San Francisco-based women in sales and customer success were treated to an evening of panel discussions and networking, hosted by PowerToFly and fast-rising startup Scout RFP on April 11th.
Scout is the sourcing and supplier engagement platform trusted by procurement teams to streamline their process, manage a unified pipeline of projects, and collaborate with stakeholders and suppliers to achieve greater business impact. Their clients include Salesforce, Intuit, Fitbit, Zendesk and Zappos.
Our event featured talks with some of the amazing leading women at Scout RFP, who also happened to be some of the very first employees at the company. They recounted how swiftly Scout has grown over the course of the last five years and how it's looking to expand in the future.
The evening kicked off with keynote address by Scout RFP's CRO Jerry Brooner who dove a bit deeper into the company's culture and principals (which includes "don't be an asshole" - it's even written on their wall). Jerry then passed the mic to Debbie Heffernan, Head of Sales Enablement and Allison Yount, Director of Customer Success who both shared their career journeys and experiences working at Scout RFP.
Debbie and Allison then stuck around for a panel discussion, moderated by PowerToFly's Cristina Duke, that also included Roxanna Farshchi, Solutions Engineer and Alex Genetti, HR Manager. The night concluded with more opportunities for our guests to network over refreshments and enjoy each other's company. Scout RFP's founders and CEO were also on hand to answer attendee's questions too.
Scout's values-based culture empowers its "A-Players" to collaborate across teams, advance in career development, and make a noteworthy impact on the company's success. Visit Scout's page on PowerToFly to learn more about the company including and their open roles (which include flexible work options!) Scout's competitive benefits include flexible work schedules, generous PTO, weekly lunches, transit benefits and more.
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
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.
💎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.
Dorcie Lovinsky seeks activities that help bring balance into her life.
“My newest hobby is golf,” she shares. “It's a very technical, chill sport. I would say the yin to my yang.”
Her yang is the ambition and drive that not only fuels her work as Senior Data Manager at Zapier but is also what pushed her to become so successful today.
The daughter of working-class Haitian immigrants, Dorcie had to make her own way into the tech world.
“I feel like it's just been a constant battle throughout my career to feel like I belong because they're not a lot of people that look like me. So my goal is to get more people that look like me into these spaces so that we don't have to do the extra work to feel like we belong.”
We sat down with Dorcie to learn more about how she carved her career path and the advice she gives to those seeking a career in data.
The Ambition to Make Her Way
The results of a high-school Keirsey Temperament Test are all it took for Dorcie to start making career decisions. She carefully analyzed the three it suggested: teaching, philanthropy, and computer science.
“In high school,” she recalls, “I realized that my family are immigrants who never really had a lot of money so I would need to make my own way. I looked at the salaries of all these types of jobs and realized computer science had the highest one. I thought, ‘If this test says I can do it, then I can do it.’”
However, she knew that trying to break into a male-dominated field would mean having to prove herself. So the summer before starting her college computer science program, she saved up all the money she earned as a cheerleading instructor and built her own computer.
“I thought that they weren’t going to take me seriously unless I built a computer,” she explains. “So I built my first computer and that gave me the confidence to feel like I can be in this room now.”
Taking Unexpected Advice
During an internship, she became a PeopleSoft developer, which helped her land her first job out of college.
With work she enjoyed and a nice salary to match, Dorcie was content. However, four years in, something happened that altered the trajectory of her career.
“One day the security guard at my work comes up to me and says that I needed to leave this place because people tend to get comfortable here and that I’d never do better unless I leave.”
Heeding his warning, Dorcie started applying to open positions and found a PeopleSoft development job in Manhattan. “It was really fun because I had always dreamt of working in Manhattan,” she shares gleefully.
Although she was living the dream, she knew that being a PeopleSoft developer offered limited opportunities. “I knew I was going to hit a ceiling quickly,” she explains, “So I started teaching myself iOS and iOS development.”
These new skills soon came in handy when her company began laying off employees.
“I was working for a public company that went private and laid off 80% of its workforce,” she reveals. “I remember walking in and thinking that they would never lay me off, but they laid me off.”
As devastating as losing one’s job can be, Dorice cried tears of relief instead of sadness. “I cried because I was overjoyed that I could finally make that pivot,” she admits. “I can finally do something else.”
Hustling and Teaching
Although she was walking away from job security, Dorcie was excited to explore new opportunities.
“I wanted to do something different,” she explains. “So I taught yoga, Zumba, and cycling because I loved all of those things. I also got a job as an adjunct professor teaching computer science and it was so much fun to get people excited about a topic that they aren’t inherently interested in.”
Dorcie spent two years enriching the lives of others through teaching sports and computer science.
Eventually, the hustling lifestyle became tiresome and Dorcie decided she needed a little more stability.
Pushing into Data
That stability came with a position at a small software company.
“I feel like all throughout my trajectory, I was always doing some kind of work with data,” she reflects. “PeopleSoft was very data-driven. It was almost like an analyst role because you were creating reports.”
However, before transitioning into data engineering, she was met with some barriers.
“At this previous job, they had posted a data engineering role, so I reached out to my manager's manager and said that I wanted it,” she recalls. “But to my face, he told me that I was not qualified.”
Then, when the company claimed to support and give opportunities to women, she couldn’t let this unfair denial go without comment.
“I said something to the director of the company and they gave me an interview for the position. I ended up being perfect for the job.”
Dorcie further progressed in her career by coming to Zapier, the leader in no-code automation. She started off as a manager of data engineers and has grown to manage multiple teams of data engineers and data scientists.
“I really like helping each of my teams work as one,” she shares proudly. “The most satisfying part of my job is helping people be efficient, helping them understand how to connect what they need to do with how much it's going to help other people, and telling stories with data.”
Within a little over a year and a half, her responsibilities have expanded to managing four different data teams.
“I have such a supportive manager who pushed me to do more than I thought I could,” she says. “I think it goes back to that fear of the unknown. Questioning yourself, can I do this? And someone saying, yes, you can do this.”
Advice for Pursuing a Career in Data Engineering
Dorcie’s path to Data Engineering wasn’t a typical one. Yet her story shows that if you put in the hard work, speak up for yourself, and are truly passionate about what you do, you can carve the path of your choice.
For those wanting to excel in the world of tech and data, here is Dorcie’s advice:
- Find your tribe: Dorcie describes a tribe as a “group of people that are extremely supportive.” She expresses that her tribe spans from her friends and family to her managers at work. “Having a tribe is super important because those are the people that are going to help you see the things that you don't see and give a different perspective, or just cheer you on when you're down on yourself.”
- Trusting your intuition: When you are put in unfamiliar situations and are met with certain challenges, Dorcie suggests asking yourself “Does this feel inherently good to me?” When making a career change do what is best for you, not what’s best for others.
- Continue to educate yourself: “There are all these Bootcamp classes that are showing up. So, don't be afraid to take an eight-week boot camp class or something like that to learn something new.”
- Continue to move forward in the face of adversity: Although Dorcie has an amazing story, her journey is a road paved with successes, failures, rejections, and tenacity. “There's a bit of struggle that happens all the time, but there are so many big wins at the end of the day that makes it so worth it.”
- Don’t let anyone hold you down: An employer once told Dorcie, ‘You’re not worth anything more’ when she had tried negotiating a raise. “I felt like I deserved it because I had put in a lot of extra hours to get our product MVP out the door. Plus, I was making way less money than I should have been. After hearing that, I didn’t let it get me down and made better career decisions going forward. I realized at that moment that sometimes there is a mismatch in how I value myself and how others value me and that shouldn’t define my future.”
If you’re looking to work in a supportive environment, check out Zapier’s job openings.