How to Claim Your Place in the Future of Work as a Woman Over 50, From a Senior Leader in Tech

Photo Courtesy of Fairygodboss.

Photo Courtesy of Fairygodboss.

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We’re in a digital revolution — that is, a culture defined and continuously being advanced by technology. 

For most Millennials and Gen Z’ers, this isn’t news. Also referred to as “digital natives,” these younger generations were born scrolling through phone screens, working on laptops and accessing information quickly through handheld tablets. 

But for some “digital immigrants,” or Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers who grew up without technology, incorporating it into their everyday lives at this accelerated speed can be an adjustment — especially at work. 

A team of leaders across Fortune 500 companies, startups and nonprofit organizations recognized this gap in 2017 and founded the Amazing Community to help close it. They’ve since been dedicated to “transforming the narrative about aging and innovation by redefining inclusive workplaces and equipping women 50+ to thrive in them.” 

To that end, the community spoke with experts in technology, media, public and civic sectors and education in a recent conference, “Inclusion by Design: Women 50+ Claiming our Place in the Future of Work.” Together, facilitators and panelists worked to identify ways in which women can claim their place in the future of work as they advance in age and experience. One of the panelists was Fairygodboss’ own Senior Director of Product Design, Bernadette Sheridan

At Fairygodboss, Sheridan elevates the look and feel of the website with a brand-enhancing design that makes it easy for FGB’ers to explore job opportunities, discover resources and connect with one another. She also works with the product, sales and tech teams to launch new features and build great experiences aimed at delighting women in the FGB community. 

But Sheridan wasn’t always in the world of tech design. Her path in this line of work started 10 years ago, when she took a pay cut at an online service provider company to learn about photo rights management, new media and other technical skills she’d need to stay competitive in the industry. This position served as a launching pad that has since advanced her career in the digital space.

Like most Gen X’ers (born between 1965 and 1979), Sheridan says she grew up in an age where she needed to find creative ways to access information if someone had checked out a library book before she was able to get to it. It instilled in her a resourcefulness that she uses to this day.

“Digital natives have constant access to information,” she said. “But digital immigrants have skills of adaptability.” 

Part of staying relevant in any field, at any age, means staying up-to-date with industry news. Sheridan shared with attendees that, for her, this means “keeping up with what I need to know to stay on top of design technology, such as working almost entirely in the Cloud. I also subscribe to design and tech-focused newsletters and make sure I get the right emails in my inbox because there’s so much I need to know just to continue to do the job I do every day.”

She also shared advice on how to rescale and adapt to the constantly changing digital world, telling attendees that they shouldn’t let the fear of feeling behind limit them.  

“Don't be afraid of jumping right in and don't feel like you need to know all the answers,” she said. “Twenty-year-olds don’t know all the answers either.”

Sheridan wrapped things up by leaving attendees with some helpful tools for improving their productivity, communication and project management. Personally, she relies on tools like Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Trello, Jira, Confluence, Slack and Zoom, and resources for learning including YouTube, Udemy, Lynda and Skillshare, adding that she often depends on these to complete her work every day.

“The hardest part about keeping up with the digital revolution is keeping up with the vocabulary to ask what you don't know,” she said before offering a fitting solution. “Google and YouTube will answer pretty much every question."

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Stephanie Nieves is the SEO & Editorial Associate on the Fairygodboss team. Her words can also be found on MediumPayScale and The Muse.