How to Grow Your Tech Career: 5 Top Tips, Necessary Skills, Avoiding Imposter Syndrome and More

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Fairygodboss
April 14, 2024 at 8:25AM UTC

The technology field is an exciting area in which to work, yet it takes persistence, tenacity, strong communication skills and a dedication to teamwork to succeed. That’s according to three female leaders at Charter Communications, Inc., a leading broadband connectivity company that operates the Spectrum brand of internet, TV, mobile and voice services, who shared their experience and key insights for growing and sustaining a career in tech at a recent Fairygodboss webinar. 

The Charter leaders — Marti Moore, Group Vice President of Technology Implementation; Katie Collins, Senior Director of Product Management and Development for Spectrum Mobile; and Shrilata Kallurkar, Director of Video Platforms Testing for Charter’s Video Experience organization — all shared a passion for their jobs and for how the tech field is continuously evolving to serve consumers and change lives. As Moore explained: “Technology is always changing. There’s always something new to explore and learn.”

The full conversation is available here

Skills needed to succeed as a woman in tech

To grow their careers and become leaders in the tech space, Moore, Collins and Kallurkar relied on a few specific skills.

Kallurkar, for instance, emphasized the importance of perseverance and tenacity. “During your career, you may run into some naysayers, but I think that’s true for any work area, not just technology,” Kallurkar said. “You have to persevere in your work. As you grow, it is important to continue to be persistent but also be flexible and open to the opinions of colleagues, so you can work together to find solutions.”

For Collins, her top three recommended skills are 1). Being an excellent communicator; 2). Being a connector; and 3). Being a fast learner. “Great communication skills help with everything from selling ideas to motivating others and building connections between different teams, which helps projects run more efficiently and produces better results,” Collins said. “Ask loads of questions so that you can learn everything you can possibly know about a certain type of technology so that you can quickly become a subject matter expert in that area.”

As one’s career advances, Moore said, it becomes more important to build a good team because managers cannot do it all on their own. “We need to think about how do we set people up for success, hire the right people, and help them with their career development,” Moore said. “We also have to make sure we have diversity within our teams and connect with them on an emotional level, and then help them grow in their career.”

How to overcome imposter syndrome and get more women into technology careers

Collins said when she started working in the mobile industry, she suffered from imposter syndrome and worried about whether she was good enough to do the job she’d been hired for. To overcome those feelings, she focused on her skills at building large networks, her telecom experience, her cable expertise and her ability to learn quickly and connect with regulatory teams and legal partners. As her career continued, she became a subject matter expert, which led to greater success and helped build her confidence.

“Don’t give that internal voice a rent-free stay inside your head,” Collins said. “Change the narrative and focus on why they picked you for the job.”

Another way women can confidently enter the tech space is by fostering and growing strong support systems. Kallurkar credited her family and friends as driving factors behind her success. “I had two children pretty young, but my husband supported me,” Kallurkar said. “You have to make conscious decisions and prioritize work sometimes. You need to rely on a support system around you, and that helps you stay put in the field.”

To get more girls to study math and sciences, Moore suggested women technology leaders participate in programs at the middle and high school levels — a time when many girls are already deciding whether to pursue technology careers. 

“For most girls, the decision about technology careers is actually made early on,” Moore said. “As technology leaders in a male-dominated field, we really need to participate in those programs at schools that target getting young girls interested in technology, and show them that they don’t need to be intimidated.” 

5 tips for women working in technology and engineering

  1. Build relationships that offer support and create opportunities. “Reach out to your contacts and figure out a way to network that offers support to other people,” Moore said. “That support that I can offer is going to come back to me many times over in the future. So the more that I can create a network of people that support and help each other, the better it’s going to be for me in the long term.”

  1. Communicate clearly, confidently and effectively. When communicating to executives, Collins said that the big challenge is, “How do you say more with fewer words?” To do so, Collins said, “Think about capturing the top of the waves, not communicating with the entire ocean.” This means focusing on the most important message that executives need to understand about a project.

  1. Don’t be afraid to get technical — be curious and ask questions. While asking questions is an easy tip to recommend, it’s not always as easy to act on, noted Kallurkar. “Ask questions of the people around you often,” Kallurkar said. Then, she said, take that feedback and encourage people to ask questions as well. Additionally, she said, don’t be afraid to ask leaders about their intent and about what the top priorities should be to help guide the work.

  1. Make informed decisions based on data. “As you move forward in your career, there are going to be times when you want to convince someone to do something,” Moore said. “The way to convince someone to go in the direction that you think they need to go in is to use data. It really helps take the emotion out of it … you’re basically saying, ‘Look, here are the options, and this option is the best option because it has the data to support it.’”

  1. The only woman in the room? Get over it, and so will everyone else. “Act like you belong there, because you do belong there,” Collins said. “And think about other women who maybe were not included and should have been, and bring them along. Then you won’t be the only woman in the room.” 

Find a company with a supportive culture, like Charter.

Finding a supportive and inclusive company to work for is incredibly important for women. Moore, Collins and Kallurkar all have high praise for the culture at Charter. The company has more than 96,000 employees operating in 41 states, with a number of women in senior tech roles, including Charter’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Stephanie Mitchko-Beale.

“Our culture here is fantastic,” Collins said. “I find it to be very collaborative, very supportive. There’s a lot of great talent here.”

Moore added, “It’s really exciting to work for a leadership team who is not just guessing — they know how to make this company great.” She added that when she was starting out in her current role, she was able to utilize coaches and the ability to connect with other Charter employees to excel.

Kallurkar said she appreciates that talent is recognized at Charter. “You get the job done, and someone will recognize you and recommend you cross-functionally,” she said.

Charter also provides a variety of internal resources for employee development, including learning portals, tuition reimbursement, mentorship and sponsorship, and events like Hackathons for creative thinking. More information about careers at Charter is available at jobs.spectrum.com.

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