On May 7th, PowerToFly hosted a live webinar with the women tech leaders at DigitalOcean.
We're sorry that we weren't able to address all of your questions during the event (with over 180 attendees asking great questions, it gets tough!), but the DigitalOcean panelists graciously took the time to write responses to all of the questions we couldn't get to.
So if you attended the event and your question wasn't answered, take a look at the Q&A below to find your question and read the panelists' response! Still not seeing the information you're looking for? You can reach out to Limor directly with your question.
What kind of information do you need? Jump to the section you're looking for:
- Career Advice + Panelists' Personal Work Experiences
- Applying to DigitalOcean
- Working at DigitalOcean
- Webinar-Specific Questions & Feedback
- Engineering/Cloud-Computing-Specific Question
Career Advice + Panelists' Personal Work Experiences
1. Early in your career, how did you navigate the technical interview process in terms of preparation?
Jenni: I'm not sure I did much differently then than I do now. Which is to say, find out what you can about the company and what they're looking for. Lookup anything in the job listing you're unfamiliar with, and then be honest during your interview that you did that, but it goes a long way to being able to talk about what they are looking for and your willingness to learn. I never pretend to know things I don't, but I do offer educated guesses.
Sneha: One of the most important things for me is talking to individuals at the company (and those who might be in a similar role). I'd also agree with Jenni in that this is something I still do and something I did earlier in my career as well! I typically reach out to people at the company via Twitter and ask how the interview process is, what I might need to prep, etc. I also like checking Glassdoor
2. How do you build a network in your early career?
Limor: I built my network mainly though LinkedIn. When I moved to the US I had no connections and did not know anybody. I grew my network and improved, and it really paid off, as this is how DigitalOcean found me.
I also recommend attending local meetups, that can help you as well in expanding your network.
Sneha: So for me, I actually rarely use LinkedIn! After graduating, I started going to a lot of tech meetups, conferences, and reaching out to individuals at companies that I found interesting and asking if they'd like to grab coffee. I also leveraged the alumni network at my company. And one other thing is Twitter! Tech twitter - especially in the infrastructure space, can be quite friendly and helpful. I've met people who I pair program with, individuals who've suggested I apply to jobs, and others who've even suggested interesting conferences I attend via the platform.
3. What advice would you give to a new grad who is interested in tech but doesn't have that much experience?
Volunteer, contribute to open source, do your own side projects and put them on Github.
4. If You Have Been In Technology Sales/Account Management But Are Ready To Grow Within Marketing, Product Management, Channel Management. Do You Have Any Recommendations To Better Qualify For Those Positions?
The best way to get into roles such as Product Management, is to start building qualifications related to those roles. As an example, for Product Management, one can start by talking to customers and users, understand how they use the product, understanding where they feel the gaps, and then communicating those with Product decision makers. Another thing to do is to read up on product related topics -- there are a plethora of blogs, articles and books on the subject. And finally, talk to the Product Managers at your organization, and let them know of your intentions, and they will be in the best position to guide you.
5. How do you manage the job search process? In terms of dealing with failure and bouncing back
My advice to you is never take it personally, many times you might have been a good fit, but there was someone slightly better than you. I also recommend trying to get feedback from the recruiter what were the reasons for rejection and if there is anything you can improve on.
6. Being A Recent Boot Camp Full Stack Web Developer Graduate, Do You Recommend Remote Work Or Should I Work On Site First? Thoughts?
In general, we recommend engineers that are at the beginning of their careers to work out of an office that makes it easier to start their career journey. But it is specific to the team and the hiring manager. We try not to have strict rules and leave this up to the individual. (this is a personal thing, do they feel like they need colleagues around? do they feel like they can be productive in their home (or in an non-office environment)? do they feel like they can have the level of social engagement on their own that they may miss outside of an office? And just like a programming language or framework, working remotely is a set of skills you develop and improve over time and DigitalOcean really works hard to support its remote workers.
7. How Did The Individual Panelist Find Their Way To DO? Were They Recruited From Outside Firms? Did They Submit Resumes? Did They Have Contacts From Within DO?
Limor: I was contacted by Digital Ocean
Jenni: I randomly submitted a resume based on seeing a job listing on stackoverflow. I had never heard of DigitalOcean before and had to ask around to make sure it was legit. :-)
Sneha: I had been a long-time customer of DigitalOcean but hadn't thought of applying. An old engineering director/friend of mine suggested I talk to her friend who worked here; she was convinced it would be an environment I'd really enjoy. After speaking to her friend and visiting the office, I was hooked! I then submitted my resume via referral and the rest is history.
8. What Are Pain Points About Working Remotely?
Limor: It is very personal; I love working remotely and do not have any pain points
Jenni: It depends a lot on the person. Given the fact that the majority of people I work with are also remote, the actual ability to be productive and communicate with coworkers is not an issue at all. You're more likely to run into life-work balance things like not turning off work when you should, going stir crazy being in your house too much, or just turning into a hermit. There are lots of ways to counteract these as long as you know yourself.
Sneha: I agree with Jenni. I've found that I'm actually more productive working from home than when I was in the office due to fewer interrupts. I also still do pair program frequently so don't necessarily lose out on anything by working remotely. The bigger concern is the fact that a) it is very easy to turn into a hermit, b) often it is hard to put down work at the end of the day!
9. What are some good questions to ask when interviewing to make sure the culture is a right fit?
At DO we look for people who will add to our culture rather than fit in! Ask questions about a company's values, and what it takes to be successful. Ask your interviewers about what they like most about their jobs and their company.
10. What are some symptoms you have personally seen or experienced of someone who is poorly handling remote work life?
Typically lack of communication and lack of transparency about what they are working on.
11. What type of experience did you have when you first started engineering?
Jenni: It's been over 15 years, but I went a relatively traditional route. I got a degree in computer engineering from UofIL (so not computer science), but my first jobs were on a test team, then a tier3 support team, a software build team, and finally into development. When I first graduated, the only software development courses I'd had in school were an intro to programming class in java, some c++ from a data structures class, and x86 assembly.
Sneha: I actually didn't study computer science in school. I was an electrical engineering and economics double major...but in my senior year, I did some neural networks projects that required some very basic programming. Upon graduating, however, I realized that a) I was very interested in startups. b) I didn't want to work in silicon fabrication or embedded systems at the time. I ended up discovering a startup that allowed me to apply the math and stats I learned as an EE while writing C++ for casino games. I ended up working for a few more startups as a software engineer and learned a lot more on the job, by working on side projects, studying some traditional compsci textbooks, and finding mentors who pair programmed with me.
Applying to Digital Ocean
1. Are Interviews Also Done Remotely?
Yes, in fact the majority of the interviews are done remotely
2. Are The Posted Positions Super Strict On Requirements?
Depends on the position, we typically do not expect that a candidate will have all of the required skills, it is a wish list and we make compromises.
3. Is It Ok To Apply If I Have A More Varied Background That Reaches Into Different Areas, E.G., A Front-end/Web Dev That Also Has Marketing Experience, As Well As Programming Experience In A Language Other Than The One Required (Rails)?
I will say it is always better to apply than to not apply, worst case, we will tell you you are not a fit for what we are looking for. If you have specific questions, you can feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com
4. Are There Any Positions For Recent Graduates?
Look at our careers page for current open positions. We do have summer internship program which is a great way to start at DO, we have hired several of our interns.
5. Are There Opportunities For Technical Writers?
In general yes, look at our careers page for current openings.
6. Are You Looking For UX Designers?
Yes, look at the current job description for a designer.
7. Are There Positions Available With Digital Ocean That Takes Experience Into Consideration Even If You Do Not Have A Typical College Degree?
It is hard to answer that question generally, but I can tell you that we do have some engineers without a college degree
8. Digital Ocean Technologies Are Infrastructure Cloud Storage. How Does Someone With Software Engineering Background Fit In The Organization?
Absolutely! We have multiple software engineering positions. Take a look at our careers page.
9. Do designers also work remotely? We have hired designers to work remotely. Our career page is the best place to look for open roles in Product Design or Web Design.
10. Do You Have Any Opportunities In "Sales" Department?
11. Do You Have Any Part Time-freelance Opportunities In Design/Graphics Or Entry Level Product Manager?
We don't hire part time designers at this time. Look at our careers page for current openings on our Product Team.
12. Do You Have Tech Support Jobs Here Too?
We have several tech support positions at our careers
13. Does DO sponsor work visas for people who are in USA?
If you have applied to a position and need immigration assistance, please discuss with your recruiter. For specific questions about your particular visa needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
14. Does DigitalOcean offer any internships or mentor programs?
We do have summer internships every summer.
15. Does DO recognize and consider employing parents who have been out of job market due to parenting etc.?
16. Does DO Provide Training For Their Open Positions?
I am not sure what training you refer to specifically. Every new hire is going through an on-boarding for their specific team. The team provides all the guidance and information the new hire needs in order to be successful at their job.13.
17. How Much Experience Does One Need To Have In Open Source And Linux Environments To Be A Do Customer Success Manager?
DigitalOcean's Customer Success team has a wide range of technical experience. Generally speaking, our Customer Success Managers are primarily responsible for understanding the ecosystem and being able to pull in the right people across the organization to help customers overcome their challenges. Direct experience working with open source or Linux itself is not necessarily a requirement, but you should be able to work very closely with people who are passionate about both these things, and willing to learn!"
18. I Am Canadian, Planning To Apply For Remote Jobs In The Near Future, Including For Companies Based In The Us. Not Sure Of About The Jurisdiction. I Was Wondering What Are Your Policies Regarding Non-American Workers.
We do have a legal entity in Canada, and our Canadian employees are employed by the Canadian entity.
19. I Am Nearing The End Of My Career, Hoping To Work For Another 6-7 Years Before I Retire. I Have Worked In The Same Industry For 35 Years. My Skills Are Dated But I Am Enthusiastic About Learning Something New And Contributing In Some Fashion. I Have Started Learning Python... Does D.O. Have Positions For Displaced Workers Who Feel They Can Still Contribute?
It is hard for me to answer; we do not have something official for displaced workers. You can contact me directly at email@example.com and I will try to help.
20. I Noticed That Most Of The Posted Positions Are Technical. Do You Hire Functional Pms (Pmo)? Those That Generally Work In Concert W/The Technical Pm Doing Resourcing, Earned Value, Scheduling, Budgets/Forecasting, Metrics, Reporting, Etc.?
Not that I am aware of. You can look at our careers page for all open positions.
21. I See A Lot Of Engineer Positions. Do You Have To Know Actual Coding?
Each open position list the set of requirements from a candidate. Typically an engineer position would require to know actual coding.
22. I'm Making A Career Shift From A Very Different Industry, But Have Transferable Skills. Is DO Looking More At The Specific Skills Vs. The Industry?
It is hard for me to answer that genetically because that is depending on the specific team and what the hiring manager think his/her team needs.
You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can try to help.
23. I Have Only One Year Programming Experience And That Was Over 3 Years Ago As I Did Not Work Because I Was Raising My Kids. I Am Looking For Remote Job. What Advice Or Tips Can You Give On How To Land A Job Digital Ocean. Overall I Have 9 Years Of Experience In It.
Depending on which specific area you are interested in.
Volunteer, contribute to open source, do your own side projects and put them on Github.
24. Interested In Hearing About What DO Is Looking For In Terms Of Coming In With Experience In Their Specific Tools Vs Training
Typically we do not look for knowledge in specific tools or a specific programming language we are using and we expect a learning curve.
25. My Experience Is Mis, Finance, And Project Management. I Do Not Currently Hold An Engineering Degree, However, I Am Interested In Several Other Positions, Such As The Associate Customer Success Account Manager Position.
I recommend you apply directly. If you need any help or advice, email email@example.com and a recruiter will respond to you!
26. What types of side projects would DO be interested in seeing by potential candidates?
It very much depends on the team.
27. What key qualities does DO look for in employees?
"We want people to have opinions and to express them, however we are looking for humility, ability to listen to others and consider that you might not always be right." - Limor
"I look for someone who is passionate about what they work on and get excited about new technical challenges." - Alexis
Working at Digital Ocean
1. Are all of the positions at DigitalOcean remote?
No, not of our jobs are remote. If you look at our careers page you will see location information listed under each job title. While the majority of our positions are open to remote applicants, some are specific to a particular office location. DigitalOcean headquarters is located in NYC in the heart of Soho. We also have offices in Cambridge, MA and Palo Alto, CA.
2. What are the typical/expected working hours at Digital Ocean? Do you need to be available at certain times/in a particular timezone? How Do You Handle Balance Between Work And Life, Especially For People Who Have Children?
We are pretty flexible, we do not have a specific time frame in a day you have to be working, however we do want to make sure every team member gets face time with the team on a daily basis, so as long as there is daily overlap we are good.
We do have a lot of flexibility with the working hours. Therefore, if I need to pick up my kids from school, take them to the dr. or anything else that pops up, I make sure to either block my calendar or notify my teammates.
3. What Support Do You Receive From Digital Ocean To Make Sure You Are Able To Work Remotely In A Successful Manner?
We each get a workstation sent to our home that includes a monitor, mouse and keyboard.
We have the right tools we need to get the job done and keep the communication channel, some of the tools we use extensively are slack and google suite. In our offices each meeting room is equipped with a TV and a chrome box so you can connect to the google meet from the office as well.
4. Are There Any DigitalOcean Employees Who Work Remotely Outside Of The Us?
Yes, we have employees around the world, mostly in the US and Canada, but also in Europe and India.
5. Does The Company Have A "Slack Code Of Conduct"? Haha For Example: Only Use @Channel If Something Is On Fire.
We do not have a Slack Code Of Conduct. Best practices are using @channel for emergencies.
6. How About Career Tracks? Do You Have An Engineer Track That Takes You To Staff Or One For Managers?
We do have Individual Contributor vs Management career tracks. Also we do allow a move from one career track to another.
7. How Are New Remote Employees Trained? Describe Your On-boarding Process. What Kind Of Mentorship Does DO Provide? ....What does the on-boarding, training, and integration of new people look like?
New hire on-boarding sessions are held every Tuesdays at our HQ in NYC. New hires spend their first week in NY learning about how to navigate DigitalOcean. After general on-boarding, new hires begin team specific on-boarding. Checkout my article on DO's employee experience.
Each team has their own on-boarding process, we have a lot of documentation for each team to make it easier for a new hire to get up to speed. In addition to that each team will make sure the new hire is paired by someone from the team to help him/her getting up to speed quickly.
8. How Do Engineers Work Together Remotely? Do They Pair Program Or Mostly Work Independently?
It depends on the team. We do use slack quite intensively for daily communications. Teams meets via google meet on a daily or weekly basis depending on the team. And there are ad-hoc google meet depending on the need.
9. How Does Digital Ocean Determine If A Position Should Be Remote Or Not? I See A Data Scientist Position Listed As Not Remote But A Data Engineering As Remote. Is That Team Specific Or Does Any Listing Have The Opportunity To Be Remote?
It depends on the team and their needs. It is a decision the hiring manager makes.
10. How Does Engineering Work With Creatives, Product Designers?
For each project we have a designer assigned and the designer is working closely with the engineering team as well as with the product team.
11. How Does The Friday Chat accommodate Different Time Zones?
The Friday chat we have in Compute is mostly accommodating US time zone, as it is happening typically Friday afternoons.
12. How many employees does DigitalOcean have?
We have just reached 500!
13. Is it harder to assimilate into a company when working 100% remotely? What are some tips you have for someone going into a remote role for the first time?
I personally do not think so. You can read an article I wrote where I provide tips for working remotely.
14. Is remote work an option for early career <5 years for engineering? Or do you prefer experienced people for remote work?
Absolutely possible. If you do not have any experience at all, it will be easier for you to start working from an office than starting to work remotely.
15. Is Digital Ocean remote worldwide or just US based?
We hire remotely in the United States and Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.
16. Many Companies That Are All Remote Or Have A Significant Number Of Remote Positions Have An Annual Retreat For Everyone To Get Together In Person. Does Do Have Anything Like That?
Yes, we do have an annual all company event called "Shark Week" when the entire company meets for a week. We also have team offsite meetings from time to time where teams meet up in NY or other locations to collaborate, plan and create.
17. Specifically how does everyone set-up times that work for everyone to work together at specific hours? Or do you work by yourself most of the time?
We trust our people to manage their time, we do not micromanage working hours. The only thing that is important for us is that there will overlap with the team.
The question about working by yourself most of the time depends on the position.
Someone at a leadership role will have more interactions than an individual contributor. Although we do have a lot of engagement between team members and no one works completely by themselves.
18. The current company I work for (remotely) 200-250 hours a month, what is a typical amount of work time a month?
Generally speaking, we don't have a typical amount of work time per month but most of my colleagues work around 45 - 50 hours per week.
19. What about training programs or courses? Are there learning resources available? What about tuition reimbursement?
We do support learning and career growth. We do have an education budget for training, conferences and higher education.
20. What do you love best about the company products and vision of the company since you've been there for +3yrs?
I love our engagement with the developer community and the passion about helping developers and shipping products which make their life simpler.
21. What is the male/female ratio...roles wise? Equal distribution on the teams...with the same roles? 50\50 engineers on a team?
We wish we had 50% representation in terms of gender diversity in engineering and across the company! We are still very much a work in progress when it comes to increasing representation from all under-represented groups.
22. What is the ratio of remote workers to office workers for DO as a whole?
Almost 50% of our employees are remote.
23. What is the turnover rate at DO?
We don't publicly disclose our attrition rate but it's consistent with other tech companies of our size and age!
24. What kind of clients do you have?
Our customers vary from single developers, such as students, hobbyists, indie developers, to startups and SMBs, and development teams in larger enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.
25. What resources do you get for setting up your home work environment?
We have a workstation program which includes a monitor, keyboard and mouse of your choice sent to your home, we also have a headphone program, you can purchase headphones of your choice and expense up to $100
Webinar-Specific Questions & Responses to Feedback
1. Are All Of The Panelists From Strictly Engineering/Programming Backgrounds?
Specifically, for this webinar all the panelists were from engineering background
2. Will Any Follow Ups Be Made to Invite Webinar Attendees to Apply or Interview for Roles?
We received the list of webinar attendees from PowerToFly and our recruiting team will look at the list and contact any attendees they find relevant to our open positions. In addition to that, feel free to contact us directly. You can reach out to me also at firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Can YouShow An Example Of What The Client Side Sees As A Product Of Ui Ux, Or How We Deal With The Client Side Protocols As Far As Product Base And What It Particularly Does?
I am not sure I understand the question. Feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com and I will try to help
4. Do.Co/Candidates Has Lots Of Resources For How We Evaluate Candidates, How To Prepare For Interviews At Do, And More. Not Tech Specific But A Good Resource Nonetheless!
I am not sure exactly what you are looking for, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Does Digital Ocean Have A Returning Mom Program? I Was an IT Manager For A Trading Firm And Took A Break For Some Time And Thinking Of Returning Back To Work. There Are Lot Of Companies That Have This Program, But Looking For Something Remote.
We do not currently have a specific program for returning mom, you can look at our careers page and if there is any open position that you feel like can be a fit for you, please reach out to us. Feel free to email me directly at email@example.com
6. Excellent And Impressive Information, Overview, Panelists. What Are The Top 3 Open Remote Non-tech/Non-engineering Positions At DigitalOcean?
Look at our careers page for details on all of our open positions.
7. Good Morning Beautiful Sisters ~ Great Information! What About Project Management Positions?
Look at our careers page for details on all of our open positions.
8. Hearing From These Ladies Have Sparked My Interest In The Company. I Appreciate Their Time And Candor.
Thank you for your feedback, we appreciate your participation at the webinar.
9. Hi! I'm A Quantitative Researcher And Analyst Who Is Looking To Transition From A More Academic Context To A Business Context. I See That DO Says They Hire For Potential And Raw Talent. How Are Things Like Career Transitions Or Shifts From Academia Handled At Do?
It is hard for me to answer without specific information about you, feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to help you.
10. How Did You Know The Abuse Blacklist That Was Faulty Handle The Client That Was Not Really Abusive And Blacklisted
I am not sure I understand what's being asked here. Feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com and I will try to get your questions answered by our security team.
Sneha: Was this in reference to the tech-talk?
11. I Can Imagine How Big The Blessing Is If You Have Infant And You Can Work Remote
12. I Have Worked Remotely For 2 Years At A Non-remote Friendly Company. Hearing This Is Refreshing.
We are happy to hear that!
13. Is the reason the tech talk was about monitoring, is this the type of roles do is currently looking for?
There was no specific reason, we felt it is an interesting topic that the audience will be interested in hearing about.
Sneha: Yep! I thought this is simply an interesting topic given the sheer volume of services we have powering the cloud.
Engineering/Cloud Computing Specific Questions
1. Does DigitalOcean's Observability Team Offer A Federated Logging Product? (For Example, If A Company Is Sitting On DigitalOcean Products For Infrastructure, Is There A Place To Access A Global Log That Contains Everyone's Logging Across All Applications And Apis? :) If Not, Do You Think You Will See Such A Product In The Pipeline?
We do not offer a logging product.
2. Does The Load Balancer Consider Types Of Users Or It Is User Agnostic?
Load Balancer is user agnostic.
3. How Do Your Products Differ From AWS Offerings?
AWS offerings dozens of IaaS and PaaS offerings, and DigitalOcean offers a subset of those, primarily - Droplets (VMs) and related storage, networking offerings, Spaces (object storage), DBaaS PostgreSQL, Kubernetes, etc. The primary differentiator DigitalOcean provides is the simplicity of its packaging and pricing, ease of use (both UI and APIs), supported by a strong community of tutorials, articles and excellent support.
4. I Know The Company Is Still Relatively Young, But Have Any Of Your Teams Experienced An Aging Tech Stack? How Have You Seen The Organization Respond To How Quickly Tech Changes. (I.E. New Front End Frameworks Every Few Years)
As in any company, we do have technical debt which we are constantly working on improving. We do have some "legacy" code in production that has served us for many years. In recent years we have made a pretty aggressive transition from ruby/rails monolith to a Golang microservice approach. And now we're also looking at our frontend tech stack and evaluating what our next steps will be to modernize how we deliver client experiences. As we already have such an established (and large) product we are not planning a big rewrite but will continue to extract and update functionality where it makes sense and deliver our new product experiences using modern tools and tech. I think the key is to create architectures that enable us to bring along the "legacy" as we move forward with the new.
5. Internally Does The Company Itself Use Its Own Observability Products?
Internal observability is not handed by customer facing products. We have four main internal observability systems that cover metrics, logging, distributed tracing and error management. Three of these services (metrics, logging, and error management) are a combination of open source software and internally developed software. Distributed tracing is a combination of in house developed software and a third-party service (Lightstep).
6. Is agile methodology followed in the software development process at DigitalOcean?
Yes, Agile is the primary development methodology used at DigitalOcean, although there is variance from team to team as to the maturity of the implementation/usage.
7. What's the advantage/difference of DigitalOcean Droplet & Virtual Machine if any?
DigitalOcean Droplets have multiple advantages over competing IaaS providers. DigitalOcean is well known for its ease of use, with a simple UI and easy to understand pricing and packaging of its offerings, excellent documentation and an extremely large supporting set of tutorials and community articles. Additionally, DigitalOcean Droplets all comes with SSD storage as standard, and in various 3rd party benchmark testing, they achieve industry leading price-performance in many categories (CPU-Memory performance, read speeds, etc.)
Tiffany Witwer from Elastic is a proud mom of three.
“I enjoy being a parent because it teaches me patience and it gives me a different perspective,” she shares. “It allows me to be more present, laugh more, and appreciate the small things.”
In between her duties as a mom, she keeps herself mentally and physically healthy by running, biking, swimming, or doing yoga — all activities that help her start the day with gratitude. "It gives me the right perspective and attitude to go into the day,” she says.
With an overall positive outlook on life, Tiffany brings that same energy to her customers at work as the Head of Customer Service for Elastic.
We sat down with Tiffany, who shared with us her career journey from civil engineering to customer service. Keep reading to learn top tips for creating happy customers.
Starting a Career in Engineering
Tiffany pursued an undergraduate degree in biological engineering.
“I was always really good at math and science, especially chemistry. And I love being outside in nature and learning about it,” she shares.
It was a college professor’s research on stormwater runoff that motivated her to pursue her master's degree in biological and civil engineering. “I liked his energy and attitude toward learning. It was contagious,” she describes.
While working alongside this professor at North Carolina State University, she presented her work at a conference that helped lay the groundwork for her career. “I met a man who liked my presentation," she says, "and was hiring a civil engineer for a consulting company.”
Taking on this new opportunity, she moved to New York City where she discovered her love of being surrounded by diverse people and cultures, in addition to her new job.
“I enjoyed doing the design work and meeting the customers,” she explains. "I was always the one on the proposals, winning the design work, and building relationships with customers.”
While emerging in the complex realm of storm waste engineering, Tiffany saw how the world was progressing and thought that knowing software and technology would be beneficial.
“So I learned to code, networked, and got a job at a business analytics and software company as a pre-sales systems engineer,” Tiffany says.
Pivoting into a Customer Success Role
As she dedicated more time to customers, her interest in working with them soon began to increase. “What I loved most was that I was using my mind to solve problems, but I also got to interface with customers. I got to meet customers and hear what they were doing and hear how we could help them.”
Tiffany spent 10 years in pre-sales engineering and sales. She then took a job in a different company where she helped build out their advisory services business.
It was there that she built a successful team with coworkers who would lead her to her position at Elastic.
Elastic is the leading platform for search-powered solutions. They help enhance customer and employee search experiences, keep mission-critical applications running smoothly, and protect against cyber threats.
As the Head of Customer Service, Tiffany is responsible for making sure customers are getting the most value out of their software. "It's not only about how customers are using the technology," she explains. "It’s, ‘how is a customer's experience with Elastic? Are we meeting their need for technology?’ And, ‘are we meeting their needs from a support and empathy standpoint?’”
In order to meet her customers’ complex needs, she emphasizes how crucial communication is.
The Importance of Communication in Customer Success
Quality communication is a skill that can often be undervalued. “I think people underestimate how much time is needed for clear communication,” she points out. “Just because you put a message out there, it doesn't mean it’s clearly understood. You need to think through how people are going to respond to the information.”
With the complexities of communication, Tiffany relies on setting clear intentions when communicating in meetings. “I always ask at the beginning, ‘what is your goal for this meeting and what does success look like for you?’" she explains.
Communicating clearly what success looks like for both parties allows for a better outcome. “I think for communications, it's making a lot of time and clearly defining what you want to get out of the interaction.”
Advice for Clear Communication with Customers
Tiffany’s career journey has been a mixture of understanding technology and building relationships with people — learning how to explain the technology to customers and problem solve in an empathic way. This has led to overall customer success. To create clear communication, Tiffany offers this advice.
- Be empathetic and listen to your customers: “If you think about it, you've been trained in your technology, you know it inside and out,” she explains. "But when you meet with a customer, the technology may only be a small part of their job.” Taking this perspective can help you to communicate with more empathy. “It's understanding people's vantage point and then using that to communicate to them.”
- Defining success and clearly communicating it: “I'm a strong believer in getting on calls and confirming the goals and what people want to get out of the call," Tiffany shares. "This way, you know, you are aligned on what success is no matter what type of call.”
- Be genuine: “At the end of the day, people will remember how you made them feel," she shares. "I think for me, it's about being a good human and making the world a better place. And if you can do that in your job as well, that's a win-win.”
- Get to know people: “Getting to know people, their perspectives, and growing with them is what has led me to customer success and to where I am in my career,” Tiffany advises.
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
Josephine Roh loves brunch. Particularly hosting it — and bringing special dishes to life to share with her friends.
The latest recipe she’s mastered is for lemon ricotta pancakes.
Cooking is part art and part science, which might be why the senior technical writer for fintech platform Moov is such a big fan of it.
“I’ve always liked using both sides of my brain,” says Josephine, who studied English literature in college, in line with her right-brain strengths, but also added an economics major to sharpen the analytical left side of her brain. She credits this double-barreled approach with setting her up well for her current career.
“It prepared me to be a holistically well-rounded person when it comes to how I think and work,” she says.
We sat down with Josephine to hear more about how she found her way into a career in technical writing, as well as the tips and tricks she has for people interested in following in her footsteps.
A Career Exploration
Josephine started her tech career in customer success at an edtech startup. “It was great training because at a startup you wear lots of hats,” she recalls, noting experiences in user research and operations. After trying a more quantitative-heavy role that gave her exposure to fintech, she realized she wanted something more creative, with an innovative, distributed company.
That’s how she found Moov.
“I was looking for a place with a remote-first culture, and Moov stood out. Some places were hybrid, or said, ‘Maybe we’ll go back to the office,’ but Moov originated without an office and intended to stay that way,” she says. “But I didn’t want it to just be remote — I also wanted it to be very human.”
To Josephine, that meant a culture of coworkers getting to know each other, respecting each other, and caring about each other — which is how she’s experienced Moov’s culture.
“There’s a lot of mutual understanding,” she says. “Something kind of sweet Moov does is this monthly “unbemoovable” meeting where someone shares their story, with pictures, to the extent that they want to. We’ve heard a lot of nontraditional, exciting stories, including from career switchers, and it lends itself to an angle of diversity and creativity that feels like a very healthy, human-first culture.”
Her first few months on the job were spent learning about the product, coming up the curve on technical writing, and pulling together documentation. After finishing the first set of docs, Josephine decided to start focusing on making Moov’s documentation better.
Her manager saw and appreciated Josephine’s initiative and promoted her to senior technical writer, which made her feel like she had chosen the right environment for her growth.
“Moov has let me run with this, building our docs from the ground up because there wasn’t red tape. There weren’t people standing in my way saying, ‘No, this is not how you do it.’ Me being comfortable with that ambiguity and trusting that people like my manager were supporting me, allowed me to be able to grow in my career to where I am now,” she says.
Technical Writing: An Intro and 5 Tips
Josephine explains what technical writing is by referencing a multi-layered puzzle. “You have to understand a certain level of technical stuff, then be able to build a translation layer and explain it in a way that anyone can understand,” she says.
“It’s about writing guides and documents that help developers implement or integrate with different software. It requires some level of knowledge of how developers think and speak, as well as the tools that they're going to be using to make things happen.” That can take the form of API-heavy reference documents, which are more technical, or more “prose-y guides” that explain more holistically what a feature is and how to use it.
Here’s what Josephine recommends to others interested in the field:
- Make sure you have the right skill set. “Tech writing is good for folks who like writing, and don't mind writing about things that they don't yet understand, who are comfortable with ambiguity or diving into the challenge of learning something new and very specific.” Other key skills, per Josephine: interviewing, talking to people, process management, research, relationship building, editing, writing (duh!), and empathy (to imagine the final product from different audiences’ points of view).
- Brush up on key tools. “I’d recommend that future tech writers learn the suite of tools they’d work with. It’s almost imperative that you would know Markdown, which is kind of like HTML, but it's the language that formats text. It’s what most tech writers type in, basically. It would be good to know how API references are generated, too, and also helpful to know how to work with GitHub.”
- Interview other tech writers! “People are super open to talking about their experiences and because it's different at every company, you may want to get a more holistic perspective and talk to a couple of people. The company really makes or breaks your experience.”
- Practice, practice, practice. “Look at the world of open source. If you want hands-on experience, look for a project with incomplete documentation and ask the owner if you can help with documenting it!”
- Find communities to learn with. Josephine says that the online technical writing community is active and generous. “There are communities for any question you might have about tech writing, as well as free resources. I definitely recommend them.” As far as specific resources and communities go, Josephine personally suggests the following:
- Google’s Technical Writing Courses
- Git and its own reference documents
- The Product is Docs: Writing technical documentation in a product development group, a book by the Splunk Documentation Team
- The Write The Docs Slack community, with job postings, recommendations, and channels for sharing other resources
💎To make a successful career move, you need to follow some steps. Watch the video to the end to get ideas on how to achieve it!
📼Wondering how to make a non-traditional career move? Play this video to get three top tips that will guide you through the process. You'll hear from Lindsay Syhakhom, Cloud Solutions Architect at Logicworks, who shares her own experience in moving from a non-technical role into a technical role.
📼 Make a career move inside your company! Tip #1: Cross team boundaries. Volunteer for tasks that cross teams at your current organization. A lot of people assume that to change careers, they also have to change employers. And that's not always the case. You can lay the foundation at your current job for the career that you want to have. Look for teams in your organization that either partially align or even fully align to the position that you want. And then think of creative ways to interface with that team.
📼 Make a career move using your institutional knowledge! Tip #2: Become the expert. If you are applying to another team in your same company, one of the advantages to your company hiring you versus hiring somebody else is that you know what the company sells, you know how teams function and take seriously that that institutional knowledge is very important. Every company has its quirks. Knowing those things is going to help you when you're applying for the next job.
Make A Career Move Confidently! - Tip #3: Ask For What You Want
Before she applied to become a cloud solutions architect, Lindsay Syhakhom had conversations with members of her team and reached out to people on other teams at Logicworks that she really trusted and had the conversation with them first. This helped take the edge off of her first conversation with HR, and with a hiring manager about her desire to move into this other field, and get their feedback. Remember that you have to apply for the job. No one can read your mind and know that you want to make this non-traditional career move!
📨 Are you interested in joining Logicworks? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Lindsay Syhakhom
If you are interested in a career at Logicworks, you can connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Logicworks
Logicworks helps customers migrate, run, and operate mission-critical workloads on AWS and Azure with security, scalability, and efficiency baked in. Their Cloud Reliability Platform combines world-class engineering talent, policy-as-code, and integrated tooling to enable customers to confidently meet compliance regulations, security requirements, cost control, and high availability.