Happy thoughtful young businesswoman with digital tablet in hand smiling and looking away in front of colleague at background

No such thing as one direction: going backwards can sometimes mean a leap forward

Happy thoughtful young businesswoman with digital tablet in hand smiling and looking away in front of colleague at background

When I left First Internet, it genuinely felt like leaving home for the first time. I was 25 years old and had joined the agency five years earlier to head up the SEO department – and loved it.

The company had a wonderful atmosphere, but I’d reached the stage in my career when I felt that it might be time to spread my wings, learn different skills and expose myself to a wider variety of clients. And so I did, for a few years: I left to try things on my own. I enjoyed it, but after another five years, I was lured back to First Internet by my fellow directors, Scott Baxter and Kat Rodway.

Was it the right thing to do, to go backwards? Working with old colleagues and clients, but in a different role? There were questions, I can’t lie. I worried how much the company would have changed, whether my return would be welcomed and whether what I’d learnt in the interim years would be transferable.

It turns out, it was the best thing I ever did. I’d learned a lot running my own business for the first time, and thanks to great work mentors and welcoming colleagues, Kat, Scott and I quickly settled into our new dynamic and successfully completed an MBO in 2019. We have have since grown the agency to almost 20 staff, winning nine awards and gaining a raft of new clients. I can say, without hesitation, that without the experience learnt from those interim years, I would have found my return, helping to run the agency, much more of a challenge.  Those years were essential to my success, and the success of the agency.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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Careers can be fluid

As an older millennial, I grew up thinking a career path was more linear. Boomers and Gen Xers had traditionally stayed in careers that took a more traditional trajectory and moved with less risk, with a different focus and priority. Things are different now. The average person will work for over 50 years, so there’s no need to stick to a pre-planned path if it isn’t working. Younger generations come into the workplace looking for new and varied experiences. We retain our team because of our great training, credentials and community, but recognise that people move on. Things change. I didn’t originally plan to work in tech at all – my career began in more traditional PR and copywriting, but as the world of media changed around me, I realised my passions lay in content that could be shared online and used to build brands, drive traffic and enable businesses to grow.

In the time I’ve working in digital marketing, I’ve seen it grow exponentially and it’s fantastic to see the quality of content that is delivered by brands as well as the wealth of talent that is constantly coming into the profession. As the metaverse drives this progress and we see the continuing diversification of social media, boom of e-commerce and everyday impact of AI,  there will be even more opportunities for us to build effective, creative and strategic online campaigns for our clients – and I can’t wait.

Going backwards can sometimes be the best thing. Anyone can switch path, move professions or change direction, at any time: the tech industry is constantly changing. As long as you have the right colleagues and mentors, a change really can be as good as a rest: bringing fresh insights, invigorated attitudes and new ambitions to your career path.

Julaine SpeightAbout the author

Julaine Speight is a director at First Internet, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Manchester. First Internet’s services include website design and development, UX design, SEO, social media management and content marketing, and its global client portfolio includes PZ Cussons, Peak AI, Sew Direct and Citation.


Five tips for women looking to begin, or move into, a career in tech

Female working in a Technical Support Team Gives Instructions with the Help of the Headsets. In the Background People Working and Monitors Show Various Information, SysAdmin Day

Article by Alexa Raad, Chief People, Purpose and Policy Officer, HUMAN Security

‘The UK is heading towards a “catastrophic” digital skills shortage “disaster”’. This warning, revealed by a think tank to the BBC in March, highlighted the slow demise of tech talent in the UK.

Before the pandemic, a survey revealed that only 11% of professionals believed that the technology industry in the UK could compete on a global scale.

The tech industry faces a diversity problem, which in turn discourages people from joining the industry. As an historically male dominated industry, the statistic that only 19% of tech workers in the UK are women is no surprise. But, the ‘Great Resignation’ is an opportunity to redress this imbalance. With staff turnover set to cost the UK economy nearly £17bn in 2021, many new jobs have emerged – with talented women vying to fill them.

Below, I share my advice for women aiming for a career in tech, whether it’s at entry level or via a career change.

  1. Skills, skills, skills

The best way to prove yourself worthy of a role is a deep understanding of the required skills. Whether you’re looking for your first role or a new career, picking up the necessary skills early into your journey will stand you in good stead. If you have a passion for ethical hacking, it can take as long as 18 months to acquire the skills to make you proficient. Whereas career-competent education in coding can be learned within six months.

While not every tech job requires coding knowledge, the relevant skills can be learned outside of formal education and remotely now, too. Edtech platform Coursera saw 21 million new joiners during the peak of lockdown – showing an appetite for continuous upskilling.

  1. Find a female mentor or role model

Research proves that women helping other women are more successful. Women already in the industry will have likely overcome some form of adversity and will be willing to pass on their words of wisdom to you. It is also true that people can’t be what they can’t see – and having a mentor whose footsteps you can follow can be beneficial to learn from.

Social media combined with the challenges posed by the pandemic, mean that it’s now easier than ever to connect with like-minded women in your chosen field. Lean on, and learn from, them.

  1. Put yourself out there

The employment and upskilling of women is high on the agenda of a large majority of businesses – especially in tech. The need to redress the imbalance, amongst other D&I objectives, has only become more paramount in recent years.

Social media can be a great tool to learn about the opportunities businesses have to offer. However, take this one step further and find the hiring managers, CEOs, or HR teams in the organisation to ask them about their company and start selling yourself.

Not only can this encourage more women to step forward for new roles, the pandemic has given them the tools to do this. Virtual events, webinars and increased social media use may have arisen through unfortunate circumstances, but also levelled the playing field. Now that the UK is open, continue to put yourself out there.

  1. Bring your whole self!

Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. The tech sector may have a reputation for being male-dominated, but it really is changing. That means many progressive tech companies are asking ‘what can you bring?’ rather than ‘will you fit in?’. I would steer clear of the ones that don’t value this diversity.

  1. Find internships or training fellowships to make the first step

Internships can be instrumental in making a first step into a new industry. While getting the opportunity to learn, you also get to put these lessons into action and apply your knowledge – and (hopefully) get paid while doing so.

If you’re looking for a career change, adult apprenticeships can be invaluable – allowing you to learn new skills, gain experience and also transfer existing skills into your new career. Adult apprentices may also be eligible for funding if they choose to undertake advanced apprenticeships, ensuring they are supported through this career change.

Meanwhile, fellowships can be great tools to apply scholarly experience and knowledge to make the first or next step in your career – usually guaranteeing experience, reimbursement, and a learning experience, too.

At HUMAN, we recently announced the Dan Kaminsky Fellowship – in honour of our late co-founder and Chief Scientist. HUMAN is offering Fellows a year of full-time employment to dedicate to deep work on their open source project. Fellows will enjoy the same employment benefits as all HUMAN employees.

What does the industry need to do?

The sector needs to do a better job of promoting the huge range of opportunities available in tech. We need mathematicians, engineers, and coders; but we also need amazing communicators, project managers, marketers, HR people and more! With more diversity in these roles, the whole sector will benefit from a greater breadth of ideas as we attract people from a wider range of backgrounds. Tech remains one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, but many outside of the industry still have a slightly blinkered view of what’s possible with a career in tech.

Alexa RaadAbout the author

Alexa Raad is Chief People, Purpose and Policy Officer at HUMAN Security. Alexa has deep knowledge in the cybersecurity, DNS, and internet infrastructure industries, and is the author of a US and European patent in cybersecurity. In addition, Alexa is a 25+ year tech industry veteran, P&L leader and strategic advisor to CEOs, executive teams, and private equity teams. Alexa has a successful track record of growing revenues, scaling organizations internationally, and developing new markets in US, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.


From charity to coding: Why it’s never too late to change your career  

It was on my return from travelling South America with my fiancé that I decided I didn’t want to go back to my old career. I had spent 10 years in the charity sector and it just didn’t bring me the enthusiasm that I had experienced when I first set out.

Beyond that I didn’t have a clue, I just tried to be as open minded as possible.

What I could never have imagined was that, age 30, I’d be an apprentice software developer – and, on top of that, loving it!

Not only did I think apprenticeships were for much younger people, but I had never shown any interest in IT. I had all these preconceptions about it, I hadn’t any interest in computers and didn’t think it was very sociable. Even though my boyfriend was a software engineer, I just never thought it was for me.

After spending weeks trawling networking events and workshops, I stumbled across a one day coding course put on by a global charity called Django Girls, where I learned how to build a blog site. I thought knowing how to build a website would look good on my CV, but when I had a go myself I really got into it – I wanted to know more, how and why.

Suddenly I became excited about it, I thought about all the other things I could do with these new skills and how I could achieve it. I hadn’t gone looking for coding, but it was like something clicked – I was suddenly interested in it all.

The next step was having the confidence to apply for an apprenticeship.

The workshop I had taken part in held at Code Nation, a Manchester-based software development and apprenticeship provider and coding school. Through them I learned about a role at EMIS Health.

The company is the UK’s leading provider of software to the NHS – supporting more than 10,000 organisations including GP practices, community pharmacists and hospital trusts in their daily work on the frontline.  It has played a key role supporting service delivery during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company runs an apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Code Nation, giving applicants the opportunity to train and then become junior software developers.

I didn’t expect to get it. I’m not someone who’s had a passion for coding my whole life or knew an awful lot about it, but because I enjoyed it so much I decided it was worth applying for – and I’m glad I did! Something I’ve learned since is that EMIS Health is very keen on getting women into the tech industry, and they weren’t looking for someone with all the answers, they just wanted someone with problem solving skills and a passion for it.

I started the course with Code Nation in September 2019 and started my full time role as a junior software developer with EMIS Health in January.

There’s something about the industry that’s very exciting. The world is taking such strides in terms of technology advances it’s really interesting to learn about. And, contrary to my early misconceptions, it’s very sociable! You work as a team with people who share the same passions and are interested to hear about what you have discovered.

There’s also a real push to get more women into the tech industry, so if anyone is interested in either starting a new career or learning more about it, there are lots of opportunities.

As well learning new technical skills, it’s great that I’ve been able to continue making a difference to society. I worked in the charity sector because making a difference is important to me. One of my concerns with moving jobs was whether I would find something that fulfilled that side of things.

EMIS Health’s technology directly supports the frontline work of clinicians across the UK, including GPs, pharmacists and hospital trusts. I’m a small cog in a big machine, but it’s still a machine that’s making a difference and I’m proud to be part of it.

So, to anyone thinking they are too old to change their career, you can still go on to be successful in a completely new industry, there are lots of opportunities out there – you just have to take that first step!

To find out more about careers at EMIS Health, visit https://emisgroup.careers

Vicky HotchkissAbout the author

Vicky Hotchkiss, from Chorlton, in South Manchester, is one of EMIS Health’s newest apprentices - developing software that supports frontline NHS clinicians.

Originally from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, she earned a degree in environmental studies at the University of York and worked in the charity sector for around 10 years before retraining to become a junior software developer.


WeAreTechWomen Jobs Board

WeAreTechWomen are proud to announce the launch of our new Women in Tech job board platform

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WeAreTechWomen Jobs Board

WeAreTechWomen are proud to announce the launch of our new Women in Tech job board platform.

With the percentage of women in the tech industry at a measly 17 per cent in the UK and 16 per cent globally, we know there is more to be done to attract women into technology and to encourage more women with transferable skills to consider a career in tech.

For the past few years, many of our corporate partners have been trying to attract female talent into their organisations. They often share the fact that more men apply for their roles than women and how they would like to see a balanced slate of applications. When we have held focus groups over the years with our women in tech community, we are hearing that they don’t know where to go to look for opportunities with firms who will really help them to achieve their full potential. Do we have the answer? We’d like to think so.

Today, WeAreTechWomen are proudly announcing the launch of our new revamped job board for women in tech. It won’t solve world peace, but it may help you find the job of your dreams at an employer that will truly support you and your career. We won’t be working with every company, just those that can demonstrate they are on the journey towards gender equality and that they are putting in place programmes or support systems to progress women in the workplace.

WeAreTechWomen Jobs

We are proud to launch our job board with a number of roles with our long-term partners, BAE Systems, Oliver Wyman, PwC and Northern Trust.

Over the coming weeks we will be on boarding other companies such as Credit Suisse, OpenFin, Sky and few other household names.

If you are looking to change roles and feel you are ready for an exciting new career change, please explore the jobs on the new job board. We are featuring full-time, part-time, flexible, work for home roles, as well as many other opportunities, such as return to work programmes.

If you are an immediate job seeker, you can also upload your CV to the portal, sign up for job alerts and read about some of the companies who are recruiting via our company site pages.

We will be adding additional functionality over the coming weeks and if there is something missing, something you would like to see, or even if you would like your company to promote jobs with us, please do get in touch via [email protected].

The job board forms part of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen, which is predominantly visited by women, however we do encourage job applications from all genders.

 
 

“I am extremely excited to announce the launch of our new WeAreTechWomen job board.”

“The new platform will enable us to connect our WeAreTechWomen members to companies who are serious about building their pipeline of female tech talent.”

“The new platform has improved the overall functionality and look of our previous platform. We now have the ability to feature more content and create dedicated pages for clients in order to promote their roles and tell their stories!”

“I am looking forward to WeAreTechWomen Jobs being the conduit between women in tech seeking a career change and firms who will not just recruit them, but who will actively support their career progression.”

VANESSA VALLELY OBE, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF WEARETHECITY & WEARETECHWOMEN

Theresa PalmerBAE Systems Applied Intelligence are proud to partner with WeAreTechWomen and excited to be part of the launch of their new jobs platform so we can further promote our great company and the broad range of opportunities we offer in tech and cyber to their talented audience of leading women.

THERESA PALMER, HEAD OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION, BAE SYSTEMS AI

Looking to advertise your roles?

If you are interested in promoting your open roles on WeAreTechWomen Jobs, we’d love to hear from you. We have lots of different opportunities available to suit all budgets.

To find out more about the new platform, get in touch below.

CONTACT US

woman working on laptop featured

Kickstart your career in tech from the comfort of your own home

Article by Shan Beerstecher, Club Executive at AND Digital

We’ve all seen the stats. Despite a decade-long push to try and encourage women into tech roles, females still only represent around 19% of the digital workforce. It’s time to make a change. 

As the events of Covid-19 encourage us to chase new talents and pick up new skills, we now have a unique opportunity to kickstart a career in tech. And thanks to the shift to digital, this can all be done from the comfort of our own home. Here are a few of my tips.

Expand your network

It really is true that empowered women, empower women. Joining online forums and attending virtual meetups is a great way to meet people with a mutual interest in learning about tech, to trade tips and boost confidence in those early stages. This is also a great way to build your network within the industry. You don’t know which new connection might be working in the company of your dreams, have the intel on the next big hiring spree or be able to guide you into your ideal role.

It’s also very important to remain inspired while pursuing your new career in tech. Find motivating female role models on LinkedIn or listen to their Ted Talks. If you come across someone that really strikes a chord with you; follow them, listen to them, and if you can, connect with them.

Sign up for online courses

The most obvious way to test the water of your tech career – just give it a try. There are a lot of great online courses out there, many of which are free to encourage interest in the sector. When you can give coding a go without parting with your pennies (or leaving your sofa), there really is nothing to lose.

For example, Code First Girls (CFG), an online community dedicated to empowering women in tech, has created a range of great free courses to develop your skills in the programming world. Its eight-week Coding Kickstarter course will launch on September 7th, offering an introduction to frontend development, JavaScript, and equipping you with all of the skills you need to try building your own website from scratch. The fantastic team at CFG have worked hard to create courses that cater to different interests in tech, so if Coding Kickstarter isn’t quite what you are looking for, you can browse the rest of their sessions here.

Focus on your soft skills

One of the biggest myths I encounter in the industry is that you need a tech degree to work in tech. It just isn’t the case. I’m not technical and my tech career has spanned nine years. On top of there being an abundance of non-technical roles within the digital industry, from owning and understanding products, to driving delivery, designing, and leading teams; soft skills can be a lot more important than what you have written down on paper. What you need is a passion for what technology can give you, your community, our society and a willingness to learn.

Can you collaborate effectively within a team? Are you a great listener? If you can showcase soft skills such as empathy, respect and creativity, you’re already halfway there in securing your new tech role. Remember, technical skills can always be learnt.

A great way to showcase soft skills is through your own pet projects – side hustles if you will. Taking time out of your personal schedule to pursue a new hobby shows genuine interest in the topic, an ability to prioritise your time, and most importantly, spotlights your personality. Another popular myth to bust is that we are not all robots working in tech. We all have interests outside of work, and this is the side of you your new employer wants to see.

This is something we are big on at AND Digital. Even our job descriptions are double-barrelled. For instance, while my official role is Club Executive AND Proudly South African – a testament to my home country and obsession with Nelson Mandela leadership styles - my team consists of fitness fanatics, amateur bakers and body poppers, to name just a few! It adds a personal touch to our email signatures but also makes for a great conversation starter - who really enjoys small talk anyway?

Have confidence

Pursuing a career in tech is not as daunting as it may seem. I’ve actually found it to be one of the most inclusive and supportive fields I have had the pleasure of working in. Digital is virtually limitless, attracts some of the best minds of our generation and is guaranteed to continue going from strength to strength in coming years. Tech is booming across the world, but there will always be the need for a strong digital workforce to drive it forward. Why shouldn’t you be one of them?

If we continue taking steps to support each other, make use of online resources and accentuate the brilliant qualities of our ‘non-work’ selves, I’m confident we can overcome gender misrepresentation in digital and encourage many more women into tech.

Shan BeerstecherAbout the author

Shan is an innovative and collaborative digital leader with experience across diverse industries and geographies. Bringing a balance of business, people/culture, digital and agile delivery into all of her work, Shan has led digital transformation projects for a number of large financial services organisations and created value for global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


WeAreTechWomen & Jobbio featured

WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen launch new job board platform in partnership with Jobbio

WeAreTechWomen & Jobbio

WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen have partnered with Jobbio, to create a digital careers marketplace targeting their four million monthly visitors.

Dating back to 2014, the WeAreTheCity Jobs Board promotes career opportunities to their large and growing female demographic of 120,000 members. As more businesses focus on talent diversity and inclusion to drive innovation and create competitive advantage, this partnership will serve to further support businesses and boost their female pipeline in the technology, financial services, professional services and legal sectors.

vanessa-high-res-watc_1715-tech-site

Vanessa Vallely OBE, Managing Director of WeAreTheCity said “I am extremely excited to begin our partnership with Jobbio."

"The new jobs board platform will enable us to connect our WeAreTechWomen members to companies who are serious about building their pipeline of female tech talent."

"Partnering with Jobbio on the new platform has improved the overall functionality and look of our previous platform."

"We now have the ability to feature more content and create dedicated pages for clients in order to promote their roles and tell their stories!"

"I am looking forward to WeAreTheCityJobs being the conduit between women in tech seeking a career change and firms who will not just recruit them, but who will actively support their career progression."

The job board platform launches today with a focus on jobs in the technology sector. This is to coincide with the launch of WeAreTheCity’s latest resource platform for women working in technology, WeAreTechWomen.com. Additional jobs across a multitude of sectors will be added over the coming weeks.

Screen grab for new job board

WeAreTheCity jobs launched with partners such as IBM, Oliver Wyman, Deloitte, C&C Search and DataArt. Clients joining the new job board platform over the coming weeks include Barclays, PwC, Net-A-Porter, Worldpay, Refinitiv, SAP and BNY Mellon, amongst others.

Stephen Quinn, CEO, Jobbio said “This partnership comes at a time when both companies have already established strong company branding platforms."

"At Jobbio we are passionate about the progression of women in the workplace."

"We have worked with WeAreTheCity for a number of years on initiatives such as the Rising Star Awards and our careers fair, Higher."

"Building the new jobs board platform together is a fantastic evolution of our partnership."

"The new platform will bring greater opportunities, such as the ability to distribute relevant client content, such as recruitment videos, staff interviews and articles, all of which have been proven to boost company job applications and enable candidates get a better understanding of company culture."

"Now, using WeAreTheCity’s multiple distribution channels (which include newsletters, job alerts and social media) companies will be able to promote open roles alongside their content, which attracts both job seekers and the passive market."

New partners Jobbio, are headquartered in Dublin, but also have an office in London. A careers marketplace and inbound hiring platform, Jobbio connects the best talent with the most innovative companies. The brand reaches a talent base of over 100 million people and is trusted by 6,000 companies globally. Jobbio will enable companies working with WeAreTheCity to gather applications, and then build a talent pool for immediate or future use.

The job board forms part of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen, which is predominantly visited by women, however we do encourage job applications from all genders.

To find your next open role, visit here.

To promote your open roles on WeAreTheCity Jobs or to take advantage of our free three month job promotion trial, please contact [email protected]


23-Code-Street-featured

Why it's finally time to learn to code

 

23 Code Street

When thinking about what new skill to learn or a career change, have you ever thought about coding?

Every day we all visit websites and use different apps - these are all built by using code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone can learn to code - you really don’t need to be a math genius or a ‘bro’ wearing a hoodie. These are just outdated stereotypes, in fact, women were actually the original pioneers of tech.

All you need is a motivation to learn and time to practice. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you- like problem-solving, basic math, an eye for detail, and the ability to Google!

For the past two and a half years, 23 Code Street has been teaching women how to code. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in India. They run part-time web development courses for beginners which include an internship so students can get hands-on work experience. Below they’ve rounded up their top reasons to start coding:

Learn an in-demand skill

Due to the digital skills gap, employers are constantly looking to hire people with a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of technical jobs needing to be filled is increasing. This report found that there are over seven million jobs which require coding skills, and programming jobs, overall, are growing 12 per cent faster than the market average.

23 Code Street graduates have gone on to work as developers, been promoted as a result of their new tech skills and even become coding teachers. Natalja, a freelance graphic designer, completed their course last year and now works as a teaching assistant for the school.

Say goodbye to the 9-5

Coding can be part of a great flexible career and help you be in control of your own work/life balance. Many coding jobs can be done remotely at hours that suit you. You can work for a company, be a freelancer, or use coding as a way to up-skill in your current profession. Kelly is a mum of two boys and wanted to learn to code to be able to work alongside tech teams with confidence and work flexibly around her children- you can read her blog here.

Enjoy a rewarding career

At first, learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling.

You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online! The tweet below was from Iqra who received a scholarship as part of 23 Code Street x Amaliah’s  to learn to code scholarship.

23 Code Street

Feel empowered and empower other women

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88 per cent of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on innovation and the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry,  smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring next generation of girls to work in tech.

Interested in learning to code? Find out more about 23 Code’s Street next Web Development Foundation starting on the 14th March here.