning to code should happen at a much younger age.
The field trip kicked off with a tour of Shutterstock HQ. Needless to say, the view of the Statue of Liberty was one of the main attractions, closely followed by the standing desks and the iPads with our remote colleagues on Google hangouts from their homes and our offices around the world.
We invited female colleagues from a variety of positions within our tech team, including engineers, product owners, researchers, API experts, and user experience designers, to share their stories and what led them to join Shutterstock. The girls learned of our colleagues’ winding and experimental career paths, and discovered that a passion for solving interesting technical challenges and a desire to be a part of a great team is at the core of our tech team's success. Here are a few key tips we shared.
Carla Casamona, Head of Talent, advised the girls to continue to learn about technology and programming skills at this young age, because it's the language of now and the future. "It's important to embrace technology now to get ahead and to be empowered in your future careers," she said.
Janet Giesen, Manager API Programs, shared some advice from her professor.
Ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do I like?
2. What am I good at?
3. What do I feel good about doing?
Jessica Meng, Product Manager Mobile, reassured the sixth graders, “It's okay if you don’t know what you want to be right now; this will become clear and will evolve as you get older and try different things.”
And Zuley Clarke, Manager Research and UX, advised, "Don't shy away from math and art. Math helps you problem solve, and art gives you a way to express yourself. The combination of the two is so powerful. Also, try a lot of different things to find out what interests you. You'll have so much more fun in life if you pick something you're passionate about and make a career out of it."
Special thanks to our colleagues Erin, Carla, Janet, Jessica, Maggie, and Zuley who kindly shared their stories and tips for pursuing a career in technology during this event!
What advice would you offer to the youth of today for getting into tech? What do you wish you knew when you were younger? Tell us in the comments!