Pair Programming - Mentoring Tips, Techniques, & Benefits
Below is an article originally written by Jess Stodola, Developer published on March 11, 2021. This article is about PowerToFly Partner Headway. Go to Headway's company page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
What is pair programming?
Pair programming as a general practice is in its infancy, but the concept has been around for some time. It started with John Von Neummann in the early 1900s. He asked others to review his code, and since then there have been a number of research papers and books written on how to do it effectively.
Pair programming is often a topic that makes people shudder. It places people in vulnerable states as someone else peers over their shoulder as they work.
If you loathe the thought of pair programming, I can relate. When I first started pair programming, it was frustrating and stressful. However, after pair programming regularly with over 10 people for a number of years it eventually grew on me. And, as a result, I've experienced the long-term benefits of this technique.
In this article, we'll cover the benefits of Pair Programming, the different styles used, techniques to mentor well, and some helpful tips to set everyone up for success.
The benefits of pair programming
Here are some specific benefits of engaging in pair programming.
Prevents knowledge silos
When every member of a team has that few things they are really good at, it creates knowledge silos. Life happens - so if someone is ill, takes a vacation, or leaves the team, it leaves the other developers on a team with a large knowledge gap.
It is also important to understand how other parts of a project work together, as it can give better insight into how what you are working on affects the bigger picture.
Builds better relationships
When you work singularly on projects, it can be easy to isolate yourself from the people you work with. Add in the ever-increasing option to work remotely, and it's easy to go days (even weeks) without really interacting with your team members. Pair programming gets you involved with other members of your team, helping to build better relationships with one another.
Expands your knowledge
"You don't know what you don't know." There is so much to know in this industry that it is nearly impossible to know everything. Even when you think you have something completely figured out, boom - a new update. Sure, you may be the mentor…but there is also the potential for you to learn something from the junior developer.
When you explain how to do something out loud, you in turn learn there are things even you didn't fully understand. Plus, the learner may not understand the first way you explain something. So having to communicate differently in order for someone else to understand requires you to really understand the topic well…and to re-examine your understanding of it if you're struggling to explain it.
Two are better than one
On that point, two minds are better than one. Two sets of eyes give more opportunities to keep an eye out for errors, bugs, missteps, and refactoring opportunities. It really is helpful to have a second perspective.
When someone is watching you code, you are less likely to take shortcuts, which - no surprise - produces better code.
Pair programming styles
So what are the different styles for pair programming?
- Both parties have comparable skills and knowledge backgrounds
- Common practice is to pass the keyboard or screen back and forth
- Mentor is the driver, takes on a more of a teaching role
- Learner takes the backseat, and observes the mentor
- Mentor is the navigator, giving guidance to the learner
- Learner takes the wheel, doing more of the execution
Barriers to mentoring
Remember playing with legos? (hey, maybe some of you still do)!
Whenever we built our ultimate masterpiece, it took a copious amount of time and we beamed with pride at our creation. If anyone wanted to touch it or change it… no way! You were possessive of it. And if someone wanted to give input halfway through, it could feel as though it wasn't yours completely.
We've all had a thing that we don't want to share with anyone else in the world - our most prized possession. That thing we waited forever to get or the thing we worked really hard to make.
Why don't we want to share?
- We don't want others to break it
- We don't want others to change it - no longer feels like ours work
- We don't want to feel ashamed of how much we care about something
What does this have to do with the developer world?
Well, code is treated by developers like their most treasured possession.
- If someone changes it, it doesn't feel like ours anymore
- If someone is looking on while we are creating, we feel vulnerable
- If someone starts picking it apart before we've had a chance to parse through the logic...emotions rise up. We start to feel sad, angry, and even overwhelmed and panicky.
See the similarity?
Our code is really not all that different to our lego creations.
So how do we move forward, and overcome this barrier? Let's take a look at some techniques we can incorporate into our mentoring journey.
Techniques to mentor well
Many times, people mean the best. No one sets out to intentionally offend someone, or cause tension. But there's a lot that a mentor can do unintentionally in a pair programming duo that can negatively affect the learner. By making a few adjustments, mentors can improve the success of the person they are mentoring.
Have you ever noticed that you misspell words more often when someone is watching? Or trip over your words, or lose your place?
Be mindful that the person you are pairing with is nervous. It's going to take time before they are comfortable working with someone watching them. It can be especially nerve-racking if you've never paired before.
Think back to the very first time you did pair programming. It may have been challenging to work with someone peering over your shoulders - watching your every keystroke, commenting when you misspelled something or forgot necessary punctuation. If it wasn't fun for you, it's not fun for them.
Let them drive
As developers, we are makers of things - we are doers. And as doers, it is hard to take a back seat and take on the role of the teacher instead. Because in order to figure out a solution to a problem, we typically figure out by trying, failing, trying other things, and finally (hopefully) succeeding.
As a mentor, it can be difficult to convert your thought process into words. It seems logical to make yourself the driver, and figure out the problem so you can show the learner how to do it, right?
But when we do this, we take control of learning out of the learner's hands.
It slows the entire process down, for a few reasons:
- By introducing multiple screens, it can be hard to keep track of all the steps
- If you take over and start trying to explain, the learner may not get everything you are saying - everyone processes words at different speeds
- It's hard for the mentor to know if what they are teaching is actually being understood, because people do not feel comfortable speaking up when they don't understand something
Yes, it takes longer. Yes, they will take the wrong turns. And yes it requires a lot of patience. But…letting them make the mistakes, even though it's a bit like watching a train wreck happen, is exactly how they learn for the long haul.
Have you every wondered why sometimes it's so hard to speak up? To ask questions?
One explanation is that it's an automatic confession that we don't know something - we view asking for help as a sign of weakness. Everyone else seems to know how to do it, so why don't we? Or maybe we're afraid someone is going to think less of us for not knowing. In our industry, our knowledge is often seen as our status.
A simple approach to combatting this is by encouraging questions.
- "Do you have questions?"
- What questions do you have?
- Do you remember how to do…?
- Should we go spend more time going over the background for...?
These encourage dialogue and further learning, rather than putting someone on the spot to come up with a question, or to bury their insecurities by asking no questions at all.
A big step is to also lead by example. Don't being afraid to let others see you ask questions or research things when you don't know something.
Give good directions
As a mentor, there is a lot of internal logic happening - but it isn't always shared.
Do I go right?
Do I go left?
Do I turn around all together?
So when the mentor is driving, it can be difficult for someone who is not knowledgeable about the subject to follow along and understand all that is going on and why.
Think about getting driving directions - how difficult is it to follow someone's directions when you are unfamiliar with an area? Now imagine the person giving directions changes their mind halfway through, and says to take a different way instead. Talk about disorienting…odds are very high you are going to get lost.
Now change the scenario to an area you are comfortable in, like your neighborhood. If someone starts giving directions and then changes their mind halfway through, you can easily reconfigure the path.
Explain the why
Laying out the path from thought conception to completion is vital in teaching problem-solving. When that is hidden from the learner, they don't know how you got from Point A to Point B. For instance, when we sit down to figure out a problem, a lot of paths are considered, most of which are wrong. But we don't discuss these wrong paths, because…what is the point?
But being wrong is half of the learning process.
It's helpful to ask:
- What was it that initially made you think that path was a viable option?
- How did you determine that it was actually the wrong path?
It is difficult to go back and explain that thought process afterward. Because all of these steps and turns are important to solving problems, developers need to know why certain decisions weren't a good idea - so when it fails, they understand why.
Strengthen their confidence
Here's a scenario - the mentor and learner run into a code problem. But instead of working through it together, the mentor figures out the problem on his/her own then tell the learner what to do. How confident will the learner feel, being cut out of the whole process? Not to mention, it feels a bit like cheating - being given the answer, without doing the work.
No one wants to call something their own when someone else did it for them. And frankly, it feels pointless for the learner to duplicate the work that the mentor just did. You can build the learner's confidence by letting them problem-solve alongside you.
It's not always easy
Have you ever used these phrases when teaching something new?
"It's really quite simple."
"All you have to do is…"
"Just go here and do…"
"It's pretty easy."
The word "simple" is defined as something that is easily understood or done or composed of a single element. However, when we do something for the first time, rarely is it ever simple. It's easy to use this description in an attempt to make something less intimidating.
But when you've been told that something was easy - and it's actually not - that is even more intimidating and can make you feel like you're not capable. It also feeds into Imposter Syndrome that is prevalent in the developer industry.
Have you ever been given a task that you know very little about - and suddenly feel like you know nothing in comparison to those around you? Thinking things like:
- "I should know this...why don't I?"
- "What if someone finds out that I really don't know that much about this?"
Or have you received a compliment about work you've done and felt like you just didn't deserve it? As if there are others out there that are more deserving? Did you chalk it up to timing, luck, or maybe that you had secretly conned those around you?
Imposter Syndrome (aka Fraud Syndrome) is feeling like you:
- Are a fraud
- Don't deserve the success you've achieved
- Know so little in comparison to those around you
It's surprising the number of people who relate heavily with imposter syndrome - especially senior developers and engineers who don't feel like they deserve the recognition for the things that they have achieved.
Yes, our work is challenging. But be mindful not to downplay the complexity of it. It can go a long way in reducing the imposter syndrome that someone may be feeling.
Don't be afraid to tell them when something is challenging - to tell them that it took you years to understand something fully.
You did not learn everything in one day, one month, or even one year. It was a process to get to where you are now. It can be comforting to know others have struggled with the same concept and it can go a long way in relieving any stress or anxiety that they may be feeling.
When a learner is able to do the work from start to finish - how to get from Point A to Point B - they are given an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. When no steps or hidden logic paths are left out, they have everything they need to make an informed decision.
Think about how empowering it is to be able to finish something that you started, to learn from your mistakes, to see progress, to learn new tools, and to become more independent and confident in your skills. As the mentor, you can make that happen.
Tips for a successful pairing session
Send materials in advance
Send some helpful articles or tell them what to research before pairing up if you can. Having some base knowledge will make the learning process go much smoother - not to mention you will have less to explain, making the time together more effective.
Plus, providing materials in advance will make them feel more confident in having some knowledge of the new thing they are learning.
It is easy to burn out - for both parties. Mentoring takes an immense amount of patience, and learning takes a lot of brainpower.
It's helpful to aim for at least 1 break every hour, to keep everyone fresh and focused.
Let them make mistakes
While it is hard to sit there and stay quiet when you know why something is broken, making mistakes is pivotal to the learning process. Try to give them the opportunity to figure it out on their own.
If you need to, write it down so you can get it out of your system or refer to it later.
As the mentor, it's on you to take the lead on communication. Ask if they are struggling to understand something. If you sense confusion, try rewording what you are saying. Sometimes simplifying a concept or relating it to something they already know can help.
And realize that there are a lot of words that a junior developer has not heard or does not understand yet. Using overly complex terminology can make a concept that is already challenging to understand seem nearly impossible.
Keep it simple. There will be time for the industry jargon later.
Set realistic goals
While it's tempting to have big aspirations, try to get through smaller chunks of logic. This gives more time to explain why you are doing something and allows time for questions or extra practice.
Understand their learning style
Knowing how a person learns is important when teaching new skills. Many of us are likely a combination of these styles, but we all lean toward one as our dominant.
This group learns best when they able to reference images, videos, articles, etc. An example of this would be giving materials for them to review ahead of time.
This group learns best through listening to the information - think podcasts, lectures, and one-on-one conversations.
This group learns best through note-taking and going through the motions of a particular task. For them, these activities help the knowledge stick.
"You don't know what you don't know." Simple, yet true. As the mentor, you don't know if they don't understand something unless they tell you they don't know. Building the habit of encouraging questions at the outset will help provide a transparent environment.
Have them do their own research
At the end of the day, you can only teach them so much.
If they are going to be successful engineers, they have to be willing to go out and find the answers for themselves.
- Point them to Google, StackOverflow, or GitHub research papers and articles. If they struggle with finding their own, trying giving them links in the beginning. There is a treasure trove of information out there.
- Encourage them to mess around with the code, to make changes. Let them know, as long as they are on their own branch in development, they can't break anything.
- Encourage them to look at the Source code to see how it works.
And if you have special tricks you do to learn something new, share that with them - you never know if it may work for them too.
Pair programming tools
Here are some good screen sharing applications for pairing remotely or between desks:
No lagging issues, and you can use multiple screens for camera image, screen sharing, and chat.
Offers chat/video conference, and can be integrated with Google apps like Calendar or Drive.
This platform is all about integration, streamlining meetings and creating fewer emails for all.
In this tool, both people have the ability to control the screen at the same time.
Become better together
Pair programming isn't just about the coding - it's also about building relationships with your team members and learning how to work together. If we can empower our team members by making them more successful, we help build a stronger, more cohesive team.
More pair programming resources
What makes one pair programming session better than another? Check out these discoveries and observations.
Working remote is the norm now, but mentoring from a distance can still have a big impact.
A lot of the techniques covered here can be applied and implemented during future retros.
You've met some of them—maybe they're your family, friends, classmates, or coworkers, or perhaps you identify as neurodivergent yourself.
You may have recognized that some neurodivergent people are exceptionally skilled, excelling in things like pattern recognition and mathematics, and that those skills deserve to be celebrated, as the Harvard Business Review did in their report "Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage" in 2017.
But whether highlighting the significant contributions that neurodivergent employees have made or just honoring who they are as people, we wanted to take a moment this April to share some ways that industry leaders are marking World Autism Awareness Month.
We also want to acknowledge that Autism Speaks, the organization that began World Autism Awareness Month in the 1970s, has had a complicated relationship with the autism community. (Here's a good guide on that context.) We recognize that some prefer to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month, or to align with other organizations' World Autism Awareness activities, like the UN's.
However you decide to "Celebrate Difference"—the Autism Society of America's theme for April 2021—this month, PowerToFly and these 9 companies are celebrating right along with you!
Sharing inclusivity, not stereotypes, at Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies and our Raytheon Alliance for Diverse Abilities (RADA) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is committed to trying to bring focus on invisible disabilities, as they are among the most misunderstood. Autism/neurodiversity isn't a mental illness and we recognize how important it is to bring awareness, be inclusive of everyone and avoid stereotypes. During Autism Awareness Month RADA is featuring a multi-regional presentation about Autism Awareness & Acceptance, as well as neurodiversity overall. The presentation is focused on educational information, including what Autistic people want in terms of inclusion and meaningful work, as well as dispelling common misconceptions."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies.
Hiring a world-class workforce at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
"The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently launched the Neurodiverse Federal Workforce (NFW) pilot program, a collaborative effort between NGA, MITRE, and Melwood. The NFW pilot aims to help government agencies hire neurodiverse talent for U.S. Federal Government agencies. 'NGA mission success is contingent on a world-class workforce with a wide diversity of opinions and expertise,' said NGA Deputy Director Dr. Stacey Dixon. 'Neurodiverse talent can bring new perspectives to the NGA workforce and make important contributions to the mission.' The pilot is a great learning opportunity for NGA to continue to grow and improve our first-class workforce."
Learn more from the podcast "The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Takes Workforce Diversity In A New Direction"
Learn more about the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Supporting each individual's preferred environment at Elastic
"We distribute anonymous surveys that allow anyone, including neurodiverse folks, to address potential barriers that we should address.
Our accessibility working group acts as an employee resource as well as an equity-seeking team that works to create and develop a disability inclusive workplace at Elastic.
The majority of our Elasticians work from home. Our hope is that this empowers neurodiverse employees, including those who may be on the spectrum, to have more control over their environment so that they can manage noise and light sensitivity, control their personal space, and manage their own schedule to reduce anxiety."
Learn more about Elastic.
Pioneering neurodiversity at Freddie Mac
"Freddie Mac values the insights and different perspectives that result from employees bringing their authentic selves to work. Our Office of Inclusive Engagement works with several organizations to identify qualified candidates, consider them for suitable roles and pair them with mentors who can help them adapt to an evolving new normal. In 2020, we evolved our neurodiversity internship initiative into a more robust training, education and hiring process called 'Neurodiversity at Work' to directly place candidates with Autism Spectrum Disorders into full-time roles."
Learn more about Freddie Mac.
Decoding inclusion at MongoDB
"MongoDB supports the neurodivergent community through interview accommodations, providing new hires the opportunity to select equipment and denote special requests, and onboarding checklists broken down into useful sections. To raise awareness about neurodiversity in the workplace, we have a learning and development (L&D) platform which has content on collaborating with different working styles. Our L&D Program focuses on building skills in managing teams inclusively. We also host Decoding Inclusion, a series of events aimed at building community and sharing foundational knowledge about D&I topics, including neurodiversity, to further our understanding of differences."
Learn more about MongoDB.
Encouraging allyship at Folsom Labs
"At Folsom Labs, we are passionate about building a culture of acceptance and inclusion. Our goal is not just to spread autism awareness but to strive to be allies and elevate the voices of those with disabilities. Now more than ever, this is important as many are facing the added weight of mental health and wellness challenges due to the pandemic. Encouraging allyship throughout the community and building a culture where everyone can thrive are at the forefront of our current initiatives. We are proud to celebrate Autism Acceptance Month — to set a stage where we can celebrate our differences and continue to create a space of inclusion and support."
Learn more about Folsom Labs.
Recruiting for diverse problem solvers at Dell Technologies
"Dell's Neurodiversity Hiring Program provides professional development training, internships, and full-time career opportunities for neurodivergent job seekers. The program rethinks the traditional interview process by removing barriers that may limit an individual from fully showcasing their skills and capabilities. Additionally, program participants benefit from job coaching and mentorship provided by our community partners and True Ability ERG members.
A variety of critical positions across the company have been filled through the program. In doing so, we are bringing in diverse perspectives for problem solving that have helped us differentiate ourselves within the marketplace all while cultivating a culture of inclusion."
Learn more about Dell.
Supporting professionals with autism throughout their talent journey at Deloitte
"At Deloitte, everyone contributes to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Our inclusive culture, empowers all of us, including those with diverse abilities, to connect, belong, and grow. Deloitte's Autism@Work program supports our professionals with autism throughout their talent journey. A customized, autism-friendly assessment process helps draw out our candidates' strengths. Our employees have an internal Coach, an Onboarding Advisor, and access to external job coaching. Our Onboarding Mentor/Buddy Program pairs professionals with autism with other Deloitte colleagues/allies. Through Neurodiversity Training, our professionals can help support and manage our differently-abled professionals. We also have our Abilities First Business Resource Group for people with disabilities plus allies."
Learn more about Deloitte.
Sharing stories to support awareness at Lockheed Martin
"Lockheed Martin shares employee stories internally to help others understand Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and hosts internal events to support ASD awareness and education. The Able & Allies business resource group, whose mission is to build an environment that empowers employees with disabilities, has recently partnered with ASD advocacy organizations to offer resources to assist with managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with persons who have ASD and their families. Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) is a member of the Florida Ability Inclusion Network and strives to educate employees and leaders on disabilities and recommend best practices to promote a disability-friendly workplace."
Learn more about Lockheed Martin.
Learn more about our amazing speakers and sponsors at our April 2021 virtual summit Diversity Reboot: Elevating Black Women, three days of conversations and panels plus an interactive virtual career fair.
From everyone here at PowerToFly we want to extend a BIG thank you to everyone who tuned into last week's Diversity Reboot: Elevating Black Women. In case you missed a talk or you'd like to revisit one of our great conversations, don't worry, all of the fireside chats and panels will be available to watch for free on PowerToFly soon.
We were thrilled to present conversations on such important subjects as the racial wealth gap, the importance of affordable child care, how BIPOC youth are leading the way on combatting the climate crisis, the importance of black women in entrepreneurship and business, being an ally for communities outside of your own, plus tech talks, fireside chats with Black woman founders, panels with DEI leaders and much more.
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Honor all work. Come as you are. Show up. Be of service.
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Speaker Spotlight: DEI Book Club Picks!
by Kryss Shane
by Rha Goddess
Thank you to all of our wonderful, amazing speakers! And thank you again for supporting Diversity Reboot 2021 and PowerToFly!
Kate Jhaveri does one thing every day that she suggests you try: belly laughs.
The EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at the NBA credits her two kids with much of that levity—"They're very silly and they, at least once a day, make me laugh out loud," she says—though she seeks to make those lighter connections with her team at work, too.
"Especially at this time, it's so incredibly important to have that perspective with everything that's going on," she says.
We sat down with Kate to hear about her career journey, why she left tech to work in sports, how she led her team through the pandemic, and what advice she has (beyond laughing often) for other women seeking to build fulfilling careers—and communities.
Solving creative problems for different consumers
Growing up, Kate always had a book in her hands. "The ability to tell stories and move people with words and images is something that started with me very young," she says. She thought about parlaying that love of stories into becoming a college professor, but her father encouraged her to try something new before committing to that path.
So she took a job in consulting and immediately loved it. "I really, really loved the problem solving and the ability to see opportunities for different businesses and consumers," she says. Those skills translated well to a job at Dell, where she got to go deep on one set of problems and enjoyed the energy of her fast-paced team of coworkers. "I fell in love with the velocity that was happening in the tech industry and...really getting to know who you are interacting with."
But having focused on English and Spanish literature in college, Kate wanted a chance to shore up her business skill set, so she got her MBA at Tuck, Dartmouth's business school. "It was a good way to refine all of the different ways I could think about business problems and solve them," she says. It also helped her define the kind of job she wanted post-graduation: one as a marketing leader.
"Marketing is where the two halves of me come together: this ability to really think about and problem solve combined with this love of art and creativity and storytelling," says Kate. "I wanted to run a marketing team for a brand that I cared about," she says.
Finding her community with the NBA
When an opportunity to be the NBA's CMO popped up, Kate knew it was the kind of job and the kind of company that aligned with her values. "It's a brand that really seeks to unite people," says Kate of the NBA. "Whether that's through the sport of basketball, or the values we hold around diversity, equity, and inclusion, it's about how can we bring people together and do so with something that makes people feel really joyful."
Her role as CMO includes every aspect of marketing, and Kate likes that challenge. "Marketing is really changing; it's super exciting now, this amazing blend of art and science that gets me excited and gets me out of bed in the morning, thinking through how to talk to consumers in ways that matter to them."
And even though she switched industries from tech to sports, and picked up new lingo to go along with it, Kate has found the transition to be a smooth one. "The organization has been super open to a lot of the ideas that I bring from a different industry and is already super innovative, [so] it wasn't that big of a change," she says.
Kate's approach to marketing, whether for a tech product or for professional basketball, is focused on communities. She's long been fascinated by how communities are created and how they develop, and in her current CMO role, she draws on her own experience feeling part of sports communities, from rooting for the Celtics as a kid in Baltimore to living in Chicago during Michael Jordan's heyday with the Bulls.
"There is no better community than the community of NBA fans," says Kate. "The NBA has done such a great job of building that community and bringing fans in to feel close, not just to the players or the game, but to what the NBA stands for."
Pandemic pivot: standing up with the NBA community
Kate joined the NBA in August of 2019. Seven months later, the world was put on pause—and so was basketball.
The whole NBA found themselves reimagining how a season of professional basketball could look. Kate felt like they had a unique opportunity to bring people together, and that figuring out how to do that in new ways would serve their audience now and in the future, especially since she says that less than 1% of basketball fans ever make it to an arena to see a live game. "One of the most interesting things about [this last year] is that we're all craving community in some way, and whether that's in person or online, we all want human connection," she says.
That community was especially important last summer, when the Black Lives Matter movement took off after a string of extrajudicial police killings of Black Americans. "The absolute tragedy and horrific loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor was a moment where we really could stand with players …[and] our fans," says Kate. As NBA players chose to wear jerseys with social justice messages and the league painted Black Lives Matter on the court, Kate saw it as " incredibly powerful and values-driven."
The NBA's transition to a bubble with games played without live fans meant new opportunities for the marketing team to share content and interact with their communities. "[I'm proud of our] ability in that time to tell a really compelling story about how we had changed the game and how fans could interact with the game specifically to bring them closer," says Kate.
Those new ways of telling stories included professional games of H-O-R-S-E, The Last Dance documentary in partnership with ESPN, trivia games, reruns and new commentary of classic match-ups, and the first-ever 2K Players tournament, not to mention tons of social engagement with the NBA's community of super-engaged fans.
"We really tried to meet what fans needed and wanted, and we learned a lot about what content is super interesting and what platforms are particularly great for individual pieces of content," she says.
So far, her favorite innovation—and one that she plans to bring into the post-pandemic world—has been the digital fans. The NBA created a virtual fan experience where more than 300 fans each game were invited to appear live on the "Michelob ULTRA Courtside" 17-foot-tall video boards surrounding the court, allowing for an atmosphere of cheering (and occasional jeering) even with otherwise empty seats. "It's such a great way to bring people closer," says Kate.
Paying it forward: tips for building your career
Kate has four key tips for other women looking to build careers—and communities—that work for them:
- Remember that your dream role might "hire on hustle." Kate is a builder: "I like to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty," she says. Leaning on her ability to get things done, even with a scrappy team or a limited budget, has been how she's gotten several roles, she says. Focus less on what degree you have or who you know and more on a track record of making things happen.
- Before accepting an offer, ask "Do I want to have a beer with these people?" That's the question Kate makes sure she'd say "yes" to before starting a new role. "You're spending a good portion of your life, whether on Zoom or sitting in the office, with these people. If you aren't really enjoying [them], it makes the job less fun. It's about the passion and the people," she says.
- Once you're in a new role, make sure to speak up and share the ideas that got you there. "For women especially, it is deeply important to not lose your voice. There are times when you may be the only woman in the room, and there are times when that room could be fairly large. It's still really important that you know that you belong there," she says. "Everyone has a little bit of doubt about what they're doing, but don't lose your voice. Have every confidence that you belong at that table. And your ideas are welcome and needed. Otherwise you wouldn't be there."
- As you take on new roles and responsibilities at different companies, be kind to everyone you come across. "Marketing is a small world," says Kate. "You will have the opportunity to cross paths with people again." She says that now, her community of peers is her biggest source of inspiration and continuous learning. "I see where they've gone, they see where I've gone, and we have a connection," she says. "Focus on relationships and individuals, because they will stay with you far longer than you think."
Kiana Labuhn, Recruiter at S&P Global, shares an exclusive take on the most important tips to keep in mind when preparing for an interview.
She talks about how S&P Global looks for candidates that not only fit the skills needed for the role but are aligned with their values.
Kiana stresses the importance of preparing for the interview in advance, first by researching the company and your interviewers and then identifying the core competencies needed for the position—thinking of times when you demonstrated these skills in your past. Have you heard about the STAR model? It's a great tool that Kiana shows us how to use in the video.
"At S&P Global, we will embrace and support the qualities that make each candidate a unique fit. Building and embracing diversity is a priority for us, and we're committed to unleashing the potential of every individual who works with us," Kiana says.
Take a look at her list of resume dos and don'ts and her own experience when preparing for her interview process at S&P Global.
To learn more about S&P Global and their open roles, click here.