Ignite your startup’s potential: Unleash the power of hosting a Girl Geek Dinner for unrivaled recruitment and talent branding. Discover the extraordinary reasons and indispensable roadmap for planning a triumphant soirée that will revolutionize your startup’s trajectory.
Startups are squarely positioned to benefit from hosting a Girl Geek Dinner for recruiting and talent brand purposes. Here’s why and how startups can plan a successful Girl Geek Dinner.
Driving the partnership:MosaicML Girl Geek Dinner executive sponsor Julie Choi (Chief Community & Marketing Officer) wanted to build her startup’s employer brand for recruiting diverse engineers and research scientists.
From champion to speaker: She had helped plan and spoke at multiple Girl Geek X events while she was heading up AI Product & Research Marketing at Intel Corporation, where she saw first-hand the excitement among speakers and employees who attended the events, and the positive impacts of the partnership on retention and recruitment of high-quality, diverse female candidates.
Challenge: Naturally, when Julie joined MosaicML, she reached out to partner with Girl Geek X again. Despite being small by employee count (the 62-person MosaicML was acquired by Databricks for $1.3 billion this week), startups can establish their talent brand by leveraging and recruiting a diverse speaker roster from leading companies in the field (e.g. Meta AI, Salesforce Research, OpenAI, AWS AI).
Results: Over 120 girl geeks enjoyed networking and AI talks at the sold-out MosaicML Girl Geek Dinner featuring women speaking about AI/ML at leading companies.
Pro-tip: Recruit expert speakers from other companies! Julie and her speakers discussed topics including efficient machine learning training with MosaicML, reinforcement learning, ML-based drug discovery with AtomNet, evaluating recommendation robustness with RGRecSys, turning generative models into products at OpenAI, and much more.
#1 – Julie Choi, MosaicML Chief of Growth Executive welcome – watch or read
#2 – Laura Florescu, MosaicML AI Researcher Making ML Training Faster, Algorithmically – watch or read
#3 – Amy Zhang, Meta AI Research Scientist Reinforcement Learning: A Career Journey – watch or read
#4 –Tiffany Williams, Atomwise Staff Software Engineer Addressing Challenges in Drug Discovery – watch or read
#5 –Shelby Heinecke, Salesforce Research Senior Research Scientist Evaluating Recommendation System Robustness – watch or read
#6 – Angela Jiang, OpenAI Product Manager Turning Generative Models From Research Into Products – watch or read
#7 –Banu Nagasundaram, Amazon Web Services Machine Learning Product Leader Seeking the Bigger Picture – watch or read
#8 – Lamya Alaoui, Hala Systems Chief People Officer 10 Lessons Learned from Building High Performance Diverse Teams – watch or read
By investing the time and effort, together we can create an inclusive environment that fosters diversity and enriches our events. It takes commitment to values and mindfulness to embrace this challenge and commit ourselves to doing the necessary work to recruit a diverse range of speakers. Between the networks of the executive sponsor Julie Choi and the Girl Geek X team, we invited speakers who are industry experts and provided thank you gifts to the speakers. The speakers found it to be a good event for them professionally, from sharing their expertise onstage (recorded for YouTube) to networking with fellow industry experts.
Recruiting set up tables, swag, and signage for the sponsoring company to talk to interested attendees. Most Girl Geek Dinners feature a slew of talks and speakers who inspire and motivate attendees to talk to recruiting afterward. At a recent OpenAI Girl Geek Dinner, a speaker spoke about how:
By partnering with Girl Geek X, startups like OpenAI and MosaicML bring pioneering AI/ML technology and diverse women technologists closer together, highlighting how their technologies may become the next invaluable skill set – and perhaps even employ more girl geeks in AI/ML tech!
We spotlight 10 girl geeks this week with valuable insights on mentorship, leadership, engineering and so much more – in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day! Watch their sessions from Girl Geek Dinners at the video links below:
#1 – Frances Haugen, Former Product Manager, Facebook – speaking on Product Management and Gender (video) – at GitHub Girl Geek Dinner:
“You don’t have to accept bad behavior. Vote with your feet.”
“You should find things that you love, and you should go do them. If you can dream it, you can build it. I’ve been in environments where it seemed there were insurmountable odds, yet we went out and did it. The world isn’t fair, but you belong in it.”
“What you do today matters to the women who come after you. I wouldn’t be here today if Marissa Mayer hadn’t been in my management chain [at Google].”
“Being Asian, we had designated professions. There were supposed to be the doctor, the dentist, the engineer, the lawyer, but God forbid no one should ever become an entrepreneur.“
“I was working at a technology company, but using the Yellow Pages to look for care. Something really didn’t add up…”
“If women and men worked equally, from the McKinsey study, the worldwide GDP would grow by $28 trillion or 26% by 2025. Apparently, that’s the size of the combined US and China GDP, if they were just equal. The single biggest obstacle to women’s equal workforce participation across the globe is balancing work and family responsibilities”
“There is definitely a lot of hype, but there is also a ton of technological advancement that’s happening.”
“My background is in mechanical engineering but most of my work has been dedicated to practical applications of technology. Every day we wake up to headlines. We wonder what this is going to do to our minds and to our societies, our workplaces and healthcare.”
“Even politicians and cultural commentators are aware of what’s happening with AI to some extent, and politicians like this, to the extent that there’s a lot of nations out there that have published their AI strategies.”
“I was part of an inaugural program at the time called Electrical Engineering or Computer Science, or EECS as it was known.”
“Kicking it old school.. that was my education, if you will, and my real foray into tech. The challenge is, though, it comes with a responsibility. At Microsoft, GitHub, and LinkedIn, we spend a lot of time on that. It’s not just about innovating, it’s about innovating with purpose, and making sure that you’re leaving the world in a better place than you found it before you introduced your solutions. It’s those unintended consequences that you have to be very thoughtful about.”
#5 – Citlali Solano Leonce, Director of Engineering, Palo Alto Networks – speaking (video) – at Palo Alto Networks Girl Geek Dinner:
“I’m hoping that tomorrow is going to be a little safer than today, so that the world that I leave to my kids and my legacy is much better than what I’m living right now.”
“Back in the day there were no cell phones, no tablets, no flat TV screens… Now, we all have our lives in the digital world. How many of you do your banking online? How many of you do video gaming or your kids do video gaming? We have a big responsibility, everything is interconnected. How do we prevent the bad guys from getting that? I personally love working here because I identify with our mission of securing our digital way of life.”
“One of the things that I’ve learned in my [career] path that your network is one of the most important things that are going to help you in your career.”
“Sometimes you find your network in unexpected places.”
“To give you a few ideas, the people you know then later on they will go places, or you need something, or they need something and then you have that connection to really make a dent for them, for the companies, for you, for your career, for your company or sometimes even just getting advice when you need it or sometimes it’s finding that next job when you need it, whatever that is.”
“One of the reasons why I stay there is for all of you to know that you can be Head of Engineering anywhere you want, right?“
“I have to say I’ve been around the block a few times but young women these days impress me every day. There were a lot of opportunities for me to get out of engineering. People offered me other jobs like product, GM, or whatever. But because tech is such an unfriendly place for women, I didn’t want me to add to the number of women getting out.”
“Be resilient, stay in it, and add value. That’s my story of why I’m so old but I’m still in it.”
“Developing a sisterhood will take us far in seeing the change we want to see in the industry.“
“I was lucky enough to be on a team that got a chance to create a very popular distributed system called Apache Kafka. We open sourced it, it went viral. I sourced a business opportunity around Confluent, pitched it. Fortunately, they agreed to start this company with me.”
“Most of my career has been about introducing this new category of software called Kafka and event streaming into the world.”
“We need to support more women in developer tools. They’re basically force multipliers because you enable developers to do something better to enable their end users.”
“I am fortunate to get to ride this trend, to build a developer tool and help people learn how large scale codebases work, so that we can spend more time building. There are a bunch of startups popping up to help you understand and build features faster and help you understand in a very different way than traditionally you’ve had to understand a codebase. As new types of people, women, underrepresented people, get into engineering, our dev tools need to evolve with them.”
“This talk is called ‘If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again’.“
“About 10 years ago, my dream was to get into artificial intelligence, but I didn’t know how to do it.”
“I was a software engineer and site reliability engineer, so attending OpenAI Girl Geek Dinner in 2019 and meeting a recruiter introduced me to Residency Program. I ended up applying full-time and I got three offers here. Thank you. I wasn’t trying to brag, but thank you. This is more to encourage you.”
Breanna Carodine (People Operations Specialist at Vannevar Labs), Caitlin Stangland (Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Vannevar Labs) and Ann Zeng (Software Engineer at Vannevar Labs) talk about the company’s culture, values, and mission, as well as the opportunities for growth and development within the organization.
VANNEVAR LABS combines top software engineering talent with decades of mission experience to get state of the art technology to the people that keep us safe. Vannevar Decrypt is a foreign text workflow platform built for national security.
Angie Chang: We are here today to kick off our career fair session with Vannevar Labs, and I want to introduce Breanna.
Breanna Carodine: Hi everybody, super happy to be here and to talk to you guys all. My name is Breanna Carodine. I work for Vannevar Labs as the people operations specialist, and that just means I basically work with a lot of onboarding stuff and employee experience and a couple of other things like that. I’ve worked here since December of last year and it’s been such a great company so far.
Breanna Carodine: We’re growing so fast and we’re doing a lot of really great things. Some of my favorite parts about the company is the way that we value certain things. Transparency is really important to us. We want to make sure that everyone is aware of everything that’s going on behind the scenes. We’re not afraid to share some of our trials and tribulations with each other but also celebrate our successes.
Breanna Carodine: One of the things that we really love is that we are a team of Jedi, meaning that all of the people who work here are really good at what they do, and that means that we can accomplish so much more. And everyone has very similar mindsets around being user and mission focused on our work.
Breanna Carodine: Everyone comes together with the same mission, being really great at what they do so we accomplish so much. Also, a value that I think is really important as that we put your wellbeing first. Something I tell every new hire who meets me and everyone within the company, “You cannot do your best work if you’re not your best selves.” And we truly, truly believe that here.
Breanna Carodine: We hope that everybody who comes into this company understands that we have time that you can take off. We have mental health benefits so that you can always be working at your best selves because we truly, truly do care about that.
Breanna Carodine: We are also a remote-first environment so that you can create the environment around you the way that it’s going to be best for you to do your work. I know that’s really great for me because sometimes I don’t need a lot of people around to get a lot of work done. Sometimes, I remove myself from this space and go to a coffee shop and work in a space that I can have all that energy., so that’s really awesome.
Breanna Carodine: Just a little bit about Vannevar and our mission, our basic spiel is that we bring together multidisciplinary groups of people with a wide range of experience and over 40 years of military experiences, engineers from some of the top tech companies and startups, and a passion for delivering mission-critical tools to support public servants on the front lines of the country’s most important national security problem.
Breanna Carodine: A lot of the work that we do, we work right alongside with the Department of Defense and we do some really critical and important work for the country. So to get into a little bit more of those positions and even more details, I’m going to pass it over to Caitlin.
Caitlin Stangland: All right. Hi everyone, so excited to be here today. My name’s Caitlin, I’m based in Northern California, I am a senior recruiter here working on technical and non-technical positions. I’ve been with Vannevar now since January. It’s gone really quick, it goes fast here. And some of the open roles that we currently have, I’ll just give high level overview.
Caitlin Stangland: Currently, we have our mission team and mission roles. Those are broken up into groups, mission success and mission development. Mission success, think of it as customer success within an organization. So most profiles we’re looking for are people with military backgrounds and then have worked within a customer success team at a tech company. So they’re used to working and communicating with clients.
Caitlin Stangland: These positions, our employees on the mission success team are communicating with our customers within the Department of Defense. And there is frequent travel involved with these roles. Mission development, think of it as growth and sales. Usually, we’re looking for someone with military background, and active clearance, and have that sales background and mentality. We also have various engineering roles open.
Caitlin Stangland: We offer internships. Currently, we have deployment lead internship openings for this year. We’re actively recruiting on those roles. We also currently have an opening for a data researcher position. This role’s actually very highly confidential so I’m not able to say too much about what this position does. Then we also are currently looking to build out our finance department. We have a controller opening right now who would own all of the accounting function at Vannevar and would build out that team.
Caitlin Stangland: Those are currently high level overview of our current openings. You can see them all posted on our site and on LinkedIn. Usually at Vannevar, our interview process, we like to really keep it to the same process across all positions at the company. Always starts with a recruiter screen, then a hiring manager interview dependent on the role.
Caitlin Stangland: For mission roles, we usually like to include a decom, think of it as like a conversation prep document that we would send you prior to meeting with the hiring manager so you have a focus of that interview. From there, there’s usually homework or a technical assessment. And then the final part is a top grade interview that’s usually one hour long where someone at the company just gets really, it’s just a lot of questions about your background and goes kind of role by role. So we like to just streamline it and keep it as quick as possible.
Caitlin Stangland: And overall, like Breanna was mentioning, we have awesome benefits. The company culture I love, the startup environment, Vannevar, we’re fast-paced, it’s very collaborative, we’re growing like crazy. But first and foremost, I feel like everyone just genuinely really likes each other.
Caitlin Stangland: We do a really good job of hiring nice people. Every team, no matter who you’re working with, they just do a great job of collaborating with one another. When I joined Vannevar, I did not have a defense tech background, so this was new to me and there was a learning curve there. And I never felt like no question was off limits, no question’s a bad question here.
Caitlin Stangland: Everyone’s open to educating and just giving all the information that you need to start your position at Vannevar. And we have great benefits, competitive pay, equity, the flexible working environment, remote working environment. We do have the flexible PTO policy.
Caitlin Stangland: Mental health like you were mentioning earlier, we definitely prioritize that so we do have a mental health benefit. And overall, I just feel like we’ve done such a good job of creating such an amazing culture. And I’m excited to talk to more of you later. All right, and I’ll kick it off to Anne.
Ann Zeng: Thanks, Caitlin. Hey everyone, my name’s Ann, my pronouns are she, they, I’m a software engineer here at Vannevar Labs and I’ve been here for a little over a year now. Also, my internet has been going on and off so I hope I don’t cut out. Well, I’ll do my best.
Ann Zeng: I currently work on the team that focuses on collection and ingestion of the foreign media that powers the Decrypt platform. Like Breanna said, we’re focusing on solutions in the national security space. And one of our biggest products is called Decrypt.
Ann Zeng: Let me talk everyone a little bit about day-to-day life as an engineer. We’re at about 30 to 35 people on the engineering department among a couple of different teams. I wouldn’t say that the team boundaries are super solid. Somebody described it as a semi-permeable membrane. There’s lots of projects that are across teams. We really welcome people to advocate for themselves in terms of what they want to work on, what they want to learn, and to the extent that there’s room to have people work on things slightly outside of their job description. That’s definitely still there. I mean, we are a startup. No one’s going to say, “Hey, we don’t want you working on more stuff. Why wouldn’t we want people to work on more stuff?”
Ann Zeng: In terms of the tech that we use, it kind of depends on the team, but I would say broadly Python, Node, React, TypeScript, Postgres, OpenSearch. Our stuff is deployed in AWS so yeah, if you have any experience in any of those or are you interested in any of them, feel free to come by and say hi.
Ann Zeng: Because we are remote first. We’re pretty understanding about people’s time zones. There’s no hard start or stop times for working hours, like if someone messages me but it’s like 7:00 AM my time, nobody’s like, “Why aren’t you answering my messages?” For required meetings, at least on the engineering side, we’re pretty light on those, sprint rituals, standup retro planning refinement, one-on-ones with your manager. Those are usually the required ones.
Ann Zeng: We really encourage people to sit in on other meetings. So there’s an engineering department wide round table, there’s a company-wide demo space for engineers to show off like, “These are the things that we’re working on.” I love to lurk in different Slack channels just to see what’s going on. We really encourage people to get involved or to just spread transparency about the progress of work, that kind of stuff. Like Caitlin and Breanna said, we’re trying to solve problems in the national defense space and we want to do it with some full people. I’m really excited to meet everyone. Please feel free to come by to the booths. Thanks.
Angie Chang: Thank you so much for these great introduction to you all and the roles and the teams. We’re going to meet you in your booth in about 10 minutes. And now, we’re going to move on to our next session. Thank you so much, Vannevar ladies!
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Sukrutha Bhadouria: Sanchika Gupta and Tutu. The talk’s title is “Beyond the Algorithm: the Human Element in Developing Trustworthy AI”. Welcome, ladies.
Yunwen Tu: Thank you. Thanks everyone for joining the session today. Today we will share our thoughts and learning about building trustworthy AI. First of all, we will share a little bit more about ourselves, ourselves. My name is Yunwen, go by Tutu. I’m a user experience designer. I enjoy using design as an approach to learn and solve problems for people in both digital and physical way.
Sanchika Gupta: Hey, I’m Sanchika. I’m a data scientist with experience in the field of technology, cybersecurity, and human-centered AI. In a former life, I was a computer science professor, though while we are building the human-centered trustworthy AI and have been working with each other. I’m generally curious about this thought of what is the human involvement in building the trustworthy AI.
Sanchika Gupta: There are the three topics that we are going to discuss in this talk today. The uncertainty and concerns of AI development. How do we build and maintain trust relationship in AI and the unique value of human expertise in the age of AI.
Yunwen Tu: What’s your reason, conversation, or search about AI? For me, I chatted with my designer friends, and we talk about how AI can streamline some of our work, and is there anything can be replaced by it so that we can do things faster, such as making icons or some simple websites.
Yunwen Tu: We also talk about the new design trends that brought by the new development of AI. Since the breakthrough of the large development in large language model, more people have exposed to this technology and learn about the possibility how AI can be applied to their work. Lately, I have even heard users, they share that they have the desire to add this and that function using AI in their product after their self-education.
Yunwen Tu: In general, I got a sense that many of us are concerned and uncertain about the impact that AI can bring to us or our society. We start wondering, has the time finally come, is finally replacing us now? As we already see AI in is applied in many fields such as healthcare, automobile and et cetera. I ask my co-speaker Sanchika, where do you feel AI has already made a big impact and what kind of role is AI playing?
Sanchika Gupta: Automation of AI may lead to replacement of certain human roles. However, AI also presents us with newer opportunities and creates our jobs easier. Let me talk about certain examples where I feel AI has been present around for so, so many decades now, and it already feels as a partner. First example that I would like to talk about is natural language processing.
Sanchika Gupta: AI has significantly improved natural language processing capabilities. There are virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, which utilize the AI algorithm to understand and respond to voice commands. Now, it may seem a little trivial to talk about these because they have become a part of our daily lives, and I personally use them on a daily basis to like set up reminders, ask about the weather, ask it to provide directions for a destination while in the car, making our daily lives more convenient and efficient.
Sanchika Gupta: Another example I would like to give is of natural language translation. There are platforms like Google Translate, which leverage AI algorithms to provide real time translations between different languages. If you go to a country where they don’t speak your language, you can still communicate effectively. I have done it myself so many times. With this, I want to say that AI may automate tasks that require basic skills while human can focus on higher level responsibilities, harnessing creativity and imagination.
Sanchika Gupta: The next question is how can we have more access to the system so that we can use AI as a partner? Generally speaking, education and awareness are crucial in fostering trust in ai. Trust is very essential for building a reliable, transparent, and available use of system. AI has been present in various forms for many decades now., even during my university studies, I delved into the neural networks topic and AI’s potential to replace job was already circulating at that time.
Sanchika Gupta: However, the conversation around trustworthy AI only gained prominence with the emergence of large language models, instances of AI generated hallucinations where the system just make stuff up, started gaining attention while getting a recommendation for an unwanted TV show may have minimal impact. A recent incident in which an AI system made a judgment on a legal case without the attorney’s verification highlighted the potential consequence. These recent repercussions have brought the issue of trustworthiness to the forefront, causing it to enter the collective consciousness of all of us.
Sanchika Gupta: Let me throw another example on you and you tell me which would you prefer. If we were to compare a trust in an AI driven car accident versus a human driven car accident, what would you choose the second time? My opinion as humans, we tend to trust other humans more than AI. How can we bridge the gap?
Sanchika Gupta: I believe that by focusing on AI literacy, upskilling collaboration, and ethical considerations, us individuals can also be empowered to embrace AI as a tool to enhance our skills, productivity and relevance in the job market. Now, I would like to ask Tutu, how do you as a designer build and maintain trust relationship in ai?
Yunwen Tu: As a designer, I started this journey by understanding the technology, especially why AI failed and why people don’t trust AI. The major distrust I learned in AI is the lack of transparency. We haven’t considered enough that trustworthiness is a high priority in building that.
Yunwen Tu: Many AI models feel like a giant black box sitting between the input and output. We don’t, we don’t know how it works and it just did it work. When handling very mundane tasks such as grammar correction, language translation, it’s great when they’re magically done by machines. But when it comes to like riskier cases with bigger impacts such as loan approval, it’s impossible to rely on a black box like this, which you don’t even know if can understand 10% of your problem. There are also potential ethical biases in a model that needs to be monitored closely.
Yunwen Tu: We help user increase the transparency, the observability and the visibility to make the process and the model more interpretable and explainable in their context work. That’s also baked in our design principles.
Yunwen Tu: And as part of our design principles, we also use design thinking method that to work with our users to understand what does trust mean to them, and discover how AI can solve their business problems in a trustworthy way. For here, I would like to give you two examples that we use the user interviews and other thinking methods to solve problems for our users.
Yunwen Tu: The first example that we are working with an insurance company to reduce their business loss. Through many rounds of discovery interviews with underwriters and their managers, we actually found their primary challenge is not about finding the best algorithm to analyze their internal data.
Yunwen Tu : Instead, they want to understand better how the events happened in the past 10 decades that had impact their current business performance. In the meanwhile, we feel everything moves way faster now. For our underwriters, they need to quickly catch up with all the new updates such as the regulation change, the new settlements of lawsuits in their professional area. In the end, we build a tool that use natural language processing to help our user to connect the dots and find the needle in the ocean of internet data, which is the result we would not expect if we didn’t spend that much time to talk with our users.
Yunwen Tu: The second example I would like to share is related to our ops platform. And as part of my UX research, I regularly chat with different users such as data scientists, business ops, and et cetera.
Yunwen Tu: I found the expectations from our data scientists on monitoring AI models are very different from other general business users. They’re not looking for a no code or a fully automated experience. Instead, their philosophy is not to trust the data, not to trust the model until they have seen enough evidence to take action. It’s very crucial for us to deliver those insights clearly and efficiently.
Yunwen Tu: From our users, I actually learned trust is not purely top performance, not the best performing model. Trust means making informative decisions after peeling off the complexity and the root causes. Now Sanchika, what does trust mean to you as a data scientist and how have you built trust in your practice?
Sanchika Gupta: Demystifying the AI systems and ensuring reliability helps human use them with confidence. There are certain visible limitations of AI, for example, drift observability, root cause analysis, bias and ethical use are important to establish trust. So let me explain with an example how I establish trust in AI.
Sanchika Gupta: We as data scientists do not tend to trust our model or data. Instead, try to gather enough evidence around it and then be able to trust it. Let me talk you through that process.
Sanchika Gupta: Let’s consider a case of an AI driven customer service chat bot used by an e-commerce company. The AI chat bot is deployed to handle customer inquiries and support requests. Over time, they noticed that there is a decrease in the customer satisfaction scores and there is an increase in the unresolved issues.
Sanchika Gupta: The first step at this point, which I as a data scientist would like to do is to check on the model performance, let’s say, model performance evaluation, reveal that there is a decline in the chatbot’s accuracy and performance compared to previous months indicating a potential issue. Then we can begin closely monitoring the chatbot’s interactions and collect data on input queries, chatbot responses and user feedback. Now by looking at all of this data, closely plotting it, we might be able to identify certain patterns or anomalies in the chat bot’s behavior. During all of this observability and analysis, let’s say that we were able to identify a set of queries that consistently receive incorrect or nonsensical response from the chat bot. Now these queries stand out as potential outliers as they significantly deviate from the expected behavior. Then the next step could be to, let’s say, look at drift analysis on the chat bots performance.
Sanchika Gupta: We can compare key metricses like customer satisfaction scores, response accuracy, and resolution rates over different time periods. During this analysis, we notice there is a significant decline in performance starting around the same time as there was an update in chatbot’s knowledge base. Based on all these findings, we start the root cause analysis and discover that the update to the chatbot’s knowledge base introduced some incorrect or incomplete information resulting in chatbots diminished performance.
Sanchika Gupta: Through this example, we observe how model performance analysis, observability, outlier detection and drift analysis collectively contribute to the identification of the root cause leading to targeted corrective actions for enhancing the chatbots performance. This provides a glimpse into the case that I mentioned above showcasing the methods employed to established trust in an AI system. This also demonstrates the importance of human involvement in analyzing and improving the AI system, reinforcing the notion that despite all of its capabilities, AI cannot fully replace human judgment and decision making.
Sanchika Gupta: Now this leads to my third question that we would like to discuss here. What is the unique value of human expertise in this age of AI? Now again, creativity, imagination, and diverse opinions are very unique to humans. If let’s say there were to be a discussion, we humans can participate in a discussion and arrive at different conclusions in the same situation
Sanchika Gupta: At the same time, AI lacks the ability to participate in a discussion as an equal lacking both opinions or any standing in human conversations. Now let me quote another example here. New neural networks founder Professor Jeffrey Hinton, six years back in 2016 said, we won’t need radiologists to analyze scans and image perceptional hams can do all the scanning and diagnosis by themselves. Six years have gone by and we are nowhere nearby. It is not because of compute power or resources because I feel that compute power and resources have only been growing in the last couple of years.
Sanchika Gupta: What I believe is that AI can only solve very well-defined problems. What happens when it is posed with ill-defined problems? That is where human ingenuity comes in. All AI attempts to do is to recreate memory and computation capability of human brain. But what makes human a human is not just being able to solve the task, but be able to synthesize the complexity of this world and make decisions on the basis of that. Now, at this point, I would like to ask Tutu to give her thought process around this topic.
Yunwen Tu: Thank you, Sanchika. Those are great takeaways and what you just shared also, remind me again the user interview process in our design method. We do that to understand user’s journey and the pain points, and then present a personal story that summarize our learnings and the synthesis. Sometimes I feel AI is like an abstract persona that is summarized in a way with a well-designed cover and well-defined title. However, when we are doing the interview, the persona story, it’s not about creating an abstract figure, but to emphasize with our users’ needs, their feelings and the the reason why they’re making those decisions. There are all, and also this process are all done through our communication and synthesis in person. But AI does not learn new insights as we do in those contexts. They also don’t understand the complexity of the world like us.
Yunwen Tu: For example, when I read the news, the debates on the news, when I also work with different people, design for different users, I always feel so, and this comes from our unique experience, our desire and the belief that makes us like diverse, unexpected. And sometimes we argue we also have conflicting ideas, but this also made the world and humans like very unique that AI cannot replace with. That covers all we want to share today. Thanks for staying with us. And if we have a little bit more time, please feel free to ask us question now or reach out to us afterward. Thank you all.
Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you. Thank you ladies. Yes I would definitely encourage everyone to reach out to you both on and ask their questions on LinkedIn. Let’s keep the conversations going and I really encourage everybody to rewatch this content, share this content as much as possible with everybody. We really appreciate the time that you’ve taken out Sanchika and Tutu. Thank you everyone for attending. Bye everyone.
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Angie Chang: With us today, we have Rahmira Rufus. She is a next-generation enterprise security architect, a university professor, academic and industry scientist. Welcome, Rahmira.
Rahmira Rufus: Thank you. Thank you very much, Angie. Hello everyone. Very honored to be here to share with all of the insights, all of the wonderful things that’s happening at ELEVATE this session. Like Angie said, my name is Dr. Rahmira Rufus. I’ve run a gamut of things that I’ve done in the cyberspace – lot of technical work with the elements that she spoke about, contracting areas, purely and academic. This element focuses more on a lot of the outreach work that I like to do that I’m not really able to dive into within, you know, places of employment and things of that nature. That’s what I’m gonna talk to you about today. I thought this would be a really good topic to bring up at a Career Fair, as folks are trying to find their way and navigate through the employment process, excuse me, workforce and academia and that whole gambit, that pipeline.
Rahmira Rufus: I’m gonna dive right in. Like I said, the title is Exposing Gaps in Cybersecurity Workforce and Education. I like to say that this particular work or slide deck is stemming from some work that had a different direction. This is more of a tangent of that work. I’ll start by addressing why are we even doing this analysis? Originally we wanted to find out what was happening within the cybersecurity paradigm as far as that pipeline for supply and demand. The workforce for the talent and things of that nature. What we discovered is that this is not a unique problem. This actually occurs in other industries. One in particular biomedical things of that nature, where you have very specialized kind of criteria for resourcing talent and staffing needs.
Rahmira Rufus: What we discovered here that’s the reason why we’re doing a gap analysis. A gap analysis is a very simplistic term. We’re trying to see what are those kind of hindrances, are those kind of blockers for where a particular environment or situation is at an actual level of performance? How do you get to a desired level? How that relates here through this series that I use when I work with my clients, how that relates here is that we’re trying to see what is this huge disparity against folks trying to either jump into the cyber field, maneuver within their career path, or transition to higher levels, or, even in some ways, try to make an entire pivot in another direction. What we discovered in this work was that there are some elements that are not being taken into consideration that makes the process a little more convoluted than it needs to be. That’s pretty much what we’re addressed. If there’s anything someone needs me to go back, just let me know. but other than that, I’m gonna dive right into it.
Rahmira Rufus: What we started was, we looked at a generalized problem,. What’s happening within the cybersecurity workforce and basically feeling that void of the workforce, of the talent that’s out there and the talent that’s more importantly needed. We started at a global scale, and the diagram to the left, the far left, is what we collected as data, globally. Every single place on the planet is not represented, but we try to get a proper representation of the skillset and those particular numbers that we would thought were relevant for the sample population that we were looking at.
Rahmira Rufus: We saw a disparity when in the US and wanted to focus there. Now, I do want to say the data that was collected for this very huge gap that shows for China, <laugh> and India, there is some emphasis there. However, that’s not a part of the scope of this talk, but that is something that as time progresses, we would like to see if we could journey into that gap.
Rahmira Rufus: We have some assumptions, but, you know, since we’re scientists, we’re not allowed to do that. We actually have to follow a process. Right now we’re in pretty early qualitative work with that study. If I dive over to the area that we’re looking at, we then wanted to focus in the United States. In my next slide, I want to show where we started seeing some disparities. I’m taking those two slides over the far right and they’re on the far right on this slide. We had looked at basically a percentage in a kind of you empirical actual value for each one of the data points for the job openings up against, compared against the employed workforce, right? The diagram on the right looks like it kind of flows in a normal fashion.
Rahmira Rufus: The problem is that the diagram in the middle, we saw little disparity around 2021, moving into this year. It didn’t quite match, it wasn’t like a huge disparity, but that triangle with that slant at the bottom, that that variation was really, really off. We said, okay, look, let’s dive into more granular elements. And we started looking at for state, and once again, every state ends represented here, but this is a sample population that we think would be a best representation. We noticed was by state that matched or was similar, kind of congruent to the, the diagram on the far right, but we were still concerned about that percentage. Why did we get a percentage that did not look like the two diagrams that basically are on the far left and the far li right of the middle one?
Rahmira Rufus: That’s where we started diving into what we considered to be this problem. And the reason why this is important for this particular forum is because in the next few slides, you’re gonna start to see some of the reasons why when folks are looking to streamline and understand exactly what they want to do in cyber, it’s a little more complex than than you actually thought from us just taking that tally that you saw on the previous slide, a very general approach to trying to solve or answer this question.
Rahmira Rufus: What we discovered was that approach was a little off because we didn’t look at the true nature or components that were involved with the supply and this demand. Now if we jump to this slide, we’re talking about a simple supply and demand problem, right? We then associated demand with the knowledge, the education that’s requested, as you see in the chart in the top, and then we looked at entry-level jobs and then against paired up against their requested education. If you notice in each one of these charts, it seems like folks in the bachelor’s degree area, they’re winning, right? For these particular cyber skills. Then, you have some luck in the kind of the sub, those are pretty much a lot of the associate degrees, junior college, but also a lot of the certifications and licensing that people engage in when they either have done a lot of higher education / learning, or they could be adult learners, it could be all kinds of different reasons, but they don’t necessarily go through a traditional degree program.
Rahmira Rufus: Then you see the graduate level of folks having that kind of smaller percentage of kind of matching a little bit of the sub bas. Now, what is funny, thank you. What is kind of funny here is that in actuality, because you know, I’m a teacher / professor as well in my background, I notice that’s not true to what’s happening here. Students, uh, adult learners, uh, folks in the field trying to figure out where they are, where their next step is gonna be, what’s their next direction, they’re not having the success that’s being represented in these charts. What we had then decided, okay, since we’re talking about supply and demand, well now let’s look at the supply side. Now let’s look at the workforce. What we had discovered was that this was a much more complicated problem than we thought, than someone just saying, Hey, I would like to get into the cyber field and I’m just gonna protect, I’m just gonna pick this particular area and I should be fine.
Rahmira Rufus: I’m just gonna grow here in years. Now an example that I will give, and not to shed any kind of negative light or anything on this particular field, but if we look at fields like psychology, most folks know this is something that’s been told by everybody in that field. Psychology, psychiatry. If you are not pursuing the master’s or PhD level, you’re gonna have a difficult time finding the type of placement that you thought you would being that breakthrough psychologist or psychiatrist. That’s something that’s a normal situation in that field. From what I’ve told, it’s been worked on over the years, but that’s usually something that’s been accepted in this space. That’s not necessarily the case. There are absolutely so many options and so many variations of what you can do, not only in cyber, but if you go down into its larger focus, like a computer science or pure network admin, or you name it, this becomes a little convoluted.
Rahmira Rufus: Now, I’m being very, very nice with this slide. Thank you. I’m being very, very nice with this slide because the next slide I’ll show is actually a very large data set that we had to work through so that I could bring you such a pretty visual right here as far as just some of the things that you have to take into consideration when you’re trying to think about what’s going to be your cybersecurity career path journey.
Rahmira Rufus: One thing really quick, I want to note if folks are paying attention right here to this graph over here, notice how low security intelligence is, I can give you a little hint of that. Remember, this is a trend, a growing field. Right now, the reason why this number is so small, that is actually being developed as a track.
Rahmira Rufus: All of the data analysis, all of the business intelligence, all of the different elements out there are now being able to be fueled and tunneled into a path that’s going to be security intelligence. Just letting you all know, look for that on horizon. However, these other tracks, they had experienced the same thing previously. That is another added complexity to this field, as things change, as things morph, as we’re talking about the next generation of computing, how do you know where to go, where you’re at, what you need to be? was able to break down some of this in some of these charts, but, I think everyone can kinda understand what’s going on here. Right here, you’re talking about, we’re, we’re usually using like as the little bit of a control, right?
Rahmira Rufus: The job opening, say, nationwide. Then you have to look at the entry-level jobs versus the knowledge that you would need. Then also you’d have to look at the skills and knowledge that would be required for particular sets. And then on top of that, what type of certifications and licensing would I need to perfectly be where I wanna be or where it is I’m trying to go see just that quick. On the next slide, as I said, this is just to give you an example. We have so many repositories that we pulled this information from, and I was only able to get 25 in these tiny little visuals on this screen. That is not something we want you to do. What does this mean to all of you? All right, here’s a little in the second slide you saw that I was gonna talk about dilemma, and then I’m gonna jump into the, what I think is a quick solution.
Rahmira Rufus: Here’s a method that you could help you without having to go through all of that granularity that we discovered in this process. One, be proactive, right here is a diagram of a chart, right? That’s all of the data that you see before, and I’m going to have this recorded, basically provided for you in the next two slides is from platforms like cyber seek.org, ISC squared, the, their platform, their education focus of the nice framework, things of that nature. You can go and get all of this data, get all of this information, and you can get metrics about these particular fields, right? Right here is a combined chart, a visual where you should go out there instead of waiting to go to an employer or waiting to figure out what’s out there or talk to your professor or whatever, kind of overindulgent process that you normally do.
Rahmira Rufus: You go out and be proactive and find out what these, what these particular roles and these skillsets are, and start diagramming them and them in a skillset similar to this slide. Now, to break it down even more, and I said to DIY – do it yourself – break them down into different skill sets that you find to be requested skills. And like I said, and these particular prac platforms, you can go to the go there to find this information. Right here, this is basically a broken down version of the slide you just saw. And you can pick particular skills and find out where you measure right now, right? And what is it that you’re gonna need to either increase that proficiency or, you know, whatever it is that you’re trying to kind of get at, right?
Rahmira Rufus: Be realistic with yourself, okay? Because this is about improving you and making yourself a much more viable product as you move forward. Use elements like that to set yourself up for success. Some real quick wins, as I said – I can tell you about – is do your own analysis. Like I said throughout this slide, you don’t have to dive deep like we did with the tangent that we found as a new area of research for the disparity in the path between the cybersecurity workforce and its talent and resourcing, but at least try to leverage different areas, like I said, cyberseek.org, these different platforms.
Rahmira Rufus: On top of that, when you actually capture all of these roles, develop proficiencies with analytic service or, data, data analysis… You can leverage different visualizations, power bi, you know, build your chops in those areas or create diagrams or metrics like these. I will let us say, since this is a Career Fair, these types of visualizations go very, very well in front of potential employers. Department heads, You know, folks that are trying to move up within an organization and even for folks that have their own endeavors, you know, clients like to be able to see the skillset and, proficiency of your talent, of your personnel, and being able to provide these types of metrics really, really set the right type of parameters for what you want to show as one, being proactive and kind of owning your area.
Rahmira Rufus: Some of the other things do self-assessments and skills inventory, slightly like the one that I just showed you in the previous two slides. Try to keep a skills inventory. If these things ever come up, you can tell people, “Hey, I’m at a level three or six at this particular coding element” (or this particular project management software, whatever it is). Gauge where you are and know where you’re headed, right? Or where you’re trying to go. Put your skills to the test battle, test your elements, okay. And things of that nature. I’m sorry, Angie, are you gonna say something?
Angie Chang: I was gonna say thank you so much for this talk. We’re at time, but we will say that you are on LinkedIn and people can connect with you there. Thank you so much, Rahmira.
Rahmira Rufus: Thank you. I hope everyone enjoy my talk and enjoy the career fair. Best of luck and be the best You.
Angie Chang: Thank you.
Rahmira Rufus: Thank you. Bye-bye.
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Sukrutha Bhadouria: Soundarya is a seasoned senior product manager currently leading growth for small and medium businesses on Instagram. Before Meta, she was a lead product manager at Yelp, where she’s spearheaded a team managing over 10,000 US restaurants. She launched Yelp waitlist kiosk, driving growth and innovation in the restaurant technology industry. Welcome, Soundarya.
Soundarya Chandar: Thanks. Excited to be here and really distill and share what I’ve learned over the years. I’ll kick off this talk on acing product management interviews with a little bit about me. This year is special because I’m celebrating a decade of being a PM in the Bay Area, which has meant that I’ve worked at different companies and I’ve been an interviewee over 200 times, and I’ve been on the hiring panel maybe about half of that time. As I was prepping for this talk, the stat actually surprised me too, and I was like, whoa, that is a lot of information and insights that I’ve gained over the years.
Soundarya Chandar: The goals for today’s talk are twofold. After being in over 200 interviews, I realized I did half of them quite mindlessly. I followed all the prep tips that you felt that you read on the internet, and I will be honest interviewing did feel like a second job. Sometimes the search took months and there would be times where I get through the onsite rounds and things don’t work out, and it really sucked because I was back to square one trying to look for the for the next gig. However, today I’m at a point where I actually love the interview process and the task, both being an interviewee, but also being on the side of an interview panel.
Soundarya Chandar: Today I wanna walk through a little bit of how that mindset shift happened for me and how that my day-to-day job played a big role in it. And the second goal I want to highlight for today is how developing this continuous learning mindset is so important, and it took me a long time to get there. I’d really want to help you all see the value of building your skillset, especially – this is so tough because as a PM our job day-to-day jobs are already so difficult. There’s so much context switching, there’s just so much your task to-do list is never ending, and there’s a life outside of work that we want to participate and be present in. There’s a way to actually get around it, especially as we think about time and balancing work and time and investing in our skill sets.
Soundarya Chandar: Before I jump in, I wanted to take a step back and talk about perspective – on things that we absolutely cannot control. Especially now, the market conditions are so tough. And, and all of this, just as we were starting to feel like we were recovering from a global pandemic crisis. There’s the economy, there’s the market conditions, there’s global factors, politics, policies that are changing. Every company seems to have a different hiring process. And of course, we are at the age of AI, and there’s technology advancements are happening so fast that it’s, it sometimes feels hard to really keep up with it. As PMs, we like to be in control a lot – so when all of these things are happening, it can feel pretty depressing and deplete our energy resources. Which brings me to my next point on what can be actually controlled here.
Soundarya Chandar: In my opinion, the only thing that you can control is in investing in your skillset. This is something that you keep building growing and it sort of never leaves you. The closest analogy is, of course, if you regularly go to the gym, your physical fitness is going to get better. The more experience you gain, you in theory will get better at decision making. We often forget that how important and critical it is to keep developing our skillset. I really believe that by focusing on building our skillset, we can actually showcase all of that very easily in an interview setting.
Soundarya Chandar: Let’s talk a little bit about what these skill sets are. The first time I looked at this map, I felt pretty overwhelmed. This is a resource that I picked from this really amazing PM coach I follow on Twitter – Shreyas Doshi – who has been a PM leader at many different companies in the Bay Area. This skillset map looks so daunting – like where do you even start?
Soundarya Chandar: The good news is – if you’ve been a PM for some time, you’re already flexing a lot of these skills in many different ways. But, we don’t often take a step back to think about how we are calibrating. Are we actually building and sharpening these specific skill sets? Early on in my career when I was interviewing, I used my intuition a lot. That is just something that I’m naturally drawn to. I would research the companies, I would research the products, I would have all these ideas of how they can improve it. In a way, I was really getting good at building my product sense, and I would do really well in those interviews.
Soundarya Chandar: But when it came to some other aspects of interviewing, like analytics, storytelling, communication, something or the other would just wouldn’t work out. When I started later on interviewing at FANG companies where the interview structure is very closely aligned to how you measure your skillset, I worked with a program online, which I can share later that, that modeled the interview set up along the lines of the skillset. I was doing more mock [interview]s and getting more into the program, I realized the side effect, which was that I’m getting better at my day job.
Soundarya Chandar: I realized that I’m avoiding doing certain things at work because it was just not a skill that I felt really confident in. The a-ha moment for me was, oh, I’m doing these mocks. I’m improving the skillset. How do I do that in my daily job? A typical product sense question would look something like this. You are the PM for an amusement park. How do you improve the visitor experience? The old me would jump at this question. I would have all these ideas buzzing in my head, but I needed to learn to pause, breathe, remember, what am I really trying to answer here? Remember the user, remember the pain points? Remember what business outcome I’m trying to drive? Because that is the structure ideally that you follow in an interview, but you of course adapt it to your style.
Soundarya Chandar: If you actually think about it in your day job, you, you are constantly exercising and flexing these skills when you write a PRD or when you’re doing a product review or a strategy session where you are honing in on who the user is, who’s your audience, and why should that audience care? When you’re working with your designer, either whiteboarding sessions, you are mapping out the various happy parts and unhappy parts, or when you’re talking to your partner teams, if you wanna get some collaboration opportunities identified. At all times you are actually flexing your products and skills.
Soundarya Chandar: Similarly, a common question would be, you are the PM for talk’s feed. How would you set goals for your team? You may not. It’s a hypothetical scenario, of course. You start to think about, oh, what’s talk’s mission? Who are its users? What are their pain points? How do I measure the impact? Again? But again, you’re doing all of these things when you write your PRD when you’re setting up OKRs, maybe you’re debugging an issue, you noticed a dip in your metrics and you’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Or if you’re talking to XFN folks on tradeoffs, like, which features should we build? What has a better opportunity size? What will give us a more higher ROI?
Soundarya Chandar: To me, the shift really happened when I started to see the value of doing interview prep, the skills that it tests for, and how often we actually get to apply it in our day-to-day job. If an interview setting is so similar to a job setting, why aren’t we all acing our product management interviews? Well, obviously because there are some key differences, right? There’s time constraints. In an interview setting, you are you know, you’re given like 30 minutes, 40 minutes to solve that question. There is a lot at stake because you’re trying to prove who you are. There’s a lot about how you come across and how you are a fit for the role.
Soundarya Chandar: You’re interacting for the very first time with hiring panels, so you’re trying to make a great first impression and you’re evaluated on your ability to communicate clearly at all times. And this process can go on for many hours in a single day. But in your daily job, this is like a continuous process and you’re evaluated based on the success of the product. You’re interacting with customers, you’re interacting with your team members who you feel more comfortable with. There’s obviously some key differences, but I do believe that if we start to look at them slightly differently, start to look at how our daily job is preparing us for the next interview and how the interview process of prep preparation makes us better at our daily job. It can actually make the whole process much better give us more fulfillment from a career standpoint. And it does certainly work like that for me.
Soundarya Chandar: I think there’s two very important things of a mindset shift that needed to change. One is, how do I think about time and how intentional am I in taking the time to step back and think about how I did in my day job? It’s very rare that I’m actually questioning was my, this was my PRD number two better than PRD number one was, what was my opportunity sizing or my intuition on how a feature would perform? Is it improving over time?
Soundarya Chandar: A lot of times we do retros for the team to improve team processes, team culture, but very rarely do we apply that retro to our personal growth. The difference is, we certainly do it when we are prepping for an interview, but I really believe that not doing that on a regular basis, not allocating the time to check in and see how we are improving our own skillset, we’re missing out on the compounding effect it could have when it comes time to looking for the next gig.
Soundarya Chandar: This is a cool image I like to look at. This is a grid, from this blog “Wait But Why” – If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend that you do. This entire grid, both on the left and right is about 1780 hours in a day that is divided into 10 minute little squares. Obviously a big part of our day is occupied by work. All I’m saying is that we need to set aside three to four little blocks. It doesn’t have to be contiguous, but for this intentional practice of investing in ourselves and building our skillset and using that eight R chunk to actually keep flexing and checking in on how we’re building those skillset.
Soundarya Chandar: One of my mentors, she has a CPO role at a high growth company, two kids, does a lot to contribute and give back to the community, product community broadly. She was telling me how she finds time to journal every day. If you look at all the big leaders, they always talk about all these books and podcasts that they’re reading. It’s because I think somewhere along the lines, people have started to internalize how important it is to build this intentional practice of reading and really sharpening our skillset.
Soundarya Chandar: When it comes time to interview, when you’re actually ready to look for that next role, that intentional practice time block is probably occupied by mock interviews, which in my opinion is the most effective way to get conf to gain confidence while you’re interviewing. All the skills that you’ve been practicing in your work by recalling and being intentional about every time you have a conversation on who the user is, what their pain points are, by reflecting on it every single day or every now and then, that’s habit sort of naturally flows in to a mock interview time or in interview time when, when you’re just sort of then focused on keeping to the structure, keeping to the time constraint, but you’re more creative, you’re more insightful, you bring about net new ideas because you’ve been already practicing that previously.
Soundarya Chandar: Here are some ideas that has really worked for me about how to build that intentional practice, this image on the right, something I absolutely love. It used to be my screensaver for the longest time because it took me a long time to internalize this, the power of being consistent. This image on the right is about how the more consistent you are, the further you can get, but the more inconsistent you are, the harder it is to get to that next level. Certainly for me, when I started interview in my first early days of interviewing, I was pretty inconsistent. I would only care to reflect about what I learned, how the features, like how do I frame the success of the feature? How would I do it differently when it came time to interviewing? But now I’ve built a more consistent habit of writing, of occasionally sharing on the internet of what I think.
Soundarya Chandar: That has really helped change how I do my day-to-day job and also practice for interviews, pausing and critiquing products you see every day. This is an idea that I stole from Julie Zhuo, who’s a XPM design lead at Meta. She’s written a book on making the manager. She’s an amazing writer, highly recommend if you don’t already follow her to check her newsletter out. She talks about how there’s products all around us. All we need is to set that intentional time aside to think about, oh, what is it about this product that’s different?
Soundarya Chandar: The new Apple Vision Pro headset just launched yesterday. Did we take the time to think about, oh, it’s $3,500. Who would pay for it? What other use cases exist? Even if that’s just on a own, on your own personal notes, that is building intentional practice that really helps build a muscle. And the last thing about around numbers and execution. When I was prepping for execution rounds, I would study like what the population of the of United States is. What is that of California? And now when I look my look at my MAU, DAU numbers, or if I look at the stats of OpenAI and ChatGPT, I’m trying to actively put that in perspective.
Soundarya Chandar: Some closing thoughts on this. A mentor once told me that your next job is really a stepping stone for the job after that. That’s how you sort of build this practice of thinking about your career and you’re being more intentional about it, and you’re building the skillset that will take you to that next level. I’ve already talked a lot about making the time to invest in sharpening your skillset, but I also wanted to highlight the importance of, you know, occasionally paying for it.
Soundarya Chandar: Do courses, attend conferences to step back and gain some perspective. And then lastly, consider interviewing even if you’re not actively looking. One, you never know what job opportunity you may be passing up on. Two, it’ll quickly tell you where you stand and what you need to pay attention to in your daily job so that you can keep flexing that skillset muscle.
Soundarya Chandar: Lastly, I wanted to share this really cool visual on product manager competencies. It’s from Ravi Mehta’s blog. He’s also a very famous PM leader. If you notice that the top half of the section, as you start off early on in your PM career, your focus is on the top half of the circle, which is really about feature specification, data fluency, voice of the customer. As you grow, the competencies that you need to actually develop are completely different. By the time you get to a VP or CPO level, it flips to the other half of the circle.
Soundarya Chandar: This was pretty interesting for me to look at because it’s very easy for us to forget that when we want to get to that next level, we need to be intentionally building the skillset that’s going to be exercised at that next level. In closing, really making the time, being intentional using our day job to sharpen our skillset, which, trust me, will help you in your interview. I will set you up for success. That’s it. Good luck with your journey today.
Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much, Soundarya. This was wonderful. Thanks everyone who attended.
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Angie Chang: With us today, we have Cindy Deng who is a leadership coach working with leaders to in tech to succeed in their careers while enjoying life. She has been working for over 20 years in the tech industry and her experience includes over five years at Google. She has worked as a business analyst, program manager and a product manager. Welcome, Cindy.
Cindy Deng: Thanks Angie. It’s great to be here today. Hi everyone. I’m here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hello to those of you also here, and everyone else in the world. All right, we’re gonna start with a little brief story.
Cindy Deng: It was really early in my career when I hit this one critical point. I remember doing this one offsite at this beach to staring at the ocean, feeling really overwhelmed. You see, before that point in my early career, I had amazing managers for a good stretch of time. I worked hard deliver results and there was felt like it was a clear path. My scope increased over time and I became a manager, and honestly I didn’t think much about career development at all that much at the time. Or if somebody were to ask me, I probably wouldn’t even really know what that meant. <laugh>
Cindy Deng: Hardworking seems to simply led to good outcomes at the time. It felt straightforward, and then one day things changed. We had new leadership in place and everything felt different. I was no longer working with managers that knew my history and my strength and many of my new colleagues had really opposite style from mine and they were excellent at advocating for their ideas, it’s just amazing. But me on the other hand, I prefer deep analysis and I was a bit shy at speaking up in meetings, especially because English was not my native language.
Cindy Deng: Even though I liked the people I was working with, I didn’t feel equipped to navigate the changes and I felt lost. That day, I was sitting on the beach, I felt like I was in the middle of that ocean and just like waiting for the waves to come crashing down on me, but all of a sudden down on me that I could sit there and felt sorry for myself or I could get up and learn how to surf that wave.
Cindy Deng: I didn’t actually learn how to surf, but I could learn how to navigate the unpredictable changes and ultimately my career was up to me. A lot has happened since then. After about 20 years of working with engineering teams, I realized, while I really like working on products, I actually enjoy working with people even more. I now primarily work with female leaders in tech to navigate career challenges and elevate their leadership skills. What I’ve noticed in the last few years is that while career development is on most people’s mind these days, unlike that younger version of it’s not always obvious what to do, which is what brought me here today.
Cindy Deng: Today we’ll talk about how we can apply product management thinking into managing our careers. It’s just one of the many possible approaches to tackle this, but it’s certainly not the only way. Hopefully this will become another tool for you on your career journey.
Cindy Deng: Where are you on your career journey? Which one of these fields that resonate more with where you’re at? Are you looking at taking the next leap to reach for the next big thing? Whether that thing is a big project or promotion or something else that you’re excited about or are you more on the crossroad trying to figure out where to go next? It could be a pretty significant shift of your career direction changing type of roles that you have been working as or you’re moving from IC to a manager or potentially vice versa, whatever it is.
Cindy Deng: You might be debating options and considering how to navigate from where you are to the future direction or perhaps you’ve accomplished a lot in your career so far and you’re looking at how do you carefully balance all things that you’ve accomplished and what’s important to you and what do you do to put on top of that stack of stones while maintaining that balance – whether it’s health, fun, family, relationships or something else.
Cindy Deng: Throughout the talk today, we’ll be kind of going through a number of questions, kind of like this, really for you to think about where you are at, where you wanna go, and if it serves you, feel free to put in your thoughts in the chat or grab a notepad and then jot things down along the way. Yeah, I see some people already starting doing that. That’s great. And as you continue, what we’re talking about today really is a general framework. You can apply the formula and adapt it yourself and regardless where you are at with your journey. Throughout my career I worked on products most of my time. One way or another. I enjoy working with customers to understand their needs, figure out solutions with designers and engineers and delivering products ultimately make users’ lives better.
Cindy Deng: Over the last few years, as I consider how people navigate their career journeys and reflect on my own, it hit me one day, what if we were to look at ourselves as products? If you think about a product leader that you admire, whether it’s somebody you work with or somebody you observe from far, far away that on the stage, how would they approach a product that they’re passionate about? What would be their vision for it and what would be the strategy and how they approach it for the next few years and what would be needed during this execution so that it can launch successfully?
Cindy Deng: How would they advocate for the product that they’re passionate about to the world? Sometimes especially when we might feel stuck kind of in our journey or sometimes have a hard time talking about ourselves and thinking about your career this way gives you a little bit distance. Just backing off a little bit and thinking about what if for you with the product can potentially make it easier to think about it a little bit more objectively. What would you do? Think about this product is truly one of the kind. Anybody would be lucky to have it and one that you care deeply about. I know that because otherwise you wouldn’t be here today.
Cindy Deng: What’s the vision? For those that are ready to engage in the chat, if you just think about what’s your dream vacation look like and just pop in the chat like this one place you would go if you don’t have to worry about time or money or anything else, what would be your dream vacation look like? Just like the images here on the slide. Some people would want to go to the top of mountain and some people would want to get on a hot balloon. Some people say beaches are my way of doing lots of different ways. Everyone is different. Yeah. Like some of the answers coming in, it’s a lot of fun and one person’s dream job, it could be nightmare for someone else. Yeah. But so often we compare ourselves with others. If you don’t worry about anybody else’s opinion, what would be your vision for a successful, successful career?
Cindy Deng: Think about at the peak of your professional career, where would you wanna be? What would you wanna be doing? What role would that be and what size of the company would that be? Do you wanna be in a large size international scale? Do you wanna mid-size or small startup? What industry would that be? Do you wanna be an entrepreneur? Everyone’s answer could be totally different and every single one of those answer is perfect cuz it’s for you.
Cindy Deng: Sometimes these answers could be vague. It’s not always clear for everyone. Some people have really clear answers to say, I want to be this CXO of this one company, but for most people it’s not that clear. And it’s okay to be vague., because often when we’re trying to, even when we’re trying to go onto the highest peak, you can’t always see the highest peak sometimes, until you get past some hills before that.
Cindy Deng: It’s okay to be vague, and if you have absolutely no idea like how I was when I was growing up, I really did not like the question of what do you wanna be when you grow up? I would just make it up if I had to make an essay for it. Some of you might take jobs in the future that don’t even exist today. Who knows, right? If you don’t yet know, it’s perfectly fine.
Cindy Deng: Consider some of these questions. Reflect back on your journey. What brought you joy and what drains your energy, and what have you tried that you did not like? Consider time when things feel really good and you were in the flow, what was really good about it. These kind of questions can help you surface what’s really important to you, so you can figure out like just general direction you wanna go and if it’s kinda hard to figure it out and it’s okay to say I don’t have my vision for the next 20 years, cuz most people don’t.
Cindy Deng: What would be the direction you’d like to grow in the next few years? And just focus on that. And ideally it’s something that’s both a little bit exciting and scary cuz that would indicate things that are drawing you and also would help you grow next with a little direction or maybe a good clear vision of where you wanna go. Now it’s time to think about how do you get there. Just like planning on the road trip, you know, we have general direction where we wanna go, but there are some questions that you wanna kinda understand and the principles along the way. What are some key sights you might want to see? For example, if we were a road trip and we’re all going to Las Vegas, some people will wanna spend time in casinos and some will like make sure they pick out the best buffets to go to, and I will not want to miss any concerts or circus shows.
Cindy Deng: What kind of experience and learning do you want to gain in the next few years? When you think about the strategy, think a little bit distant, maybe the next few years or so. Do you wanna go deeper in areas that you do already enjoy, or do you wanna get a like a more breadth in areas that you may not know yet? Get a better kind of broader perspective around things? And how fast do you want to grow? Do you want to really rapid growth, or you prefer it to be a little slow and steady considering other aspects of your lives to for a better balance? And either way, it’s possible to have a rough itinerary but you want to really detail one because things are changing so rapidly these days. You can’t really just control a lot of things and think about what options might be in front of you.
Cindy Deng: There’s almost always multiple ways to get to a place and some of the options might be obvious, some may not. Sometimes you have to talk to others and discover those doors that might be hidden behind another wall that you don’t know about. And when you’re comparing options, think about what excites you. Often I talked about question yourself to say if you are looking to move to somewhere, are you running towards that option? Or you are running away from your current option if you have the time and the luxury to choose. I know sometimes people don’t, but which way do you wanna go and how do you wanna think about this?
Cindy Deng: Ideally there are little sparks that are drawing you and don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Sometimes people ask, do I wanna do this? Do I wanna do that? And it feels like I have to have a perfect option and perfect choice to optimize it all. It’s not always possible. Trust yourself that you can walk through a door and you decide from there. You can build build and you design your f way forward as always. Think about along this way also, what are some of the missing pieces that you might need? Are there new skills that you need to learn to get to the next phase?
Cindy Deng: What type of experience or opportunities that you might need in order to unlock the next opportunity? Think about what type of relationship do you need to build, whether that’s potentially mentors or sponsorships or maybe even peer support, like all the wonderful people here today in our conference. And think about the summer learning, circles potentially that will help you support you along the way. And sometimes it could be something a little less tangible like a mindset, especially if you recently transitioned to a new level or a new role. Maybe as a new manager or manager or managers.
Cindy Deng: What is something that you need to kind of change the way you think in order to lead at this level? Sometimes it’s like, how do I delegate better? How do I be more comfortable of I don’t need to be the one doing everything? Where are you spending your time thinking about the most strategic areas? Remember, what got us here sometimes doesn’t get us there. Yeah. The mindsets are important as well on your journey.
Cindy Deng: And last but not least, thinking about where you want to go and planning how to get there. Make sure you embrace your unique values. I sometimes hear people say, oh, well I don’t have a traditional background of this role. How do I go out and talk about myself? I said, that’s great. What is the unique thing that you are bringing that other people don’t have? How do you own your story and be really clear about it and be proud about that too. We can change the past, but you can think about how do you position that and then use that forward.
All right, so execution time. Not a lot different than how you would approach a work project. First, think about kind of how we prioritize things. Breaking down large large projects into smaller milestones and smaller goals. Where would you want to focus maybe for the next year or the next month? Sometimes we have too many top priorities. If the list of things that you wanna do and things you need to do are fairly long, how do you identify the one or two things to to really just pursue first? Because if you have 10 top priorities for a single team, you don’t really have a top priority. That will be the the top couple things to pursue.
Cindy Deng: Think about what kind of support do you need around you. It can take a village to have a successful product. For you to succeed, who do you need around you? For example, do you have a solid relationship with your manager? If you’re currently in a job, do they know about your career aspirations and where do you want to go? If your manager has idea of those, then they could potentially create opportunities for you along the way and allow you to practice the skills or learn things that you want to learn. Most managers are doing that these days, but if your manager has not had career development conversations with you the last six month or a year, try to start that conversation. Use the one-on-one time and just bring it up. It is your time and to look for manager support around things like this. You can share what you’re interested in learning and see what they can do about it to align.
Cindy Deng: Thinking beyond your manager, what about your skip level or other senior stakeholders that you may not interact with on the frequent basis, but they may be involved in the interest in the projects that you are working on? How do you make your work a little bit more visible beyond the people that you are enacting on a daily basis? And if you’re thinking about kind of exploring what’s next, actively on the job search, think about what kind of roles are you most interested in and really have lots of conversations with people. Networking can feel kind of scary at times, but really is the best way for people to discover opportunities and to find those kind of hidden roles that may not even be published on the job boards yet
Cindy Deng: In this phase as we’re trying things out and learning new things all the time, it’s potential to make mistakes. It’s like likely for us to make mistakes when we’re learning something new. Experiment and try things when you can kind of control in a small kind of setting. It’s less risky, but don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to kind of get out of that comfort zone. And really, successes come from failures. We all have that tendency. I don’t wanna fail. What if I fail? It feels scary, but that’s the best way to learn at times.
Cindy Deng: Let’s say we finish all execution steps and we are ready for lunch. Who would be your number one fan? Any guesses here? Thoughts during the chat? For some time I would say, my number one fan might be my mom in my life, but on the career sense, As I mentioned, I have really great managers in the past. And as we think forward forward, what we really want to be our number one fan is ourselves. This could be really difficult for some people. I found it difficult, especially, for a good amount of time in my career. I grew up learning that it’s good to be humble. When people compliment us, my parents would say, “oh no, no, no, you’re too kind” and brush it off. Talking about ourselves is bragging. I took me a long time to understand that I needed to shift my thinking here, especially working in the US and corporate America. If we’ve done it, it’s not bragging. If we could talk about it in a humble way, it is important to really acknowledge what we’ve accomplished and our strength and our ability.
Cindy Deng: The hard truth is, as much as we like it, we don’t have people constantly advocating for us all the time. Even if our managers try to do their best jobs, they often have multiple people on the team. They can’t do that for just us. We have to do our part and advocate for ourselves whenever we can. Doing excellent work is great, but it’s also important to make sure that’s visible and known to other people. All right, I’m gonna fly through the next couple slides a little faster cuz we’re short on time.
Cindy Deng: After launch, how do we continue to improve ourselves? Getting feedback, making, making sure you remember to keep taking small steps. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Physical mental health are absolutely important, so we don’t build up a tech debt over time. The key takeaways… today’s talk is all about you. How do you invest in yourself, the next step, and how do you keep trying? Love to connect with everyone here. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn and I have set aside time this year to help with folks on their career journey. If you like some additional one-on-one support, feel free to reach out.
Angie Chang: Thank you, Cindy. That was an excellent talk. Thank you so much for submitting this talk in the speaker call for proposals. Many of our speakers today came through that process. I encourage everyone in the audience to think about what is your TED talk and what can you speak about at the next girl Geek X ELEVATE. I did happily book a time with Cindy to talk and I’m so excited for that time. Thank you for being a leadership coach and helping women in tech. All right, we’re gonna close the session and hop to the next one, but thank you again, Cindy, and there’s a lot of chatter. I encourage you to look at the chat and we’ll see you on the other side. Bye.
Cindy Deng: Thank you, Angie. Bye everyone.
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Angie Chang: My name’s Angie Chang, founder of Girl Geek X and I’m really excited to introduce our speaker. San Robinson is a mobile UI engineer at CrowdStrike, where she’s responsible for develop, developing user-friendly, intuitive, and responsible applications using number, she uses technology to advance education, environmental sustainability, and social good through unique and complex approaches. We’re really excited to hear her talk on AR, VR and her passion project. Welcome, San.
San Robinson: Thank you Angie for the intro. Hello everyone, my name is San. I’m a software engineer and a freelance technology consultant. I have a deep interest in the confluence of education and travel with this vision over the past six years – I’ve researched and begin developing AR/VR technology solutions like The Natives POV, where my mission is to cultivate language learning, cultural understanding, and global citizenship citizenship using immersive technologies and gamification.
San Robinson: Today I’m dedicated to revolutionizing language learning, utilizing AR.VR to create immersive experiences for people around the globe and to inspire and educate people like you so that they too can create world-changing AR/VR apps.
San Robinson: Have you ever been lost in an algorithm like Alice tumbling down a virtual rabbit hole? One minute you’re scrolling through cat photos and next thing you know, you’ve turned into an overnight expert on diabetic cat care. And yes, that’s the thing. From there, you zapped off into a whirlwind tour of at building and before you can say “Hello world”, you’ve teleported into a bustling Korean marketplace, all of this without moving an inch from your couch. Information overload, but without getting into the negatives that rhymed with my phone, let’s talk about AR vr for immersive learning, A new level unlocks, we’re stepping into the realm of augmented real, augmented and virtual reality for learning. It is like switching from a black and white TV to color only this time. You don’t watch it, you live it. A world where anything is possible, that is the power of AR/VR.
San Robinson: Now that we’ve opened Pandora’s box of immersive tech, AR, VR, XR, what is the difference between these things? Let’s start with VR. With VR, we step into a completely immersive and digital environment. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live inside of a volcano or what it would be like to hang out with your favorite music artist? When you wear a VR headset, you’re transported into a different world. A user could be in a conference room in New York and instantaneously get transported into a virtual beach in Hawaii. Or imagine you’re a language learner looking to build your vocabulary, but everything around you is in the language that you know.
San Robinson: What if you can alter and enhance your world using just your phone? This is what augmented reality is, a place where our existing world and our virtual world merges. Think of Pokemon Go. Now, let’s say you have an important event that you’re trying to figure out what to wear. You may just have to go to the store and try on new outfits, which which can sometimes be a drag, especially when time doesn’t permit. Your other option is online shopping and waiting a few days with the possibility of you not liking it with mixed reality. You can try a new thing before you get it, and if you don’t like the look, you can just change it with the click of a button.
San Robinson: AR, VR, XR, but what is XR? It’s extended reality. It’s the umbrella term for AR and VR is considered immersive technologies. You may be wondering, with all this talk of AR and VR and tech advancements, how does this fit into your personal life? It could seem overwhelming or perhaps even disconnecting you from the real world, but that’s where immersive technologies like AR and VR come into play.
San Robinson: It’s the power to travel without moving to immerse, without diving, and to learn in ways that we never thought were possible. I’d like to take you on a personal journey of mine, of immersive experiences. In 2017, I spent a year in Gudo China. I experienced the intricate dance of language learning, the nuances of culture and the social art of living like local. In just one year I acquired more Mandarin skills than I’ve acquired in four years of high school Spanish.
San Robinson: Let’s be realistic. It’s not feasible for everyone to pack their bags and immerse the immerse themselves in a foreign country to learn something new. And that’s where technology steps in. Using immersive technologies, we can replicate essence of being in a completely different environment and foster learning through virtual immersion. Picture this, you’re living in China and you’re learning Mandarin from the comfort of your home, but it feels like you’re right in the heart of Beijing, surrounded by native speakers and vibrant local life, or, let’s say you’ve been intrigued by Chinese architecture.
San Robinson: With VR, you could transfer into a different world. You can be in the forbidden city experiencing the majestic history as if you were physically there. And that’s where The Natives POV comes in learning through native perspective from anywhere. While I too am a fan of the real world, I cannot overlook the immense potential of these technologies and bringing the world closer and truly making learning limitless.
San Robinson: While this might all seem groundbreaking, breaking, astonishing, even it’s relevant to each one of us as we strive to learn and grow in this interconnected world. Through my research, I learned something really interesting. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transferred to the brain happens to be visual. What does this mean for learning?
San Robinson: Let’s take a moment to consider the learning pyramid a visual representation of how different learning methods impact our knowledge retention. At the apex, we have passive learning techniques like lectures and reading, which results in just five to 10% retention. But as we move downwards, we find more interactive methods such as this group discussions, practicing, yielding higher retention rates, and about 50 to 75%. And at the bottom of the P of the pyramid, we find the most effective learning method, teaching others or immediate use of learning, which has an impressive 90% retention rate. It’s clear to see that as we descend the pyramid learning becomes more interactive and more engaging in thus more effective.
San Robinson: This is exactly where immersive technologies like AR and VR come into play, taking us straight to the bottom of the pyramid, enhancing retention and making learning, deeply engaging.
San Robinson: Shifting our focus to communication, an essential part of learning and sharing knowledge. The famed research by Albert Mahar breaks it down into three components, 55% non-verbal like facial expressions and body language. 38% vocal the tone and pitch our speech and only mirrors 7% of actual words used, helps us communicate each day. Imagine then the power of the immersive technologies that allows us to practice and learn environments where all these aspects can be incorporated in a virtual world. A learner isn’t just reading words or hearing a lecture. They are in the midst of action, practicing and learning non-verbal cues, picking up tones and picture the pictures of the language and actively using their learning. This depiction of learning pyramid and our understanding of communication is what makes AR and VR the next frontier of education and training.
San Robinson: Now that we see that leveraging immersive technologies can help with both communication and learning, what does that mean for cross culture communication? That means consider, consider a scenario when you’re American executive preparing for a crucial business meeting in Japan. With the aid of AR and VR, you can find yourself in a virtual environment mimicking a Japanese office, helping you experience the perfect bow or learning the proper way of exchanging business cards. These immersive technologies by creating realistic simulations of different culture, equips us with the knowledge and exposure that might otherwise require physical travel and a significant time investment. In essence, this allows us to explore and understand the riches and diversity of our global community, fostering empathy and refining our communication skills.
San Robinson: In 2019, the University of California began studying ultimate augmented reality. They used it to visualize scientific data via 3D models and videos to provide insight into human biology. In an app called Scholar, the the results are amazing. 90% of students using ar vr felt more engaged. 85% of them understood the subject more, and there was a 10% average in grade grade increase. Students really enjoyed the app and they said that it made learning more fun and much more easier to understand.
San Robinson: Today, technology changed a lot and these AR/VR technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are being used in various ways from gaming and entertainment to education and training. One example of AR technology that we may all know of is Pokemon Go. This game allowed players to use their smartphones to see and interact with Pokemon in the real world. Another example is Snapchat’s AR lenses, and these lenses allow users to gain a digital filter and effects on their photos while VR technologies are becoming increasingly popular.
San Robinson: One example of VR technology is the Oculus Riff. This headset allows users to immerse themselves in virtual worlds. And another example is the HTC Vive. This headset allows users to interact with virtual objects using just their hands. One of my favorites is Google Expedition, which allows users to actually learn about different things in different countries and different places using just AR and VR.
San Robinson: But we should take a moment to really consider the backstage heroes and the cutting of the cutting edge immersive technologies. The people who are powering the development of AR and VR, places like the various software platforms, such as Unity and Unreal Engine, which serves as canvases where creators can design immersive experiences. Unity has a user-friendly interface that is widely recognized for their AR and VR developments helping creators animate and stimulate lifelike environments. On the other hand, Unreal, particularly with its MetaHumans app, is known for its robust graphics and cutting edge technology.
San Robinson: The MetaHuman app, which happens to be my personal favorite, brings photorealistic visuals to the VR world, enabling the creation of a astonishingly realistic human characters. It truly showcases the power of potential, potential of Unreal Engine and shaping the future of digital experiences, especially when it comes to acquiring a new language.
San Robinson: Then we have the hardware, like the magic wands that bring our interactions to life like Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and new Apple Vision Pro glasses that are bringing digital information in our physical world. But it’s not just about the hardware and software. AR and VR rely heavily on advancements in computer vision and AI. These technologies allow systems to understand and respond to what they’re seeing, making our interactions in a virtual world more intuitive and seamless.
San Robinson: The confluence of these technologies is accelerating growth and adoption of immersive technologies, opening up limit limitless possibilities in our journey towards a more immersive and interactive future. As we step further into this exciting and transformative era, it becomes increasingly important for us to understand the specific advantages and obstacles associated with these innovative developments. Let’s turn our attention now to the benefits and challenges that AR and VR, a key player in immersive technology landscape, and imagine how it reshaping the future using virtual reality while simultaneously presenting new hurdles and that we must overcome as time goes on.
San Robinson: Some of the benefits in the realm of AR/VR, what striking to me was the increase in motivation and engagement, the immersive nature of these technologies, drugs, users, and keeping them engaged for longer and driving a curiosity to explore and learn. It turns learning from, from a task to an adventure.
San Robinson: These technologies also shine in simplifying complex concepts. Visualize visualizing ideas and intricate processes, which is, which are often a challenge for many people. AR/VR brings these concepts to life by making them more comprehensible and relatable. For instance, learning about the structure of atoms comes exponentially easier when you can explore it in a digital realm. AR/VR impact on retention and recall is also profound. The interactive experimental learning that these technologies provides. AIDS and memory retention, it’s one thing to read about the pyramids of Giza and there’s another one to actually virtually explore them.
San Robinson: By placing these learners in the real world of fantastical scenarios, AR/VR fosters problem solving and critical thinking skills Users can learn and navigate and adapt to and make a real decision based off of these environments, which actually helps them develop a more cognitive experience. And lastly, these technologies have the ability to ignite and spark learning. The assignment of exploring a virtual role or interacting with AR applications can turn the most reluctant learners into eager explorers. But in a nutshell, AR/VR not only enhances the way we learn, but it also instills a love for learning, which to me is arguably the greatest gift and benefit. Now let’s move into the challenges. Well, some insights AR/VR has actually shown 20% of increase in learning outcomes. Another thing is that 50% of education and institution plan to implement AR/VR in the next five years.
San Robinson: The insights are there and we can see that AR/VR has many benefits, but we should also focus on the challenges because with every silver lining there is some clouds, AR/VR is no exception. The first challenge we encounter is training. And the second problem we encounter is limited availability. But the really big challenge that I foresee in in the future is the high cost of this hardware, which can be prohibited to widespread adoption efforts to create ongoing affordable devices are u are being completed to bridge this gap. Now there’s also the user experience, which strides have been made to creating intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. It is also a significant challenge. Navigating the virtual roles should be as easy as it is to navigate the physical one. There’s also a question about the accessibility of and the digital divide that AR/VR might cause.
San Robinson: As we embrace these technologies, we have to ensure that they’re accessible to all regardless of socioeconomic status or geographical location. And lastly, there are ethical and safety considerations. Balancing immersive experiences with user safety and privacy is paramount. As we venture deeper into these virtual worlds, defining rules for data protection, user interactions and content moderation will be crucial. The journey towards perfect AR/VR is always challenging, but as we navigate these obstacles, the horizon poles of promising and immersive future future in the realm of education and learning, these technologies are revolutionizing the way we absorb and retain knowledge. They’ll create a more immersive experimental learning environments where students can explore the world, conduct complex lab experiments, or engage with Shakespeare’s plays in ways that we’ve never seen possible all this in the comfort of their classroom or home, what this potential extends far beyond just education.
San Robinson: For example, in healthcare, with immersive technologies, a practitioner can stimulate experiences of patients from different racial, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds, or those with specific conditions such as autism, PTSD, and also physical disabilities. This immersive experience can deepen the understanding of how these patients perceive and interact with the world leading to more empathetic and personalized care. In the business world, AR can exist, assist in product design or provide employees with hands-on training. And let’s not forget about the entertainment industry where technologies will continue to redefine our gaming movie and live events experiences making more interactive and more, and making them more interactive and more immersive. But as we stand at the this technological crossroad, the possibility seems endless.
San Robinson: Challenges remains such reducing costs and refining user interfaces. But the trajectory of AR is really clear. AR is set to become an integral part of our life, part of tools that will transform how we work, play, and learn. Now that we have explored the potential applications of AR and VR across various domains, I hope you gain a better understanding of how these technologies can make a significant impact. We are truly standing on the threshold of a new era. I would like to thank you all for your attention and participation at this time. I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have and leave the floor open for discussions. Thank you. Thank you.
Angie Chang: Thank you son. That was an excellent talk on AR/VR. We were really excited to have you sharing your knowledge. I’m going to have to wrap up the session and talk to the next one, but thank you for joining us and there’s a lot of chatter in the chat, so I encourage you to check it out and connect with people. You can message them on this platform if you like. Thank you.
San Robinson: Okay, thank you Angie.
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Sukrutha Bhadouria: Next session, we have Neha Srivastava here with us. Neha is a senior software engineer at Attentive. She’s an experienced engineer with over a decade of experience in various Fortune 500 companies. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion in the technology workforce outside of work. She also runs a decolonial feminist nonprofit called Shaktitva. Welcome, Neha.
Neha Srivastava: Thank you so much Sukrutha for this introduction and this opportunity. I’ll start sharing my screen a little bit and then we can get started. Hope everyone can see me. The topic of my conversation today is rocking the technical interview for women and minorities.
Neha Srivastava: The content of this presentation is likely relevant for anyone who’s looking to give a technical interview, but I will focus a little bit on special challenges and tips for women and minorities, mostly because unfortunately, the interview experience can vary dramatically in the industry if you’re a woman or a person of color.
Neha Srivastava: I will share some of the tips that I’ve learned over the course of my decade-long career and hope that it helps. Okay, so in this presentation, we’ll go over each of the interview process rounds when you’re interviewing for a technical role, and we’ll go over those in detail. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. If you have thoughts, feedbacks, or questions about the presentation, I’d be happy to help.
Neha Srivastava: Alright, so the interview process. There are typically about six or seven stages in a technical interview, starting from the time the recruiter receives your resume to all the way to offer negotiations. In these upcoming slides, I’ll go over each of those rounds in detail.
Neha Srivastava: One thing to note here is that the interview process can vary quite a bit across companies. Some companies are looking to hire for a very specific role. Typically, this is common scenario in like early stage startups, or even up to different series. Whereas others may be trying to find a good engineer that meets the bar, and they’re confident to come up with a team fit later on. Now, depending on the either of the scenarios, the order and the nature of the interview may vary.
Neha Srivastava: Let’s get started. The first round is the resume selection. This is the first introduction you have to a certain company. Generally recruiters receive tens to thousands of applications to a specific role depending on the company size and market conditions, particularly these days. As you can imagine, the competition is much higher now, unless it’s a huge company, most of the resume selection will happen manually, which means this is your first impression on a company will be made through your resume.
Neha Srivastava: There are many great resume improvement guides out there, so I won’t go into too many details about that. The key point I want to make here is that your resume should be tight and focused – one that gives the reader a good overview of your experience in the US. Typically a one-pager resume is preferred, and I would recommend that the experience section should be thoughtfully crafted.
Neha Srivastava: What I mean by that is that it is entirely possible that you cannot fit all of your experience in this space you have in the resume, especially projects. If you worked in a company for say five years, you probably did so many projects not possible to write down all of that in here, so one has to be mindful of what to mention in the bullet points under each experience.
Neha Srivastava: My recommendation – pick your most impactful project. One where you did most of the work, or where you were in a central decision-making position, or anyone that you can discuss in depth and mention that project by name. If the project didn’t have a name or if it was a mouthful, make up a name. The rest of the experience can be through bullet points.
Neha Srivastava: For example, let’s say you worked at a company where you did several projects, but one project, the notification system, was if you were the tech lead for this, or you were the sole/primary developer on this, etc. Now you can phrase it this way. Point one, developed the notification system for this company, for this particular software. Point two, optimize software on-call processes, contributed to different projects throughout the company for various improvements. You can mention technologies and intersperse this with more details.
Neha Srivastava: Why am I suggesting that you give a name to at least one project or mention one project by name? It’ll give you excellent talking points for the next two or maybe more rounds if you get selected. Resume-crafting is a skill and you may have to go through several iterations to make it perfect. Use tools to get there, use AI tools like GPT or Bard to really fine tune the language.
Neha Srivastava: A few friends and I worked on a project called Resume Analyzer on the side and it’s available for you to use at resume.precruit.ai. This connects you to GPT behind the scenes, and it’ll give feedback on your resume, so you can upload a PDF and you can see how that resume fares. Please do give it a try. This is a work in progress and we’d appreciate any feedback you may have through our Discord community. If it’s a little bit clunky, please bear with us.
Neha Srivastava: Next is the recruiter round. If your resume had its intended impact and you got selected for interviewing, you may get an email for a recruiter to schedule the first round. This is called the recruiter screen sometimes. As the resume does not tell the whole story, the purpose of this round is for the recruiter to get to know you a little bit, get a sense of your communication skills, and also your experience. They want to get a better understanding of your competencies and your background. It is generally an ad hoc conversation with the recruiter, but if you’re actively interviewing, it’s likely you’ll be doing this many, many times.
Neha Srivastava: I would recommend preparing an introduction speech, one that describes your past work succinctly and puts them in broader picture. I would also suggest mentioning your career goals that you are looking achieve. It should not appear you’re reading from script. The speech can be in whatever format, such as bullet points or sticky notes, anything in talking to the recruiter. You may also want to briefly mention a project that you worked on, or the recruiter may specifically ask you about one in the conversation.
Neha Srivastava: Pick one from the ones that I mentioned in the resume that you have added a name for. Use one of the recent ones, preferably from your latest experience. Again, this is preferred but not necessary and talk about it in depth. The tool that I talked about, the Resume Analyzer, it also has a tab for introduction speech as well. Do check it out and let us know if it’s helpful.
Neha Srivastava: Last but not the least, you should make sure to discuss level and compensation expectations in with the recruiter in this round itself. This is very important. Some companies have a generic interview process where they’ll tell you that they’ll decide the level based on how the interview goes. That’s fine, but you should still mention what level and range of compensation you’re targeting so that everybody’s on the same page at the beginning itself.
Neha Srivastava: How do you come up with those target compensation and expectations? Do market research to understand what developers at your level are paid in the industry. This is not based on how much you’re currently making, but rather based on the role being offered. In some states, recruiters are prohibited from asking your current compensation. Use that, ask for an expected range if t’s not already in the job description without offering your current salary details. Be clear and nonchalant about it.
Neha Srivastava: Sometimes this is more common with women and and people of color, but sometimes people think that if they ask for less money, they’re more likely to move forward in the interview process.
Neha Srivastava: This is a misconception. It is important to understand that companies already have a set budget assigned for this role long before the job description is even posted on internet. In some states, New York, it has now become mandatory for companies to advertise salary range for a given job. If the job description did not mention any salary range, ask the recruiter straight up for it, then decide whether it meets your goals or not. If it’s a broad range and your expectations are within the range, then mention that with something like, my compensation expectations are in the range of X or Y, and if it’s on the high and it’s on the higher end of the range that you described in the job description, make things very, very clear right from the upfront. Hopefully that helps.
Neha Srivastava: If this works, you’ll be moving forward possibly to a hiring manager round. Now, this is where things get a little bit… the variations occur between companies and the formats they use. So in this round, in this situation, this will be your first technical interview. Every company schedules it differently, so this round may happen before, after, or same day as the technical screen. You will typically be speaking to an engineering manager or a team lead who’s likely gonna be your immediate manager upon hiring or someone of an <inaudible> level. I’ll asterisk this with the caveat that this is only in a scenario when they’re looking for to hire for a specific role. Generally, if companies are looking to fit you for a role at a later date, so this round may not happen at all, but just in case it does, and these some tips might be helpful.
Neha Srivastava: It’s important to understand what the goal here is for the hiring manager – to get a good understanding of you as a developer, your competencies, and your experience. It is similar to recruiter round in some ways, but in this round you would wanna be very, very technical. You want to talk a lot about technical details. I recommending picking a recent project as a tool to explain your experience. It can be the same project you used for the recruiter round, but you should be prepared to explain the vision, the business rationale of the project, the tech stack you used in this project, and the technologies you used. Give clear and concise descriptions about your role in the project.
Neha Srivastava: Be prepared to justify your technical decisions if asked about them. And if you were the decision maker specifically, the more senior you are, the more details you need to know and discuss. When you’re discussing the project, bake in the contributions and wins through specific phrases in this sentence. For example, you could say like, one option in this project was to use Cassandra for its database. Or you could say, since I was the tech lead of this project, I chose Cassandra for its database because it seemed like it was the most suitable option given the kind data we’re dealing with. Now, of course, you’ll explain the kind of data that you were dealing with, but this is an example. This way you draw a mental picture for the hiring manager about your level of involvement in the project.
Neha Srivastava: Mention wins and stats about the project in hard numbers. I would reiterate this. Women and people of color tend to skip talking about their wins, and they’ll sometimes unnecessarily generalize those wins. This is cultural, and we won’t go into the psychology why we do this, but don’t do that. Be clear about your wins, quote numbers and statistics and to quantify the impact of your project. You have to talk in hard numbers. Talk about the business impact of your project.
Neha Srivastava: Mention any accolades or awards or recognition that you may have received. Maybe you got mentioned at the engineering all-hands for this work, or maybe you got a chance to do demo the project and company all-hands. Don’t be shy about mentioning these things. It helps the hiring manager to know these things when they’re making a decision, because this helps them understand you better. Now, very often you may be asked about challenges that you faced in the project. For this, I recommend picking a challenge where you’re the hero of the story.
Neha Srivastava: They’ll ask about a technical challenge, but it’s possible to not have one. In fact, don’t be shy in mentioning that the project was well planned out and so there wasn’t much that you hadn’t anticipated and there wasn’t much drama around the release. That’s a good thing. In such a case, perhaps you can mention a procedural challenge – some challenge in the requirement-gathering phase where you may have done some research and presented options to stakeholders to clear a log jam, maybe about a certain requirement that wasn’t clear and was hampering the process or something like that.
Neha Srivastava: Most important thing in this round is to be open and honest. You’re building a rapport with somebody who may end up being your manager. Don’t make up things that didn’t happen, but talk freely about the things that did. This round will also help you build that initial image, which will help you in the career if you do get accepted and if you do end up working with them. All right.
Neha Srivastava: The next round is the tech screen. This is arguably the most anxiety-inducing round in the tech interview. For this reason, a lot of people fall into the endless cycle of spending anxious nights on code and waking up in the morning feeling even more unprepared than they were before. I recommend avoiding that.
Neha Srivastava: The prep for this round is important, but you have to prepare smartly. Remember, you’re not learning how to code during the prep. You already know how to code. You just need to brush up on the topics you haven’t touched in a while. Personally, I find the content of educator.io or algoexpert.io more useful in preparing for this round. Then raw lead code, battle of the nerves. Text screens are not a referendum on your abilities as an engineer, and it is key to maintain your morale throughout the process.
Neha Srivastava: This round is only for interviewers, so make sure that you can code. Now the other thing about this round is that you’re expected to talk about your thought process before you start coding. You would be expected to talk about the problem, ask clarifying questions, and come up with possible solutions for the problem. Then you can start coding any one of the solutions. You’re not expected to narrate your coding, but you’re expected to explain your approach and even discuss its pros and cons.
Neha Srivastava: Here’s the thing – expect to know about the time and space complexity of the solutions you design. If this process is generally difficult for you, mock interviews with friends or strangers can help. There is a site called pramp.com where you can go and get paired with a developer for free to practice your coding round. There are paid options for mock interviews as well, but I don’t recommend them as they’re very expensive. But if you feel like you need additional resources, that’s still an option.
Neha Srivastava: Now, you may or may not know the answer to the question that’s being presented, but that’s, that’s how it’s going to be in your day job as well. They’re not expecting to hire people with encyclopedic knowledge. Just show that you can work through a problem you’ve never seen before because that’s what they’ll expect an engineer on their team to do in their day jobs. You don’t have to ace it, you don’t have to design the best test solution there is.
Neha Srivastava: You just have to work with the interviewer to set the expectations of the problem. If it’s a hard problem and you didn’t get to a working solution, that’s fine. As long as you’re able to process the problem, come up with options, and you were able to show that you understand the concepts involved, it’s fine. Do not fret over knowledge of syntax or libraries. In fact, these days most interviewers are okay with it. If you asked to Google a particular syntax or library usage, but ask before doing that in the interview. Just do your best. You’ll be surprised at how good you are when you’re not nervous.
Neha Srivastava: Next is the system design round. Now it can be a part of the interview process as a tech screen or as part of the onsite or both. The more senior you are, the more important this round becomes, even more than the screen, arguably. The intent here is to understand your ability to architect technical solutions out of abstract or vaguely defined requirements.
Neha Srivastava: Part of the process is to ask the right questions, clarify requirements, and even make assumptions. It’s a very technical, communication-heavy round. You’re expected to use a whiteboard if it’s in person, or a whiteboarding tool like Miro to draw out your designs and organize your discussions. I would recommend familiarizing yourself with some of these tools if you don’t already know them for preparation, there’s some great material out there, use it. I personally like AlgoExpert for this prep because there are a lot of recorded videos that show you how to even approach the problem in this round.
Neha Srivastava: Once again, you’re expected to talk while you think. Explain your choice of technologies. Make quick back-of-the-envelope calculations to show that you can quantify problem. The more logical and nuanced your thought process, the better to show off your problem-solving abilities. Now, if you’re a senior engineer, it is likely that you already do this in your job, so it should not be a completely new process.
Neha Srivastava: However, the trick is to understand how to take a process that takes days or weeks in real life to something you do in an hour. Well, the answer is loads of assumptions. Assume, clarify, move on. If you’re someone who’s targeting a senior role but have not done this, prepare using study material and do mock interviews.
Neha Srivastava: Now, the onsite. If you clear the screens, you’re onto the big leagues. The onsite interview is one they’re likely invite you to spend about half a day in the office. It can be a virtual onsite for remote-first roles. It will likely consist of meet-and-greets, a couple of technical rounds, and manager rounds. Personally, the technical problems on the onsite may be of a higher difficulty level than the tech screens, and these rounds will tend to carry more weight in the hiring decision. I found that companies and teams perhaps more commonly in smaller companies, they tend to ask more realistic problems in these rounds. They’ll give you a representative challenge from their actual business use case. However, the intent of the onsite is to basically assess how you would fare as a teammate for most companies. While the technical screens were about your individual achievement and competencies, the onsite is more about understanding whether you’re a team player and a culture fit.
Neha Srivastava: One of the rounds can be include behavioral assessments even without explicitly saying so. For example, in a tech screen, in the earlier process, the interviewer will be focused on your technical solution. In this round, the technical onsite, this technical solution is definitely important. But so is your behavior as a potential teammate. They’re trying to get a glimpse of what it would be like to work with you in real life.
Neha Srivastava: The quality of your technical solution is important, but again, your behavior probably is more. They want to see if you can take feedback from interviewers and improve or build upon a solution that you’re proposing. They also wanna check for some red flags. Are you unnecessary defensive of your design or can you make mistakes? Can you admit to make that you made a mistake? And whether you can move on to improve the design. The ideal candidate here is confident, able to present and justify the technical choices, but also take feedback, change the design and improve on it.
Neha Srivastava: The next round is – this is very important and not a lot of people talk about it and it’s not very often discussed, but I did wanna discuss this. If you’re in the offer stage, congrats, but it’s not done. If you get an offer that meets your expectations and level, that’s great, but if you get a we like you, but then remember that there is more work to be done, you do not have to accept the offer as it comes, you can still negotiate.
Neha Srivastava: The best negotiation tactic there is to have options, so you can be prepared to walk away. Line up your interview so that you give a few onsites close to each other so that the offers come in around the same time. In the first call about the offer, listen carefully and take the time to think about it, and compare it to other offers that you may have.
Neha Srivastava: If you are being low-balled – if they come in with an offer which is below your expectation – stand your ground, tell them that you like the company, but you have competing offers and that makes your expectation that that meets your expectations. And so there, you’re likely not going to pick them unless they raise this offer. Once again, be prepared to walk away because you have options.
Neha Srivastava: Stand your ground. Low-balling on money and title unfortunately happens a lot to women. There’s a depressing statistic that 30% of the women above the age of 35 are still in junior positions compared to just 5% of men. Less than 50% of women in the range of 24 to 35 are senior developers as compared to 85% men. This is partly in because of the industry’s epidemic of low-balling women and minorities.
Neha Srivastava: Don’t accept the status quo. Push for the level you expect to be at. Make a stand for your career and be prepared to walk away. Now, a lot of people wonder that if they push too hard on the numbers, then it may or title, then it may ruin potential relationships with the team.
Neha Srivastava: Here’s the thing. Firstly, it’s quite likely that your teammates and even your manager have no idea of what compensation you’re being offered or about the negotiation, especially since IC and EM tracks deviate. In mid-level, it’s possible that as an IC you may end up getting paid more than your manager. Most likely HR does not disclose pay levels to managers.
Neha Srivastava: The possibility that your negotiations will impact your team rapport is low. However, let’s say the team does know, then you have to think that if it’s the kind of team that gets upset when you asked to be paid at market-rate, is the the kind of team that you wanna work with? This is a huge red flag. All in all, the mantra is stand your ground and be prepared to walk away.
Neha Srivastava: Lastly, here are some of the resources I mentioned throughout the presentation. I’ll share the slides on my LinkedIn, perhaps so you can have them or you can take notes now. The technical interview process is unfortunately extremely tiring, taxing, and painful for everyone, so the key is to manage your morale and confidence. Managing your morale throughout the journey is extremely important. Sometimes I literally leave notes for myself to remind me that I’m enough and to not get bogged down by the process. Do that if it helps you and thank you.
Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, thank you Neha. Everyone should take a quick screenshot or just go to your LinkedIn. Really appreciate this talk and all the content you’ve shared with us. Thank you.
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Sukrutha Bhadouria: Our next speaker is Amulya Vishwanath. She’s the head of developer relations supporting emerging markets at Nvidia. She’s passionate about making AI and emerging technologies. She was previously a product marketing lead for AI developer products at Nvidia and at Intel. Her favorite gadget is an AI-enabled drone. Welcome, Amulya.
Amulya Vishwanath: Thank you so much Sukrutha. Hi everyone, nice to meet you all. It’s so lovely to be here and hopefully you can take away one or two things from my presentation today. The whole goal is to give you a glimpse of what the possibilities are with many of the no-code roles. I would love to hear back from you after this session in terms of how your journey is going and did you end up making the transition, or any other questions and so on. Would love to hear from you. All right, so let’s get started. Thanks Sukrutha for the introduction. Can one of you confirm if you’re able to see my slide? Awesome.
Amulya Vishwanath: One of the most powerful message that I find that aligns really well with fundamentally who I am is, that you tend to work and you tend to think about work that you really love and something that means something, a purpose for you. This is a Steve Jobs code that really resonates with me. I thought it was important to just share with the attendees today. If you’re looking for something new, if you’re looking for a new challenge, don’t settle. All things related to heart, you know, it’s important to find something that really ticks you and makes you happy. You wake up every single day to do something exciting.
Amulya Vishwanath: I hope that in today’s presentation, I’m able to get you to start thinking about it, or maybe your next career move in the tech industry. Quick view of what I’ll be covering. I’ll be talking about key differentiations between technical code, no code, and then the very supportive and success building teams which are often are called as non-technical, but they are the key entities that help keep a company together.
Amulya Vishwanath: Then we’ll navigate through a job description walkthrough where I’ll show you how someone from the engineering background can navigate into technical product marketing journey. I have a very detailed guide in the form of a slide that has all the information, then a few roles that we are hiring for at Nvidia, so f you wanna learn more about Nvidia, feel free to look it up or you can reach me separately about it. I also have a deep dive blog on how to prepare for interviews that’s already posted on my LinkedIn. Feel free to take a look at that.
Amulya Vishwanath: A lot of the questions that I get is that hey, you know seems like your job is cool, that I don’t need to sit in front of a computer. How do I just move into a product manager role? And so on. There are a lot of myths because there are a lot of assumptions folks make just because they have not really spent enough time working with, let’s say, for example, a product manager or a product marketing manager, or someone from the content marketing team, documentation writer team and so on.
Amulya Vishwanath: It’s really important to understand that in order for any size or type of company to be successful, these are the three key pillars. There’s the, you know, coding or the programming unit or the research team, which is, you know, of course they are technical, they are going to be programming or researching and, you know, applying different techniques, thinking about system level you know, different tools and STKs and so on. I’m not gonna cover that because there is are awesome speakers lined up to talk more about the coding interviews in general.
Amulya Vishwanath: Then, we have the super glue type of a model – that is the non-technical folks who really help us keep our product successful, or keep people together, or hire amazing people and so on. They become the fundamental or the glue of the company. They are the non-technical folks.
Amulya Vishwanath: The third thing is the technical no code. The reason why it’s important to add this differentiation is that while you may not be coding, you still need to know how the product works. While you may not be thinking about system design, in a lot of ways you still have to think about your customer or your developer pain point, and at the same time have a pretty good grasp of how the product works and so on.
Amulya Vishwanath: These are just a few roles I’ve listed. There are many more roles in the technical no code area beyond product marketing strategy and alliances manager, program manager, program coordinators even again, depends on the type of product program or service or in general, a company that you’re speaking with. It’s important to read through the job descriptions.
Amulya Vishwanath: Typically, we tend to look at the qualification section. I’ve done that for a really long time, but I would really urge you to look not just the qualification side, but understand which team is posting this job description. What do they primarily do? What are they looking for? What are the bonus section? Like, where they talk about you would stand out if you do X, Y, Z, or if you are doing X, Y, Z things, pay attention to those things, right?
Amulya Vishwanath: The differentiation here is that everybody in these different categories are going to be really important for the success of a product or a company. Remember that. You might be an individual who has done amazing on the programming side, but want to test out something different. I hear a lot of people coming in and asking, Hey, I want to get into a non-technical role. I wanna become a product manager, or I wanna become a developer advocate. But guess what, it’s still a technical role and it’s important to know the value here. I’m happy to have an offline conversation if any anyone wants to love learn more about any of you know, these specific categories. But again some of the key questions that I keep getting is, how do I gain experience?
Amulya Vishwanath: It’s not always the case that you have experience in that specific domain to easily transfer, but there’s always going to be a transit point or transit set of skills you can gain in your existing role. Start thinking about who you are as an individual and where do you want to start transitioning into. Sometimes it could be just a direct jump from technical code to technical, no code function. Sometimes it might need a few tweaks. I’ll talk a little bit about switching functions and the related pay questions and so on later on.
Amulya Vishwanath: Let me just dive in really quick. This is my career progression. My you know, background has been in electrical engineering, but you’ll see that I’ve tried software engineering. I was a hardware researcher back in my master’s program, I got into app application development for signal processing products. I continued to gain a lot of the fundamentals from my engineering degree, but also getting more exposure on the programming side. I realized that I wanted to channel it in a different way where I’m able to talk to customers and customers developers and just be out there speaking to folks and understanding their pain points and really trying to think innovatively, think on the feet and you know, derive success and growth from that.
Amulya Vishwanath: I myself have made that transition from core engineering to product management and group product marketing and now developer relations. The reason why I have these blocks interconnected is because you’re consistently accumulating skills and you’re basically stacking them. Remember that while you may think that, well, I’m a programmer, I’m not sure, you know, if whatever I’ve done connects with a role that I’m interested in, the Apple Developer relations team, for example, you definitely can. You just need to map out your journey.
Amulya Vishwanath: I urge you to take a look at a simple template like this, map it out, see what you really learned from each of your previous roles, and start thinking about, you know, what are the things that you need to see in your next role or want to develop on and come up with a plan. Alright, so moving on. The tip is that, some of you might have already done this. The first one is get to know yourself. And one thing that really helped me very early on in my career is doing a SWOT analysis. Address, what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Try to do a SWOT analysis. There are a lot of templates online. You probably have a couple of apps also that allow you to maintain these in real time and kind of update it on a weekly, monthly basis and so on.
Amulya Vishwanath: If you haven’t already done it, please do consider doing a SWOT analysis on just yourself. And then the second thing let me tell you, every single role, and most of the calls that I’ve gotten from FANG companies in general, and a lot of the unicorn startups have been through LinkedIn. If you haven’t already updated your LinkedIn, please do so, make the most out of your LinkedIn profile. Again, I’m sure there are newer mediums, but something that I can swear by that has really worked for me has been LinkedIn.
Amulya Vishwanath:Update your summary, update your job-related information, the certifications that you have done or you’re currently pursuing. And you know, anything that can add value in terms of where you are headed. Honestly, one of the things that I underestimated was when I started out on LinkedIn, I had about 95 connections. But today, again, you know, nothing to boast about, but more so try to find your crowd, right? Try to find your group the type of interest that you have and so on. I have about 5,000 folks today. And I learned, I just learn, just looking at the feed, right? I don’t need to go and look up TechCrunch. I don’t need to go and look up something on Google. And elsewhere, most of the things I’m learning from my peers are LinkedIn connections.
Amulya Vishwanath: If you are headed somewhere and you know which domain or interest areas are important for you, make sure you are following folks in that domain and increase your connections in that area. That way it’s much easier for you to pick up the lingo, pick up the products that are making the rounds and just in general the type of folks that are getting hired into such companies or for such products.
Amulya Vishwanath: Step three is prepare to stand out. I have a detailed blog on this, so I won’t be covering a lot in this session. Here’s just an example, right? Apple has posted a job on developer product marketing manager. Go through the details. In the summary, you’ll see that it’s a combination of product marketing, product management in the developer relations organization who would’ve known. And they’re very open to hiring somebody with a background from software developer, product management or product marketing, which is the blue arrow that you see here.
Amulya Vishwanath: Pay careful attention to the job descriptions. It may not necessarily show up in the dropdown list where you just select product management or product marketing and so on. Pay careful attention when you’ve decided where you want to you know grow. It’s a combination of product management, product marketing, and developer relations.
Amulya Vishwanath: Such a cool role, right? It requires a combination of presentation and product demonstration skills, subject matter expertise, competitive analysis. Find the folks who are in product management, product marketing and dev, follow them on LinkedIn. Understand, you know, where do they place most of their time? And emphasis on you will get the lingo, you will understand, you know, what’s more important. Again, pay careful attention to the summary of any job function and key qualifications.
Amulya Vishwanath: It’s a very detailed guide to make a transition if you’re coming from the engineering background, want to explore you know more of the no-code roles. This is a detailed version I’ve written for product marketing, but you can certainly apply this to partner manager roles, developer relations role, and product management as well.
Amulya Vishwanath: We have a combination of no-code, code roles and a lot of other you know glue roles, right? That are important for the company. Take a look at them. If you wanna learn more, feel free to reach out to me. Two things that has been clearly communicated from my HR business partner who offered me these hot jobs that are open at Nvidia is that number one, you might see that some of them are remote roles and some list as US California, Santa Clara, Austin, and so on. That’s because these fields are restrictive, sometimes they’re only able to select four or five of these locations.
Amulya Vishwanath: Always have that conversation with the recruiter. Always have that conversation with the recruiter and ask, Hey, you know, I’m based out of New Jersey, is this open and new, New Jersey, and so on.
Amulya Vishwanath: Don’t self eliminate yourself even before getting into that process. That’s my number one tip. And then the second thing is that, when you’re looking for jobs under filters, especially job category, remember to not just look at marketing or product management and so on. Sometimes product management roles sit within the engineering organization. Sometimes they sit within sales teams because they’re looking for a product manager to build sales tools and so on. Make sure you optimize for your keywords, your area of interest, and the domain that interests you. Don’t go by just the, you know set list of jobs or categories that you see in any company’s website.
Amulya Vishwanath: That brings me to the end of my presentation. If you want to learn more, get more interview tips, please feel free to scan my LinkedIn profile and you can find my blog about all things on how to prep for interviews. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Girl Geek team. Thank you so much. That thank
Sukrutha Bhadouria: You. Yeah, this was wonderful. All right well hopefully stay in touch on, on LinkedIn then. Thank you everyone.
Amulya Vishwanath: Good. Thank you.
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