Sarah Katz

NYC-Based Full Stack JS Developer

From the mind of Sarah...

A Shy Dev Networks: Tales of Two Women In Tech Events

June 17, 2019

This week, I attended two events geared towards women in tech, both organized by PowerToFly. Each event was an opportunity to hear from the tech leadership at the host company, with some time for networking and chatting with recruiters from the host companies (both of who were hiring).

I chose to attend these two events because I'm trying to be open to all options. Both host companies are in the financial industry (not really my top area of interest), but have large tech departments. Neither company was someone I really picture myself working for (although I had applied to one of the companies in the past), but I know that the right job might come to me unexpectedly, so I decided to attend the events and see what happened. Worst case scenario, I would get some free drinks and learn about technology currently being used at these companies. Best case scenario, I make a connection that leads to me getting into the interview process with one (or both) of the companies.

Event Overview

Both events shared a similar format:

  • Networking + Light Refreshments
  • Introduction from the PowerToFly team
  • Introduction from a higher-up at the host company
  • Demo
  • Moderated Panel
  • Q&A
  • Networking + Light Refreshments These are the only two events I've attended organized by PowerToFly, so I don't know if this is the standard format or if it just happened to be the same for these two events.
First Event - My Experience

I arrived during the networking, and was kind of at a loss for what to do. I wanted water but didn't see any (I wasn't exactly early, so they may have run out), and I didn't want alcohol, so I didn't get anything to drink. I met Milena, one of the co-founders of PowerToFly, and she told me the name of the recruiter I should speak with. I saw the recruiter and went over to the table where he was to introduce myself, but shortly after I did that I ran into a former co-worker, so I wound up chatting with her a bit.

The keynote speech, demo, and panel were all interesting and gave me some great insight into what the company is doing and what kind of workplace it is, especially for women. After hearing everything they had to say, I was definitely interested in the company. I sort of wanted to ask a question during the Q&A just to get my name and face out there, but I didn't know what to ask, so I didn't ask anything.

After the Q&A ended, I headed to grab an alcoholic beverage, but they had already been put away. Oh well. I made sure to speak to the recruiter I had met, and I told him he would be hearing from me shortly.

Before leaving, we were asked to fill out a survey, which asked some basic questions about the event. After I filled out the survey, I got a goody bag from the host company, which had nail polish, an emery board, a makeup mirror, something I can't identify, and a lipstick charger and cable (although the cable isn't for my phone - it's probably an iPhone cable). I liked that they gave out the goody bag, but I wish it hadn't been so makeup-focused. I understand that the point is that you can be a woman in tech and like traditionally female things (and I'm definitely excited to try the nail polish, which is a really fun blue), but I wish it had been a more tech-focused goody bag.

Second Event - My Experience

As with the first event, I arrived during networking, and this time I was able to get a bottle of water (I also contemplated an alcoholic beverage, but it seemed like most people were drinking wine and I didn't want to be the lone beer drinker). I mostly stood around feeling awkward, but I was approached by a recruiter and spoke to her for a few minutes, and I was also approached by a few fellow attendees and had a few short chats.

The introduction, product talk, panel, and Q&A were all interesting, but didn't really help me figure out if this would be a good fit for me. The conversation at this event was definitely more technology-centered than at the other event I attended. It was definitely interesting information, but it didn't really motivate me to consider the company.

After the formal part of the evening was over, we were offered an opportunity to see the office (the event was being held in a cafeteria/conference area). I love seeing company offices, so I took that opportunity. I really liked the setup of the office, and the views were amazing. This office sparked an interest in the company that wasn't really there before and made me more enthusiastic about the idea of possibly applying there.

After the tour, we returned to the light refreshments and networking. They were still serving alcohol, and I thought about getting a beer, but I wasn't really feeling up to trying to network, so I just filled out a survey and left. (No goody bag this time)

Overall Thoughts

These were the first events I've attended that were really centered around tech leaders. It was a little hard to relate to the speakers, because I didn't really have anything in common with people who are much further along in their careers than I am. Same with the other attendees - many of them were older than I am, and while in this industry that doesn't necessarily mean they're further along in their careers than I am, it did make it a little harder to relate to them. That said, I still enjoyed hearing from the speakers and seeing the variety among the attendees of these events.

In terms of networking ... the opportunities were definitely there. There were women all over the room mingling. I didn't take advantage of those opportunities, and I should have. And that's something I need to be better about.

Worth It?

The big question .... do I think these events are worth attending? I'd say yes. If nothing else, it's free food, drinks, and an opportunity to hear more about the inner workings of a tech department and what a particular company is focusing on. If you're a big networker, there are definitely networking opportunities. There are recruiters at these events who are happy to chat with potential candidates. It feels like there's a little bit of everything, and I definitely think it's worth checking out.

Would I go to another PowerToFly event? Possibly. It would depend on the host company. I'm certainly interested in hearing about other events they're organizing, and if they're doing one with a company that I think might interest me (and it fits into my schedule), I'd sign up.

I was definitely nervous about these events, but everything turned out okay. I don't know if I'll end up with a job from either of these events, but even if I don't, I still think I got value from attending and I'm glad I signed up for and attended both events.

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