14 Lessons to Learn from Women in DC Tech

This post was written by Social Tables’ Manager, Communications, Claire Harrington, CMP.

Social Tables is a small but mighty operation based in the heart of Washington, D.C., and while my male colleagues are incredible, I’m going to ignore them for the duration of this post (sorry guys) and focus on the women who make up 40% of the company’s workforce.

Collectively, my female colleagues represent some of the brightest minds – female or not – in D.C. tech. This is true because of their education, their passion, and their commitment to constantly developing themselves to add value to our industry. Their backgrounds vary: from hotel management to fashion merchandising, public relations to events, engineering to art, communications to architecture.

You’ll notice that these women don’t have degrees in computer science (though that doesn’t mean a future colleague won’t), and they don’t hail from Silicon Valley (except Whitney!). What you can’t infer from the above text is that each possess big aspirations, an unshakeable work ethic, and an inspiring passion for shaping their success in the predominately male-industry that is technology.

They don’t define that success based upon their own personal achievements. They measure it on their colleague’s and their company’s growth. They measure it on helping one another succeed.

They know that part of that equation includes serving as ambassadors to other women who want to be a part of the same world – whether that means they are our colleagues or our industry peers. Part of achieving that is by amplifying their voices. Here they share some best practices, insights and advice for other women who are considering entering the world of tech:

Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot

“When I was a senior in college I stumbled across Social Tables. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. Tech is so much more than what people automatically assume. I didn’t know that I would have a passion for tech, but now that I am here I wouldn’t change it for the world.” – Arliene Posno, Senior Account Manager

“The tech industry isn’t just for programmers and engineers. I think that’s a common misconception. No matter what industry you’re in, technology is the direction that the world is heading. My background is in hospitality, events and sales. There are many places for women to fit in, so find your place in it.” – Brittney Bernstein, Senior Business Development Associate

“Don’t be afraid to apply just because you don’t have a traditional tech background. Startups need a diverse background to be well rounded and to cover a lot of bases. Just because you can’t code doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into technology careers.” Laura Simmons, Senior Account Executive (Employee #5 and our first full-time female hire!)

Gracie, Laura, Brittney and Cerys

Educate Yourself

“Find what you’re passionate about in the tech industry, and be the best you can be in that field. Educate yourself and be persistent. Every bit of effort you put in serves as a stepping-stone to the impact you can make.” – Gracie Gipson, Account Executive

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn as much as you can – be a sponge, read about all the trends and new emerging technologies, such as what type of tech is currently in use (i.e. HTML 5).” – Lydia Montgomery, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Lean On Other Women

“Don’t think you can’t be a part of the tech world if you’ve never been here before. There are so many learning resources and other women willing to offer advice. Take advantage of Meetups, social media networking opportunities and industry resources to see how you can fit into the tech community.” – Laura Fields, Customer Care Manager

“Try to get in on the ground floor somewhere. There are so many opportunities to grow and succeed. As long as you work hard, you will see tangible results.” – Lauren Kalina, Business Development Associate

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to leaders in the industry. I am continually surprised at how many amazing people (especially fellow women) are willing to give me their time and advice when I reach out.” – Whitney Drazovich, Project Manager

Arliene, Kelly, Julie, Kelly and Sophie

Define Your Role

“If you are someone who needs a manual of what to do next in their role, this isn’t the industry for you. With the tech world being so new, there is ample opportunity for leadership and creativity to make your job your own through personal initiative – something you rarely find in any other industry.” – Julie Giffin, Customer Success Director

“When you are literally building something from the ground up, the ideas and possibilities are endless. Surrounding yourself with people who are not only passionate about their vision, but willing to take as many risks as possible to see it succeed, is an irreplaceable experience.” – Kelly Burke,  Project Manager

“When you work at a startup, you are constantly exposed to many different aspects of running a business. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and see where you what happens. Find where you fit, and make a way for yourself.” – Nicole Piquant, Onboarding Coordinator

Embrace “Every Day is a School Day”

“There are so many awesome things about a startup, but I believe the best part is how much you learn. When you work in this type of environment, you are typically juggling multiple roles, and more often than not, you are unfamiliar with at least one of them. Trying to navigate unfamiliar territory and learning from your mistakes allows you to grow much quicker than you would at an ordinary job where your role is much more defined.” – Sarah Ghessie, Operations Manager

“In a startup culture, roles and tasks are not always black and white, so you are constantly learning as you go. You can’t be afraid to fail, learn from it, and restructure your plan.” – Cerys Brown,  Senior Account Executive

“The day I became comfortable with being uncomfortable is when I really came into my own. You don’t know what you are capable of unless you push yourself beyond your perception of normal. Tech is the perfect environment to test yourself, to fail, and to grow.” – Michelle Doran, Account Executive

Nicole & Sarah

Every single day, these women inspire me. Every single day, they advocate on behalf of females entering the intimidating landscape of technology.

If you’re a woman considering a career in tech, who loves the idea of calling her colleague’s family; who excels at working in organized chaos, and has a desire to shape a growing company, consider joining our team, or any startup that you feel best fits your professional goals and personal desires.

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