‘Keep Your Head Up, And Keep On Learning’ A Time Inc. Developer’s Advice To New Women In Tech
Mobile Developer Claire Young has spent the past six months working for Time Inc. from the company’s Seattle office. She’s been in the tech field since high school, when her interest in computers led her to declare an undergraduate major in computer science, and she’s never looked back.
PowerToFly spoke with this mom of two about her flexible work schedule and her favorite parts of her Time Inc. team’s culture. Claire’s advice to women interested in tech: “Keep your head up, and keep on learning.”
Please introduce yourself to the PowerToFly community.
My name is Claire, I work at Time Inc. in the Seattle office. I am the main iOS developer in a hybrid app development team here at Time Inc. I am originally from Seattle; my family all lives in the Seattle area. I was away for about nine years in the midwest, and then took a couple years off to have kids, and now Time Inc. is my first full-time job back in Seattle.
Image via Claire Young
How did you get started in tech?
I originally got started in tech such a long time ago. When I was in high school I liked using computers, and I thought going into tech had a lot of potential. I thought it would be fun to write the types of programs, like chat and AOL, that I used at the time.
So I went into undergrad and decided to major in computer science without much more research — which is what I think a lot of people do in any field when they’re that young. But I never looked back, it’s a great field to be in. We could definitely use more women though.
Have you been working on any projects lately at Time Inc. that you’re particularly excited about?
One of the most fun parts of my job is that I work on high profile app products that I release on a very frequent basis. Within my first month and a half at Time Inc., we released an app for Sports Illustrated — which is great in terms of a software development timeline. I’m really proud of the product that we came out with. We released that Sports Illustrated app on iOS and Android, and then a few weeks ago we just also released the Travel + Leisure Travel Guide app. So within my first six months of working at Time Inc., I’ve worked on two very high profile apps. And often times, I personally have been the one to deploy to the app store or submit for review. I’ve been coding as well, but I definitely feel great ownership of the product because often times I was the one to push the button to say, “Push this to the app store. Publish this.”
Screenshots of the travel+leisure travel guide app Claire worked on
Tell us a bit about the work culture at Time Inc. What’s your favorite thing about working there?
I work with a great team of really smart people from very diverse backgrounds, and we have great team culture. It’s really fun to go into work, into the office, just because of all the cool people there. And it’s great to collaborate. I think remote work is great sometimes, but it’s also great to just collaborate with people as well.
Of course there are also a lot of material perks — office happy hours, a fridge well stocked with snacks — but you get the same perks with a lot of other tech companies. I think what really stands out at Time Inc. is the team culture.
Does your position give you a lot of flexibility with your schedule?
I generally work about one day per week from home, which helps a lot. As a mother, there are situations that come up — a kid is sick, or maybe there’s no day care — life comes up, and I just need to work from home. I really enjoy working, but I think it can be difficult for working moms to adhere to a strict 9–5 onsite schedule. For me, I don’t think it would be doable. It’s great that Time Inc. is flexible about working arrangements as long as I get my work done.
You mentioned that you work remotely part of the time. How do you balance these two different work environments while maintaining team cohesion?
Right now, everyone on the team pretty much works on their own schedule. There are a few things you don’t miss, like important meetings throughout the day, but as long as you keep connected and get your work done it’s very flexible. I find that the key to working remotely is to stay connected through chat, video conferencing, and screen share. That way you don’t end up sending 20 emails back and forth before you figure out what’s going on.
For my team, we’re always kind of working remotely because Time Inc.’s main office is in New York — a three-hour time difference. Even when we’re onsite in Seattle, we do a lot of communicating with the New York team. So it’s really important to keep communication lines open with the main office and with each other.
What advice do you have for other women interested in working in tech?
I think the tech field is a great field for women to be in. The first misconception that women tend to have is that programming means working by yourself in an isolated environment and not talking to other people. That’s a false assumption, because programmers often have to work on large software products with a large team of people that all need to get along. So I think the reality of software development is actually better than a lot of the preconceptions that women have before they go into the field.
But as it is now, it’s hard for women to find mentors in the field. A lot of women my age have dropped out of the field and are not coming back. That means that 10, 20 years down the road, the women who would be mentors — senior developers mentoring new, young junior developers — are simply not there any more. I think we need to put more effort into recruiting women into tech so that the next generation can feel more of an even male-to-female ratio in the workforce.
I would also just say, don’t be discouraged. When I first started out taking computer science classes in undergrad, I always felt like I was less smart than some of my male counterparts who were very confident. But confidence is not always equivalent to being right. So don’t get discouraged, keep your head up, and keep on learning.
Looking for a job as rewarding as Claire's? Check out the following positions at Time, Inc. Seattle and Brooklyn offices:
Time, Inc. Brooklyn, NY
Time, Inc. Seattle, WA
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
A five-step framework for addressing systematic racism at work
The world has changed in the past few weeks.
We're watching corporations and organizations across the world come out in support of Black lives in droves. Many of those organizations are doing so for the first time in their history.
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought about a whole host of changes and challenges for workplaces and employees. One of the most notable? Virtual interviewing. With most on-site interviews on hold for the foreseeable future, it's important that you be prepared to make a great first impression—virtually.