She Taught Herself To Code, Then Got A Job At BuzzFeed
What are your job responsibilities?
At BuzzFeed my team’s job is to make the code better and more beautiful, which makes the application work better. It’s exciting because we have new techniques. My background is a bit more on the graphic side. I studied graphic design. I started as a web designer, then I taught myself code, step by step.
What advice would you give other women interested in working remotely?
I would say it’s not as scary as it seems. My friends ask me, “How do you it? You are alone all the time. I need to go out to lunch with my colleagues.” I don’t think it’s like that at all. It depends what kind of person you are. It depends where you’re working. I feel like I’m super lucky. At BuzzFeed, we’re a team of all women and we’re all remote, so that already helps a lot. I never feel like I’m outside the team. We always communicate. Our team leaders rely on us a lot. I never feel alone. I go to a small office in a co-working space with other people. So when no one is online [because of the time difference], I have other people around.
Do you have any strategies for staying efficient outside of an office? What tools do you use?
The first thing I do is open our team chat. (We use Slack.) It’s a way to say, “OK, I’m online and you can contact me.” If people contact you, you’re held accountable. I’ve found the time during the day when I’m most productive, so at that time I try to be at the office or at the table, sitting down. It sounds stupid, but just sitting at the table instead of the sofa helps. We use a task manager, like JIRA. It’s very nice because you already know what your tasks are for the day. You get a lot of notifications, but it’s great because you can really stay in contact, even if you’re not in the same time zone.
What are the biggest challenges when working remotely? How have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is getting to know the system and the product you’re working on without having someone sit next to you. You can’t point out stuff and say, “This is the problem.” Instead, you have to send a screenshot or video. Sometimes when I’m speaking with other remote people, they are frustrated because no one is helping them. I say, “Why don’t you ask?” And they say, “No, I did yesterday.” I can understand. I don’t want to bother people. I would like to show that I can do it alone, but sometimes it’s better to ask ten more questions, instead of losing days of work.
How has this job changed your day-to-day life?
Completely. I can manage my time however I want. For me as a European, usually the companies are smaller and have stricter deadlines. You have to always deliver stuff, even if it is not good. Here [at BuzzFeed] I suddenly find myself able to manage my time better. The quality of my work is more important. It’s helped me to deal with my stress at work, which was something I always struggled with. One thing I noticed in the beginning — I was really surprised — I can work less hours and finish more tasks. I can sit down when I really feel like I want to work, I work very focused (I never open personal emails, Facebook, or anything), and when I’m tired I go home. It’s much better than being in an office for 8 hours every day.
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."
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If you're struggling with perfectionism:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="824ce73e30a279a266a5dd91047dd6f5"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/y58Luzbv_vw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><em>Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a computer programmer looks like and does. Since her viral TED Talk, "Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection" resonated worldwide, Reshma has been on a mission to inspire women to leave socially-ingrained perfectionism behind and rewire themselves for braver, bolder lives. Reshma talked with Zeryn Sarpangal, Chief Financial and People Officer, Code For America, about how women can work to be brave, not perfect, as they look for new opportunities. </em></p>
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