Award-Winning Secrets to Success from Previous Best Manager Recipients

For the past few years, Tech in Motion Events has encouraged local tech communities to nominate top tech managers from all over North America and celebrated those leaders at the annual Timmy Awards. Thus far, 16 have claimed the trophy as their region’s Best Tech Manager with another 11 looking to hoist the hardware later this year. From bridging the gap between employee and employer to keeping energy levels high, the secrets that these managers shared aren’t just the keys to their success, but also to keeping their teams engaged, eager to constantly improve, and excited to come into work every single day.

Do you have a manager like this? Nominate him or her as a 2017 Timmy Award Best Tech Manager.

Strong management in the workplace impacts every employee within the company. For instance, in a 2015 survey on Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement from The Society for Human Resource Management, 55% of employees surveyed rated the trust between employees and senior management as “very important,” the fifth-highest rated of any aspect considered. For Andrew Santorelli, Senior Development Manager at KANETIX SaaS in Toronto, giving feedback is one thing he has always valued, even from his days as a junior employee. “I always felt like I was doing a good job, but I never knew my manager saw the same thing. It’s hard to know where to put your energy or how to meet expectations when you are not given any feedback.” With the goal of providing more transparency and thus, more trust, Santorelli has implemented various checkpoints throughout the year specifically for giving employees feedback: how they’re doing in the workplace, what areas they’re excelling in, and where they need to improve.

CTA2Of course, there needs to be a balance between work and play. In the survey mentioned above, 53% of employees also rated work/life balance as “very important” to their job satisfaction. However, it’s not just change that has to come from the top: “they always make fun of me because I want to play games or take them to the park,” reflects Eva Pagneux, Product Manager of Hexo+ by Squadrone Systems, based out of San Francisco. She knows that her energy keeps her team motivated even if they do poke fun at her for it.

One of the most important points stressed by multiple managers was finding a style of management that works not just for you, but for the team as well. “Leadership is about responsibility, not authority” says Seth Dobbs, VP of Engineering at HS2 Solutions. Coming from a previous role that included a servant-master relationship with a previous manager, Seth adopted a style of giving responsibility to his employees, so he could lead as a mentor rather than a boss. Empowering rather than directing your employees will help them develop in the long-run.

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And finally, for the advice they’d give all other managers? It’s simple: Venkat Rangasamy, Principal Software Architect at Equinix in San Jose, sums it up best when he says his managing style follows the mantra Do stuff, no bluff.” He suggests to be transparent and a part of the team rather than managing and directing from behind a closed office door. Understand your team members and their concerns, and focus on making others successful, because ultimately, their successes are your successes.

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Ultimately, 2017 will allow 10 regions to crown a new “Best Tech Manager,” one that promotes career growth, ensures a great team culture, inspires innovation, and has a clear and communicated vision to produce a great product. The managers quoted above have embodied what it means to be a great manager by leading their teams to success through their many projects and initiatives and continue to do so year-after-year. To learn more about what it takes to become a Timmy Award-winning manager or to nominate a certain special manager in your life, visit the Timmy Awards’ website here.

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What Your Tech Experience Says About How Much You Earn

Tech Salaries by Experience

Tech in Motion’s proud supporter, Workbridge Associates, recently published a report predicting the tech salaries for 2017. In this report, it is forecasted that in 2017, the average salary for a software engineer will increase by approximately 3%, compared to 2016, and reach a total of $107,745 a year. One of the biggest contributing factors of salary growth is experience, and the way that engineers can leverage their experience to get the best possible pay will make the up-most difference. After analyzing thousands of job placements across the US and Canada, we built a graph that demonstrates the growth of annual salaries by experience level in the tech industry.

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Looking for a job in the tech industry? Click here to check out our Online Job Board!

College Grads and Those Who Have Few Years of Experience in the Tech Industry.

You’re probably wondering why the above graph illustrates that having “0 years” or no years of experience in the tech industry can get you a higher paying salary than someone who has one or two years. Surprisingly, entry-level university or college graduates with little to no experience can actually negotiate a 4% higher salary than their peers who already have some experience in the industry. The reasons behind this are: (1) with a shortage of tech talent, there is fierce competition amongst big companies to attract engineers and tech graduates right out of school. (2) If the candidate has little experience, but is already searching for a new job, it’s a big indicator that something went wrong, such as termination of employment. It could also indicate that a person is looking for some type of career change (industry, company, technology, location, etc.) and would be willing to settle for a lower salary. (3) Once graduated, many young people try to find success as entrepreneurs. If that fails, a lot of them will then resort back to the job market, where their experience as entrepreneurs partially counts but their earnings at the time were little to none. Therefore, there is more leverage for an employer to offer less.

Want to get your foot in the door working for a big company? Join us at a Tech in Motion event to meet and network with other tech professionals and enthusiasts in your city! View our calendar here.

Tech Salary Growth Virtually Stops After 15 Years of Experience.

Based on the data we’ve found, below is a breakdown of salary growth after 5, 10, 15, and 30 years of work experience in the tech industry:

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As illustrated, someone with five to ten years of experience will see the biggest increase in salary. This is because there is a vast and apparent difference between, for example, a Java Developer with five years of experience and one with nine years of experience. Also, for many tech professionals, this period could be characterized by a big career move or change, such as relocating to a more pricey area, acquiring a senior or executive level role, learning a new technology, receiving an advanced degree, or switching from a small company to a big one or vice versa.

However, based on the data we’ve found, the growth in salary virtually disappears for tech professionals after 15 years of experience, and there are many reasons why it happens. One reason is that many experienced technologists are moving into higher level roles on the corporate ladder, turning into stakeholders or executives, or becoming independent business owners. Therefore, they are not considered “tech professionals” anymore and are no longer in the same salary bracket.

Another reason why salary growth diminishes for tech professionals after 15 years of experience or more is because it may be hard to keep up with new trends in technology and compete with new tech talent entering the workforce.

Also, it’s hard to convince your employer that your degree from 1990 and your 27 years of experience is better and deserves a higher pay than a person who graduated in 1996. In order to continue growing your salary in the long run, you need to continuously develop your skills and experience.

Contact a local Jobspring Partners or Workbridge Associates to help you in your job search!

Ensuring Steady Growth in Salary after 15 Years of Experience (Or Less):

We recently published an article titled “How to Earn $200K+ as a Software Engineer”, which provides some tips on how to increase your salary in the tech industry. This advice could also be applied to developing your skills and negotiating a higher pay. Here’s a brief overview of what this article has to say:

Want to read the entire article? Check it out here.

  • Consider relocating if you feel that higher paying jobs are limited in your country, region, or city. For example, based on our data, over 60% of tech professionals who make $200K or more live in the San Francisco / San Jose area; another 10% of professionals with salaries over $200K live in New York City.
  • Learn new technologies to be highly demanded or a “hot commodity”. Those who learn cloud computing, data engineering, iOS, Android, C++, DevOps, Java, Perl or UI/UX can expect anywhere from a 7% to 26% increase in salary.
  • Demonstrate that you are not only a developer who knows how to code, but also a leader who can make decisions, train, mentor, supervise, manage, and lead a team. It’s all about how big your impact is on an organization, which is why it is recommended to take additional classes in management and leadership, or even pursue a Master’s degree in engineering, computer science, management, finance, or business administration (MBA). A Master’s degree will help your negotiating power when pursuing a top level position.
  • Consider moving to a bigger or smaller company. For the most part, large companies have more resources and can provide higher salaries and growth opportunities. On the contrary, if you already work for a big organization, try to look around for a small startup, as your experience could be valued as a “treasure” and this company may be willing to pay you more for what you can offer.

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How to Earn $200K+ as a Software Engineer

Over the last two years, Tech in Motion’s proud supporters, Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates, have worked with hundreds of thousands of engineers across the United States and Canada to find these tech professionals exciting positions. While the vast majority end up in positions that pay between $50,000 and $140,000, these agencies have also placed many engineers at the $200K-$300K+ range.

Many candidates wonder: “What qualifies an engineer for a $200K+ salary? And how can I get there?” Given the 27 years of experience that Jobspring and Workbridge have working within the technology industry, it is clear that there are some key factors that you should keep in mind before you go shooting for the stars. Here are the top four determinants that can help you map out your career as well as help you dream and achieve bigger:

Want to earn $200K working as a Software Engineer or check out other tech opportunities? Click here to view our Tech Job Board!

1. Location, Location, Location

You can be the greatest developer with a Ph.D. in Engineering, but a $200K position may not exist in the geographic region you live in. Are you willing to relocate? Most of the job openings in the $200K range that Jobspring and Workbridge often deal with are located in San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles. If you’re not open to relocating to a place where the pay is higher, you may be limiting yourself.

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*Based on Jobspring and Workbridge Placements.

Check out what tech jobs are available in these US locations – click here!

 

2. Experience

Experience plays a critical role when it comes to salary negotiation. Over the last four years, there was only one person that these agencies placed at a just-under-$200K salary who had only two years of experience. (This person had some exceptional accomplishments and specialized in Front-End Development.) Most companies want to see at least seven years of experience before they even consider higher six-figure salaries. In fact, the majority of the agencies’ $200K placements were with candidates that had 11-28 years of experience.

 

3. Technology and Skills

Technology and skills are critical components to gaining a higher salary. Do you have the right skills? Do you need to learn a new programming language or move to a different field or niche? Your skills, and how you can sell yourself, are essential parts of getting the highest salary possible. Based on all of the placements done by Jobspring and Workbridge from 2013-2016, Java Developers were the leaders of the $200K club. Mobile, Network Security, Front End, Ruby on Rails, Product Management, and UI/UX were all among the top technologies when it came to highest salaries.

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*Comparing Jobspring and Workbridge salaries by technology and experience with the average for Software Engineers.

 

4. Seniority and Leadership

The majority of people placed with a $200K+ salary are generally at a Senior Management or C-Level position working for a startup or Fortune 500 company. Often times, these people are placed with companies who were looking to hire “on the street” to fill their VP or C-Level positions. So if you think that a Ph.D. in Engineering and decades of experience will eventually guarantee you a big promotion to a Senior Executive level, think again. A lot of employers feel comfortable hiring experienced engineers working for other companies and don’t see the need to promote within the company.

As an engineer, you must prove that you are not only a talented coder, but also an effective manager who can lead others, take ownership, and make critical decisions. At the Senior Executive level, you need to demonstrate leadership acumen. An MBA (full-time, executive, online, or part-time) with a Master’s Degree in Engineering and a focus on Management, as well as courses and a certificate on Leadership, are all important aspects of becoming a candidate who can qualify for a higher six-figure compensation.

 

Start Your Future Today

Map out what experiences, technologies, stretch assignments, and leadership abilities you need to embody as you journey toward higher paying positions. An investment in yourself now is an investment in your future. Begin today and set yourself upon a course to earning your full potential.

Let us help you find your dream job! Contact a Jobspring Partners or Workbridge Associates in your city to kickstart the process.

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Product Management: Startup vs Big Company

Written by Sara Mauskopf, Director of Product at Postmates

Now that I’ve been at Postmates for almost 8 months, a lot of people have asked me the difference between Product Management at a larger company like Twitter (where I worked from July 2010 to July 2014) or Google (where I worked from 2007 to 2010) and at a startup like Postmates. I wondered this myself too before I decided to join a startup.

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So first, let me define Product Management at a larger tech company. As a Product Manager, you’re responsible for defining a roadmap for your area and ensuring that roadmap will yield the goals or objectives you set forth for your team (and these team goals should clearly map to the goals of the company). You’re responsible for ensuring the items on the roadmap are prioritized, and that there are clear product specifications for those items. Finally you work closely with the team to build, launch, collect data/feedback, and iterate. Through all phases, including planning, you’re working closely with engineering, design, and other key stakeholders across the company. And because everyone looks to you as a leader for your product area, it’s important you’re inspiring those around you to do their greatest work by setting the right context, establishing a sense of urgency, and working collaboratively.

Looking for a product or project manager role? Check out the job board to see if any positions are a good match.

As it turns out, all those fundamentals remain the same at a startup. In fact, the fundamentals are so important that having experience at a larger company as a Product Manager is one of the best forms of training for startup Product Management. But on top of all that, at a startup you have responsibilities and challenges that don’t exist at a larger company. If you’re thinking of making the transition from big company PM to startup PM, here are some things you’ll want to know.

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1. You’ll often have to do things you’ve never done before and probably suck at.

Working at a startup you quickly discover where your personal weaknesses are because on a daily basis you need to do something you’ve never done before and probably aren’t good at yet. The main way this manifests is through needing to do something that larger companies have a person or team dedicated to doing. For example, at a startup you will most certainly not have a user research team that helps you assess how your feature will be received in the market. If you want user research or early feedback on a prototype, you’ll have to find and interview users yourself. Although it can be scary to roll up your sleeves and try something you’ve never done before, it’s also the fastest way to learn how to do it. If you’re lucky, you may discover a talent you didn’t know you had!

2. You’ll need gymnast levels of flexibility.

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Imagine any company has 5 “fire drills” a quarter. In other words, an average company has 5 times per quarter when they need to react quickly to something in the market, change a plan due to unexpected data or user feedback, or get in a war room and really focus on a hard problem that hasn’t been given enough attention. At a larger company, those 5 times are spread out between a lot of people and teams so you probably experience yourself at most one per quarter. At a startup, any fire drill usually involves most of the product, design, and engineering team because the team is so small. It’s important at a startup that you can quickly tackle these fire drills, not get too thrown off course, and reprioritize your roadmap when needed. Most importantly, you need to mentally be able to deal with plans changing more frequently. It’s ok!

3. You’ll do less talking the talk, more walking the walk.

At a startup, there’s nowhere to hide. People who can step up to the plate and tackle the challenges will shine and get even more responsibility. Underperformers who can’t cut it will quickly make their way out. In addition to not needing to worry much about whether your individual performance will be recognized, if you ask any good PM at a larger company they’ll tell you they spend some percentage of their time carving out territory for their team, evangelizing the great results of their team, and other activities generally thought of as “managing up”. It’s not because large companies are full of evil political people, it’s just because when you have so many people working somewhere it’s easy to get lost in the noise if you aren’t making it clear what your team works on and the results they’ve achieved.

walk the walk

You don’t have to worry about that much at a startup. Now, I spend my time working and moving the company forward rather than evangelizing my team internally. With fewer people to communicate with, you can spend more time doing the work, which is great because there’s a lot of work to do.

Connect with companies like Postmates at Tech in Motion events – find one near you here.

sarahAbout the Author

Sara Mauskopf joined on-demand delivery company Postmates in July to build and run its Product Management team. Postmates is transforming the way local goods move around a city by connecting customers with local couriers who purchase and deliver goods from any restaurant or store in a city in minutes. Prior to Postmates, Sara was a Group Product Manager at Twitter, having joined the company in 2010. She started her career at YouTube and Google as a Partner Technology Manager (a role that’s a mix of partnerships and engineering). Sara graduated with a bachelors degree in Computer Science from MIT.

12 Great Pieces Of Advice From Female Software Engineers

Here are the top 12 golden pieces of forward-thinking, action-oriented advice from female software engineers that have been shared on the Hackbright Academy blog this year:

#1 – How To Detect Female-Friendliness In A Company / Engineering Team

Thumbtack software engineer and Hackbright alumna Katie Thomas suggests 5 questions to ask an interviewer to detect how female-friendly a company or engineering team is. Asking “how do people ask questions” or “Are any engineers involved in programs aimed at supporting women in the industry? (e.g. PyLadies, Women Who Code, Hackbright, etc.)” will help you figure out if this workplace is right for you.

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#2 – How To Not Suffer From Imposter Syndrome

Hackbright alumna and software engineer Gulnara Mirzakarimova shares 5 lessons on beating imposter syndrome. Our favorite is #5 – “Accept the fact that there are things that you do not know, there are things that you will never know and there are things that You Can Decide To Learn.”

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#3 – Focus

Flixster software engineer and Hackbright alumna Aimee Morgan blogged about focus. She shares that “being a beginner at something in your mid-thirties is alternately terrifying / humbling / awesome.” Agreed.

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#4 – Self Care Strategies For The Job Search

Hackbright software engineer and alumna Meggie Mahnken shares self care strategies for the software engineer job search. She crowdsourced advice from Hackbright alumnae, from not letting an interview outfit go to waste (go out with friends to dinner after an interview!) to “set a mini-goal for yourself to have something more achievable and within your control as a measure of success, rather than just ‘did you get an offer or not’ from the interview.”

Find your next role on the Tech in Motion job board here.

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#5 – Learn Git and GitHub

Self-taught web developer Jenn Wong shares her story about learning to code and working at Zillow. Her advice? “Learn Git and use GitHub to keep a record of the work you’re doing.” Now she’s working on becoming a full-stack engineer.

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#6 – Read It Three Times If You Have To

Self-taught engineer and Spitfire entrepreneur Erin Parker shares her story of learning to code: “I started going through the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails tutorial and I ended up going through it 3x before things really started to click. In tech, you learn that you can teach yourself anything by googling stuff, finding a book, reading documentation.”

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#7 – Have Confidence But More Importantly, Perseverance

Skybox Imaging software engineer and Hackbright alumna Danielle Levi shares advice about perseverance and confidence: “It’s easy to compare yourself to others in the industry and find yourself lacking. However, its often not a fair comparison. In my case, I found my interest in technology and computer science at a later point in life. I’ve had less time to learn as much. Everyone has their own unique obstacles. It’s better to compare yourself to yourself. Think about your progress, how much you’ve accomplished, and exercise self-compassion. Stay passionate and keep learning.”

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#8 – Find Your Local Programming Resources and Meetups

Rachel Ann Werner went to Nashville Software School and learned to program – she’s now a back-end developer at iostudio. She recommends “getting out there and meeting people at programming user groups.” Rachel also founded the Nashville chapter of Girl Geek Dinners, an organization that encourages young women into technology careers. And on Meetup.com, she met the ladies of Nashville Women Programmers (pictured, below).

Find a local Tech in Motion event happening near your city.

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#9 – Ask For Help

Uber software engineer and Hackbright mentor Martha Girdler shared advice on “politely and unobtrusively asking for help”. She advises mentees to “don’t be afraid to politely and unobtrusively email someone you admire in your field and ask for mentorship. It’s best to ask for a small amount of their time (a phone call once every few months, a few emails here and there). Always take notes, and research your potential mentor thoughtfully and thoroughly. If they say yes, your first priority is to ask thoughtful questions!”

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#10 – It’s OK To Not Know Everything

Medium software engineer Jean Hsu assures new programmers: “it’s OK not to know everything.” She continues that “it’s impossible to know everything, but sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s easy to think that everyone else knows it all. There’s plenty of time to learn. You are not an imposter. It is incredibly unlikely that you got lucky over and over and over again. It’s much much more likely that you got where you are through hard work and your accomplishments.”

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#11 – Remember, This Too Shall Pass

Presidential Innovation Fellow and software engineer Sarah Allen was a young mom when someone told her “this too shall pass”. Sarah reminds us that “when things really suck, remember that this too shall pass, and when things are really great, remember that this too shall pass.”

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#12 – Do The Hardest Thing

Femgineer founder and software engineer Poornima Vijayashanker urges women to “do the hardest thing”. Instead of doing what’s easiest – that will bring her the maximum benefit – Poornima always chose to pursue the hard path. She’s programmed herself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought her the greatest joy.

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By Angie Chang (VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy – shown left)

Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley is recognizing Women’s History Month with a Women of Influence panel event. These women are taking the lead head on in the technology industry. Through courage, compassion, and conviction they have built their way up to represent the top in their class. Please join Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley for this educational and inspiring panel discussion on March 26, 2015 at Microsoft (Bldg 1) located at 1065 La Avenida Street, Mountain View, CA. RSVP here.

Thinking Big: The Evolution of Tech Ed

For the “Thinking Big” event in 2014, San Francisco techies gathered at Geekdom to discuss the evolution of tech education. They filed through the entryway and grabbed name tags as the networking hour began before the talk. People of all ages and from all different fields mingled over beer, wine and sandwiches. Discussion was flying and talks of startups, new tech and dev bootcamps filled the air.

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After an hour of networking, the tech talk was ready to begin. A representative from Geekdom pulled the audience into the presentation room, the speakers were introduced and the night was off to a great start.

Network at a Tech in Motion event – check out this listing of upcoming events.

The first speaker was Vivek Ravisankar, the CEO and co-founder of HackerRank. HackerRank is a platform where developers solve challenges for games and jobs. Ravisankar discussed how when he worked at Amazon he felt that the hiring process was flawed. He realized the problem with hiring was that it was not geared enough towards skill when it came to programmers – and so HackerRank was born.

“The only thing that should matter is your skill when connecting people with companies,” said Ravisankar.  He left his job at Amazon and began his mission to change the hiring process forever. Ravisankar left the audience with a new perspective on hiring tech talent based on skills alone by the time his presentation was through.

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Next up was Shaan Shah, co-founder of MakerSquare, a highly selective program that creates software developers by teaching software engineering fundamentals. Shah opened his keynote with a joke and captivated the audience captivated from the start. He dove into how education programs are changing the way the hiring process works and why he believes MakerSquare is a valuable program for aspiring tech talent. He explained that with the plethora of programs available these days, it is important to look into them with the same seriousness you would a university.

“There are so many schools you need to dig in deep,” he advised the audience. “Do your research.” Shah explained to the room that the market is growing so quickly, he has decided to take a leave of absence just to catch up on the newest technologies. It demonstrated to the audience just how important it is to stay current in this fast-paced market.

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The final presenter of the evening was Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace. RocketSpace started its bootcamp, RocketU a year ago and Logan was excited to speak about it to the Tech in Motion members about the reason why. He enthusiastically highlighted the growing importance of coding in today’s world.

“If your parents can type and you can’t code, you are taking your family backward,” stated Logan, to illustrate that knowing how to code is becoming a necessary skill to have. Comparing the evolution of coding to the growth of excel in the work place, he explained that excel used to be a skill that was taught specially in the workplace; now knowledge of excel is considered a requirement for almost all jobs.

According to Logan, this is what coding will evolve to be in the upcoming years. Eventually knowledge of code will be an absolute requirement to keep up in the workforce.

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Upon the completion of Logan’s talk, the Q&A session began. Tech in Motion members fired questions left and right with passion and curiosity. One of the most heated debates was sparked by the question of how dev bootcamps compare to having a Computer Science degree. The speakers all agreed that while a CS degree is important and impressive, the unique aspect of a bootcamp is that it is state of the art and can keep up with the fast pace of the coding world.

As the Q&A wrapped up, guests got up from their seats for a final half hour of networking. They met with the speakers and discussed their favorite parts of the presentations. As the beer and wine ran out and the last attendees exited the building, it was clear that the night had left Tech in Motion members with new perspectives on the Tech Ed space.

Find a Tech in Motion chapter near you.

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How to Succeed in Technology: A Chat with TrueCar’s John Williams

Tech in Motion LA hosted a tech talk with TrueCar‘s Senior Vice President of Platform Operations, John Williams, on all things tech and TrueCar – a company that is making sure car shoppers never overpay again. John gave attendees some valuable insight into how to stand out in the tech industry and what’s most important for success in going mobile, getting capital and beyond.LA tech talk

Here are a few highlights of the advice he shared with Tech in Motion LA during his tech talk this fall:

Mobile:

  • Look at what other companies are doing and improve upon their concepts, strategies and execution
  • Be aware of interaction models and how users are engaging in the mobile technology
  • Think about data
  • Real-time capabilities are extremely important in mobile

Capital:

  • Start with a great product that users are interested in
  • Make it as flawless as possible upon public release
  • Figure out what other businesses you can partner with for increased success
  • Relationships with investors & VC’s are key!

Other areas:

  • Execution is most important
  • Competition drives the product demand but isn’t necessary to succeed
  • Uniqueness is desirable
  • Be ready to exploit trends in technology

For more insight from top tech execs, join Tech in Motion LA and get invited to the next event.

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About John Williams: John Williams has over 20 years of experience designing, building and operating large scale Internet infrastructure. After joining TrueCar in March 2011, John is responsible for the technology, security and operations strategy that facilitates explosive growth while still meeting strict requirements for performance, security and reliability. Before TrueCar, John was a consultant for numerous world-class technology, financial services, entertainment, military and government organizations. Previously, he was the CTO and co-founder of Preventsys (acquired by McAfee) where he created the world’s first automated security policy compliance system for large enterprise networks. Prior to that he founded and led the network penetration testing team for Internet security pioneer Trusted Information Systems. At the start of his career, John co-founded and built one of New York City’s first Internet Service Providers.

Tech Talk with Lose It!

This past spring, the Boston chapter of Tech in Motion hosted an exciting evening of demos and drinks based around green and health tech startups, including Lose It!, a weight loss application. Tech in Motion Boston took the time to sit down with Community Manager Whitney Klinkner of Lose It! to get the inside scoop on her company and the startup scene in Boston.

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Q: First off, can you give us a quick introduction to “Lose It!”?

Lose It! is a program that helps folks lose weight by managing their calories in and calories out- a pretty basic concept. We’ve taken it to the next level by making the calorie counting process as painless as possible. The app was started out as a way to make calorie counting easier (as opposed to the old fashioned way of pen and paper!). Then it got picked up for an Apple commercial back in 2008 which helped skyrocket the app and the company. We started off in Copley Square, but made the move to the seaport in 2012. When we moved there, we had about 5 people, and now we are at 12. We have more than doubled our size which is pretty exciting.

We just hit 32 million pounds lost with the app and right now we have about 19 million users; there are about a million people on average who are using the app regularly, which is great. We are consistently in the top 5 for the health and fitness store on iTunes.

Q: With over 19 million users and a team of only 12 people, did you guys find yourselves struggling to keep up with the demand of the app?

It’s actually not as hard as it might seem with our smaller team. When we first started out, the main idea was to get as many things done as soon as you could. Now with a bigger team, we are able to prioritize what needs to get done and have better control so things don’t fall through the cracks. With more people too we are able to give our users more of what they want; one big thing our users have loved is integrating our app with other devices like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband. Our CEO has always believed that a small group of hard working people can do extraordinary things – so that’s been our philosophy from day one. We are hiring a few more people and are excited to grow and accomplish even more!

Q: Just as a startup in general, were there things you found difficult?

One of the great things about Lose It! is that so many have heard about it through word of mouth. Our user growth has been huge, but managing the of the demands of all these people has been a bit of a challenge. We get hundreds of emails from users each week with items they’d like to see added to Lose It!; managing those expectations has been a bit difficult from where I sit. We’d love to implement everything under the sun to help folks to achieve their goals, but it’s just not feasible. We continue to grow and sustain the program in the way that we think makes sense while incorporating feedback from users to shape new features.

Q: Boston is becoming a great place for startups lately, so how do you like the idea of being a Boston startup?

I think being a startup in Boston is awesome. There are so many smart people here and lots of new graduates with all of these great ideas. Unfortunately a lot of these guys and girls go to the west coast after they graduate. I think we need to make the up and coming graduates more aware of all the cool things happening in the Boston start up scene so we can keep more or this new talent local. I know #DownloadBoston has been doing a great job of trying to let people know about local apps and having the city of Boston celebrate them, which I’d really like to see more of. We should feel proud the start up culture here in Boston.

Q: So you guys did a demo with Tech in Motion, do you see an importance to a meet up group like Tech in Motion for startups?

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One of our goals for this year was to go out for more community events like Tech in Motion. It’s a great way to get our name out there, and to meet new people in the Boston startup community. A lot of people didn’t realize we were here in Boston and so the exposure is great for us as a company. It’s also great to learn about other startups in the area and see what they are doing. We are all in the same boat trying to grow our companies. It’s great to make connections and help each other out when it makes sense.

Q: Final Question: can you leave some words of wisdom for those wanting to get into a startup?

I think that if you want to join a startup, you have to be prepared to work very hard and never have the attitude of “that’s not my job.” In my experience, you have to wear a lot of different hats, especially in the very early stages. No day is ever the same and you get a lot of exposure to parts of a business you’d never imagine. Once the company grows you can figure out which areas you really enjoy and sort of steer yourself in that direction, which I think is something you might not get if you started in a big company. I would recommend a start up to anyone who likes a challenge and and does not mind working hard.

Where to Live in Silicon Valley’s Booming Tech Market

Article by: Scott Purcell, Dan Urbaniack & Jason Cooper of Jobspring Silicon Valley

If you were to ask the average American what they picture when they hear Silicon Valley, they’d probably say the big names like Google in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino, and the Stanford/Palo Alto lifestyle they saw in The Social Network. While these may be the landmarks people outside of California have come to know as the epicenter of technology, Silicon Valley has become a sprawling and growing landscape represented across the bay area. With Google and Apple buying up office space left and right in their respective cities, and companies like Palantir seemingly doing the same in Palo Alto, tech startups are often forced to find other cities to call home.

But let’s say you want to move to the Silicon Valley; where do you start? Which areas were popular in the past and where is it hot spot now? Where will you be most profitable? Where are the startups and the big name companies located? Being in the tech recruiting space, we have all had ample experience in this market. Hopefully, with our knowledge, you’ll be able to find your perfect location to get the most out of Silicon Valley.

Many people consider the Silicon Valley to be the technologically-savvy region ranging from San Mateo, California to San Jose. As Scott stated in a previous post, the area is booming and salaries are higher than ever. However, there is a serious concern throughout the Valley– where do people live? How does anyone outside of the top dog execs or the plain lucky afford to live a comfortable life when an average one bedroom apartment goes for $2,100 a month? Where do the folks working the lower-salary tech jobs go?

Since the recession in 2010 things have slowly begun to change. A blazing hot startup and IPO market pushed salaries to record level highs, and with that market, housing prices have also risen. It has become incredibly difficult to purchase a home in the region. The local real estate market is selling faster than ever, thus driving rental prices higher and making it difficult for those not making the top bucks to live comfortably within their means.

Surprisingly, Downtown San Jose housing seems to be plateauing at a reasonable price through this real estate resurgence. There are multiple new apartments, offices, and entertainment spaces being built in the area, and there seems to be a lot of room to expand; which begs the question, how will all of this growth affect the cost of living and the economy of the region as a whole?

The Palo Alto area has had the largest growth in the Bay Area between the Summer of 2012 to Summer of 2013; while over the last three years, Santa Clara County has become the second fastest-growing county in California. One of the major reasons for the rapid population growth is the above average regional job growth.

Let’s look at some of the local players within 5 miles of Palo Alto:

  • Apple, located in Cupertino: whose stock over the last three years has grown from $422/share to $580/share, while hitting a high of +$700/share during that time period
  • Google, Mountain View: 2010 – $610/share, 2013 – $1105/share (high-water mark)
  • Tesla, Palo Alto: 2010 – $22/share, 2013 -$150/share, with a high +/- $200/share
  • HortonWorks, Palo Alto: Founded in 2011 and still pre-IPO has received almost $100 million in funding.

So why are those numbers so important? They are directly correlated with opportunity. The common denominator for the candidates that we speak to everyday are: stability, cutting-edge technology, and an opportunity for growth. Silicon Valley is the 21st century’s American Dream- the combination of professional growth, premier technology companies, mild winters and gorgeous summers makes the region, and specifically Palo Alto, an ideal place to begin or jump start your career. Not to mention salaries that are reminiscent of the “.Com Era”.

However, this rapid expansion has created a predictable but not-so-easy to solve problem: where can we put everyone? Forget about office space or commercial real estate issues for a minute and let’s just look at living situations. On November 5th, the voters of Palo Alto overturned a council approval for the development of 60 apartments and 12 single-family homes. The approved plan allowed housing developers to exceed zoning regulations for public benefit. The constituents of Palo Alto don’t see it this way. They think the area is overpopulated, extremely dense, and parking is a nightmare. Check out this quote from a commenter on a recent article about Measure D, the aforementioned Palo Alto proposal

The damage is done and maneuvering downtown with wall-to-wall people and cars is disgusting. I’m so disappointed in this city and walk around frustrated every day I walk out my front door. I can’t drive down my street to get to my house between 3pm – 6pm, we can’t park in front of our house because all of the downtown employees, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and riding our bikes through all of this traffic is getting more dangerous…” -Downtown Palo Alto Resident – Link

The Peninsula has become an attractive place to set up shop. Available homes and office spaces in areas like Redwood City, San Mateo, Belmont, and San Bruno are popular choices. The rent in this region of the Bay Area is comparable and cheaper than many of the other surrounding areas. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of qualified engineering talent out there. By living in the Peninsula, more transportation options, including public, becomes a possibility. The location is fairly central to people commuting from all directions. For example, the growing populace of tech work in Redwood City and San Francisco is just a short Cal-Train ride away. Want to go south? Taking the 280 to San Mateo or San Jose is a much more attractive option to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic found on one the most highly congested freeways in America.

For many of the same reasons, in addition to the number of bridges, certain cities in the east bay, like Fremont, are also becoming more popular. Granted, Palo Alto does have a certain associated appeal, but there are many so many advantages to moving 7-10 miles up the Peninsula that they just cannot be ignored.

Which Bay Area location sparked your interest? Did you find any insight to the area where you already live? Leave your comments and questions below!

2014: The Year of the Tech War for Talent – Aftermath

Tech in Motion is proud to say that on Tuesday, March 18, at the Microsoft NERD Center, our Boston chapter hosted its second largest event to date: “2014: The Year of the Tech War for Talent”, an innovative tech hiring panel. It was the event to be at for those who have ever wondered what hiring managers are really looking for when they make their hires. The panel consisted of representatives from three different arenas of the tech hiring race – a startup, an enterprise, and an IT recruiting firm.

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As attendees started shuffling in you could hear the buzz of lively tech talk throughout the two floors that make up the Commons space.  Between bites of pizza, pasta and salad, techies were discussing hiring tips, past experiences, and excitement for the panel they were about to hear.

That panel was made up of Chris Chiodo, Director of Engineering at Tapjoy, Kimberly Morgan, Manager of Talent Acquisition at Sapient, and Phill Perkins, Division Manager of Jobspring Partners. The discussion was moderated by Tech in Motion vet and Microsoft MVP, Talbot Crowell, Chief Software Architect at Third Millennium, Inc.

Once everyone was settled in their seats, it was time to start the panel.  After brief introductions from each panelist, Talbott dove right into the discussion.  The panel covered a wide variety of topics including experience vs. degree, interviews, resumes, ideal hiring situations, recruiters, screening processes, turnoffs and interview questions.

Some major takeaways from the panel are:

  • Be truthful on your P1260829resume while keeping it short and concise.
  • It helps to look presentable during an interview whether it’s in person or via Skype.
  • Get on Github.
  • Show initiative and be excited in your interview.
  • Tell your references that they are in fact, your reference, and they should be expecting calls.
  • Once you walk into an office, you are interviewing.
  • 60% of hires tend to come from recruiters
  • If you don’t know something in an interview, DO NOT LIE about it.
  • It’s okay for you to have a list of ‘Must Haves’ during an interview.

All three panelists shared some funny hiring horror stories at the conclusion of questioning.  If you’ve ever had a bad interview, we promise these will make you feel a lot better.

[We were hiring a programmer one time and he had met with quite a few managers who were all on the fence with him.  Some had really positive interviews, the other said 100% NO.  We ended up hiring the guy and three days into work he was caught downloading pornography, smoking in the bathroom, and was abusing work policies.  Needless to say we learned to start trusting the NO’s a whole lot more.]
– Chris

[A month ago we flew in this guy for a face to face interview and some tests.  He arrived in our offices and went to go sit in the Java Bean, our waiting area café.  He had received a phone call and when the office coordinator approached him to let him know it was his time, he put his finger up.  She waited quietly for him to finish and when he did he said, “Please do not interrupt me while I’m on the phone.”  He wasn’t invited back.]
 – Kim

[I placed a guy one time at a brewery.  Apparently when you have a drinking problem, a brewery is the last place you should be working.  This guy would leave in the middle of the day to go drink the free beer.]
– Phill

Following the panel, the three speakers took questions from the audience.  Inspired by what had been discussed the audience came up with some amazing questions that sparked further conversation between the panelists. Once the official panel discussion concluded, a large number of audience members pushed their way to the front of the room to see if they could get one on one time with our speakers.  It was definitely one of the most inspirational and thought-provoking events Boston has had.

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We want to send out a big thank you to all of our speakers for their participation, Talbott for moderating, the NERD Center for hosting us, and our sponsors Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners.   Please join Tech in Motion: Boston to hear about our upcoming events!