Q: Hey Olivia! I’m just starting out in my career and really want to transition to tech. Can you give me any advice on how best to transition to a career in tech?
A: First, I think it’s important to remember that every industry is now the tech industry. So, I would start by thinking about your passions. Are you interested in psychology, education, finance, or travel? All these different industries have options for you to get into tech.
Once you figure out what passion you want to pursue, you can start to think about what roles exist in that industry. It might be accounting. It could be product design. It might be engineering or user research or marketing. There are so many facets within those broad disciplines. Just think about engineering — you can be interested in data, or design or solving challenge mathematical problems or architecture.
The most important thing to do early in your career is to try a lot of stuff. When you’re taking classes in college, what are the ones that you’re really excited about? What are the ones where you’re reading all the books and thinking about in your free time? It’s important to be aware of what classes you’re excelling in. I sometimes made the mistake in my academic career of being disengaged when things were too easy for me because I wanted to be challenged and to push myself. But I’ve learned that the things that come easy for me, don’t come easily for everyone. The same goes for you. It’s easy for you because that’s something you’re special or extraordinary at. Follow that!
Lastly, I encourage you to think about technology as a whole and as an ecosystem. Even if you’ll never be a software engineer, you should learn how to do basic coding. There are tons of resources online. There are tons of clubs, free classes and meet-ups. The great thing about the software development community is that everyone is so excited to get you excited about it. There is no shame about being brand new or having no idea what you’re doing. It’s actually an entire culture based on failing, and learning, and experimenting and asking for help. That’s one of the most beautiful things about the tech industry. It’s entirely based on this idea of ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, does any know what they’re doing?’ And because it’s all so new and constantly evolving, no one is an expert forever. There’s an opportunity to figure out brand new things and excel in whatever aspect you’re most excited about exploring.
There’s a lot of benefit to being new, seeing things with fresh eyes. I actually think the number one skill to focus on is being a great problem solver. If you focus on finding problems and figuring out how best to solve them, you will be valuable. So, the best advice I have is to push yourself, figure out what you care about, find resources and just start finding problems you want to solve!
Q: Hey Olivia! I am in my 40’s and am super excited about joining VINA. A lot of the women in my card deck are in their 20’s and 30’s. Is VINA exclusively for younger women, or is it also a platform for women in their 40’s and 50’s?
A: I’m really pleased you asked this question! If you haven’t already discovered that you can filter your card deck by age, that’s one of the first things to check out and do. More importantly, in my opinion age is really not necessarily relevant in so many ways. Friendship is so much more about lifestyle and life-stage and having alignment there.
The design of VINA actually deemphasizes age quite a bit. We don’t feature it on your profile card or share your exact age. Instead, we categorize people as being their early 30’s, late 40’s. We also also people to select novelty ages such as Who’s Counting? or Not a girl, Not yet a woman (shout out to Britney), or Forever 21.
I understand the desire to befriend people close in age. For a long time, age was the best way of signifying if someone was in the same life stage. But in our society today, our age is increasingly irrelevant. There are plenty of 22 year olds running businesses, and women in their mid 40’s who are just starting to have a family. You want to spend time with people who share a similar lifestyle rather than people born around the same time. The 22 year old who’s running a business likely has a lot more in common with someone who’s been in the corporate world for decades. You’re thinking about the same problems and your lifestyles are likely very similar.
My challenge to you is to detach yourself a little bit from that number, that age we carry with us. We spend so much of our lives defined by that number. I encourage you to think about who you want to meet from an interest or lifestyle perspective. Some of my very best friendships were with women in their 60’s who I met in my early 20’s. We were both writing a lot and spending lots of time in cafes There’s a lot of value in cross-generational knowledge sharing. We learned so much from each other and had such interesting conversations.
Want more of Olivia June? We thought so!
To give you a chance to get all of your burning questions answered, we’ve decided to start a weekly advice column with Olivia that we’re calling Hey! Olivia June.
We’re going to pull back the curtain and let you tap deeper into her expertise in friendships, social psychology, careers, gender issues, as well as tech, startups and entrepreneurship… or literally anything you need some advice on from a girl friend.
Whatever you’re curious about or experiencing, know that you’re totally not the only one! To hear more from Olivia June, simply submit your question here.