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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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.

The Future of Virtual Reality

1097723620Written by Arthur van Hoff, CTO at Jaunt

Virtual reality is something many people have heard of, but few have experienced. Yet trying to put it into words is, as one blogger stated, “like trying to take a picture of your favorite song.” Poised to disrupt the way we see, live and engage with the world, the fully immersing experience of VR has the potential to change the face not just of gaming or entertainment, but has implications for education, travel, healthcare, real estate, and more.

Today, you can put on VR goggles and have an immersive experience beyond your imagination – with high-definition 360-degree, 3D video and binaural audio, you can feel as though you’re in the world’s most spectacular places, on stage next to your favorite musician, or on the field cheering on your home team, even when you’re thousands of miles away.

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The truly exciting part about virtual reality is that this is just the beginning. The potential applications for this technology is something that excites us tremendously and we are continuously exploring.

Much of the content that is currently being developed for virtual reality goggles is simulated or digitally produced, along the lines of video games. At Jaunt, we’re building the full-stack technology to create cinematic VR. This includes the camera, software editing, and content production. Instead of exploring a simulated world, you can be transported to other places in the real world.

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This also means exploring new means of storytelling beyond the current capabilities of traditional film-making. We’re discovering new ways to use the technology, and it’s opening up huge new doors for writers, directors, actors, artists, and other content creators.

We shared some of what we’ve discovered and created at the Tech In Motion event this week. We enjoyed sharing the experience of cinematic VR with you and you’ll see some action photos in an event recap posted later in the month.

Tech in Motion Silicon Valley is also proud to announce their September event, Security & Technology: BYOD, Home, & Mobile {Sponsored By Microsoft & Appvance}. You can RSVP here.

arthurAbout the author: Arthur van Hoff is serial entrepreneur and was most recently CTO at Flipboard. He started his career in Silicon Valley at Sun Microsystems where he was an early developer of the Java programming language. Since then he has started several successful companies. Arthur has expertise in machine learning, big data, mobile applications, 3D printing, and computational photography. He is originally from the Netherlands and has a master’s degree in Computer Science from Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

Lack of Engineering Talent: Is it the Geek Syndrome?

griffinI recently attended a dinner event for a prominent university here where internal university updates are discussed. Filled with lecturers, deans, VPs and other state & local VIPs, it’s a pretty standard gathering of higher education people. At this years dinner, the president of the university was discussing the brand new data center. Proud of the fact that it’s the schools first LEED Platinum certified building, she wanted to call out the person responsible for the initiative. This is how she announced the individual:

“My resident computer geek”

I talk to a lot of people about the state of the technology industry, especially with regards to job opportunities. Whenever I point to the wealth of technical job openings that remain unfilled, people always ask “why is there such a lack of tech people?” The reason I give surprises many and gets dismissed. It’s this:

It’s still not cool to be involved with computers.

Despite all the recent fame and success of technology / internet entrepreneurs, people still think of techies as the taped glasses & pocket protector-wearing geeks from the movies. It’s very hard to imagine why the “D&D playing virgins, living in their parents basement” historical stereotype persists. Yet, here we are.

“My resident computer geek”

Its difficult to find a faster growing sector of the economy with higher earning potential than computer science. Yet despite the existence of demand, the year after year growth of the sector, the massive unemployment rates of certain generations and the high earning potential of a computer based job, the supply is actually going down.

To explain this, some people point to the relative newness of technology professions as a leading indicator. The narrative goes that we’ll see younger generations see the demand, flock to it, then start to fill it. This might have been true in the 80′s, 90′s or early 00′s. But we’re squarely in the 3rd decade (at least) of computers underpinning most of our daily lives. If timing was an issue, we would have seen an influx of grads after the mid-80′s, late 90′s or mid 00′s. Yet, enrollment is down in almost every single STEM major around the country. The rise in use of non-US talent is at an all time high as companies go to Central & South America, Europe & Asia for talent.

Note: I know that higher ed is not the only source of talent and training, but it’s a big one.

Something deeper is going on that is steering people away from the sector.

“My resident computer geek”

This wasn’t some football throwing jock, stuffing kids into garbage cans. This was the president of a major university. If anyone should be sensitive throwing around pejorative names, it should be her. The dismissive remarks seem to ignore just how quickly tech savvy people are lapping non-tech savvy people in terms of knowledge, business acumen, social mobility and plain economic power. To dismiss that section of the population is dangerous at best and ignorant at worst.

Among the other members introduced that night were lit professors, authors, pharmacists and CEOs. How many of those people do you think were reduced to a unflattering stereotype? She could have easily used stereotypes such as bookworms, alcoholics, med school dropouts and crooks to describe the other members mentioned above. But she didn’t.

“My resident computer geek”

After her speech, at the end of the dinner, she had a new recruitment video cued up to show everyone. As we sat watching, the video froze and stopped playing. Everyone in the room sat there, with no idea what to do. The person running the laptop could do nothing but click play / pause a few times before the president declared “we’re having technical difficulties.”

If only there was a computer geek around to help.

Read the original blog post here on Griffin Caprio’s blog – and don’t forget to RSVP for CTO Tech Talk to hear Griffin and other leaders talk about technical co-founding and more at Tech in Motion Chicago on June 26th

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!

Women in Technology: Where do they stand?

lauracrimaldiWhen Tech in Motion hosted a panel discussion in Cambridge about women in technology earlier this month, it took a while to get to the elephant in the room.

The panel was made up of women who are accomplished in the fields of technology and/or startup companies who had a lot of advice and encouragement to share about their work and education experiences.

Swati Vakharia is senior director of technology and development at ESPN.  Christina Luconi is chief people officer at Rapid7. Dana Artz is the executive director of Intelligent.ly.  Susan Buck is a co-founder of Web Start Women and Codagogy, which is now known as the Women’s Coding Collective. Annette Arabasz is a creative technologist at Mad*Pow and chapter leader at Girl Develop It.

The panel also took place against the backdrop of a number of positive developments for women in technology and business. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has launched a movement with her book “Lean In.” Under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has increased its stock price and, by some measures, surpassed Google in terms of web traffic. General Motors just named its first female CEO in Mary Barra.

During the question and answer period, a member of the audience asked the panelists how they square their optimism about the place that women have carved out for themselves in the technology and research that paints a far grimmer picture.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology published a compilation of statistics that seek to quantify how women have progressed in the field. Here are some selected excerpts:

  • Women currently hold more than 51% of all professional occupations in the U.S., and approximately 26% of the 3,816,000 computing-related occupations. (Department of Labor Current Population Survey, 2012)
  • In 1991, women held 37% of all computing-related occupations. (NCWIT, 2010)
  • Among the tech companies within the Fortune 100, only four have female CEOs. (Fortune, 2012)
  • Women hold 11% of executive technical roles at privately held, venture-backedcompanies. (Dow Jones VentureSource, 2012)
  • Women comprise 7% of tech company founders (Kauffman Foundation, 2010)
  • More than half (56%) of women in technology leave their employers at the mid-level point in their careers (10-20 years). Of the women who leave, 24% take a non-technical job in a different company; 22% become self-employed in a technical field; 20% take time out of the workforce; 17% take a government or non-profit technical job; 10% go to a startup company; and 7% take a non-technical job within the same company. (The Athena Factor via The Facts, 2010)

So this is where the rubber meets the road. There was some debate over whether women in technology are benefiting from a boom or, more modestly, finally getting the traction they need to make progress. But overall the panelists’ tenor was a positive one. What gives?

The answer may be just as simple as this: They all love what they are doing. They are passionate about their work, they know their worth and how to communicate it, and if they stopped enjoying what they do, they’d probably move on and find something else.

Speaking personally, I know what it feels like to crave concrete advice that guarantees some measure of a positive outcome. Be confident. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Volunteer for projects. Speak up.

All good advice, but going through a checklist of career pointers isn’t going to get you the work life you desire unless you do what you love and know what you want. If you can get yourself into a place where those two criteria are fulfilled, work won’t feel so much like work. Obstacles won’t seem so daunting. Statistics will be just another set of another numbers.

For me, that was the takeaway message for the panel. So ask yourself those two questions: What do I want and what do I love to do? You may want to write down your response to get it on the record for yourself so there’s no ambiguity.

Use that as your foundation, and then perhaps, the semantics surrounding where women stand in any given field won’t matter or have a role to play in determining whether you prosper.