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Alira Coffman
Alira Coffman

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To The Young Female Software Engineer With Her First Job Offer

First and most important: Congratulations! You have put in the effort, struggled through terrible professors, long nights, and might have a slight addiction to coffee. But you made it!
While in my sophomore year of college, I had the opportunity to become a QA Analyst at a small up and coming Mobile Application Company. Now, as a senior in college, I am now a Lead Software Engineer at the same company. I transitioned to a lead development position very quickly which is not always the case, but I have been forced to learn how to adapt. Here is some unsolicited advice you may not have seen while nervously awaiting your big first day:

1. It is okay to be feminine.

Looking feminine is not for everyone, but if it is something that makes you comfortable, confident, and most important happy: GO FOR IT! There is a preconceived notion in this industry on how engineers, especially female engineers should look. But if wearing a skirt or doing your make up makes you happy, do it! If you are more of a band t-shirt and jeans, rock it! Be yourself, even if it challenges the ‘status quo’ (Look into the campaign #ilooklikeanengineer)

2. You should be heard

Software engineering is a team sport. A team should be based in mutual respect, where people are comfortable sharing their well thought out opinions and they know the others will actively listen. But during many social experiments, researchers still find that women are interrupted more than their male counterparts. From my experience, this is still the case in Engineering, from classrooms to meeting rooms. Remember, you should be heard. Your opinion has value.

3. Take risks

Risk is everywhere in this industry: Risks in deploying code, to making certain calls on storage levels, to choosing if you work for a start up or an already successful and large company. Be impressive.

4. Don’t weaken your own ideas.

Ditch the filler language! It does nothing to strengthen our ideas, in fact it starts to weaken them. If I tell you “I think xyz idea will maybe work better that ABC”, it shows hesitation and that I have not convinced myself of my idea. But if I say “XYZ will work better than ABC because….”. It shows confidence and assurance that will make it easier for you to keep peoples attention and persuade them to your ideas easier.

I wish I could give you all the advice you would possibly need in your career. But I will leave you with those main important four, because if you are anything like me, this is one of ten articles on the subject you will be looking at tonight! Good Luck!

Top comments (6)

miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

Just wanted to say how important I think it is that people should be themselves when they take a tech job, not try to conform to some (probably male dominated) image of what they think they should look like. Teams that include a diversity in gender, ethnicity and identity should be stronger and different for it.

Nice article.

aliracoffman profile image
Alira Coffman

I 100% agree! Different backgrounds lead to different ideas! Tech, with its every changing atmosphere, can only benefit!

Thank you for your feedback!

oloryn profile image
Ben Coleman

On #4, yes, if you're confident in your idea, speak it confidently. But don't get in the habit of speaking confidently no matter what the idea is. In the short run, yes, people will respond to your confidence. In the long run, if you have a history of speaking confidently about things that turn out to not be so, or that don't deserve that level of confidence that you gave them, people will lose confidence in you, because they've learned that the confidence with which you speak doesn't actually measure up to the confidence that what you're saying deserves.

This requires learning to objectively evaluate your own ideas for how much confidence they deserve. It's a tough balance to find, and you'll make mistakes at this, but you'll learn. And you'll probably also irritate those who make always speaking confidently part of their own tactics (e.g. some members of Sales and Marketing).

singhacz profile image

We want more female devs! (at least I do)
Mixed teams are way better than just the male ones. Balance should be restored and kept. I say 50/50 would be about right.

v6 profile image
Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View Code of Conduct
🦄N B🛡

Are you sure that an exactly equal number of women even want to be coders compared to men, though?

singhacz profile image

Nope, but if there are any, I'd encourage them to join those overly male collectives.

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