If you’re an avid reader like me, chances are you have a “to-read” pile that’s at least 20 books deep. However, (also like me) chances are that giant pile doesn’t stop you from buying more books when you hear a great recommendation.
Recently, Intuit hosted a “Tech Women Summit” as part of the Tech Women @Intuit initiative, and the Boise site participated with our own terrific panel of speakers. Besides offering a plethora of tips and advice on how to excel in the tech space, the Boise panelists also recommended books, mentorship programs, and courses to help women find confidence and gain knowledge in the tech world.
If you’re eager to add a new book to your “to-read” pile or curious about the mentorship programs available within your industry, look no further. TSheets’ women in tech—Julie R., Amy G., Katie B., Erin H., and Janine D.—have a fantastic list of endorsements.
‘The Design of Everyday Things’ by Don Norman
Julie, a user experience (UX) researcher, suggested pursuing research programs within your company that can help you develop empathy for the customer, as well as further your knowledge of the user’s experience.
“The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman (Basic Books, 2013) is “the ultimate guide to human-centered design.” According to the publisher’s blurb:
“Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. The fault, argues this ingenious—even liberating—book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization.”
‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott
This book recommendation comes from Amy, a TSheets product manager. “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) dives into the challenging world of managing other workers in a large tech space, and how you can still be a fantastic boss “without losing your humanity.” Kim Scott has been a consultant and leader within various Silicon Valley-based companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, and more.
“If I had to recommend one book: Radical Candor by Kim Scott…covers how to be very direct but in a very tactful way,” Amy said during the discussion panel. “The book touches on, as you get more into leadership, you have people who are [either standout] ‘superstars’ or [dependable] ‘rock stars.’”
The book goes on to say both types of workers are valuable, and it’s up to managers to help them play to their strengths and determine where they want to go in their careers. Even if you’re not a manager, learning how to evaluate and play to someone’s strengths, “might be a good perspective as you try to advance in your career.”
‘Designing Your Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Senior product designer, Erin, is a big-time reader. Her book suggestions typically cover nonfiction biographies, such as Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” and Shonda Rhimes’ “The Year of Yes,” and anything by Brené Brown. As she put it, “For me, I really like reading books that are unexpected—that I can unexpectedly take with me to work.” One such title is “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (Knopf, 2016).
“I would recommend this book if you’re exploring ‘I want to do something different, but I don’t know what it is,’” she explained. “It’s written by two Stanford professors, and it’s, basically, their course. It teaches you how to figure out what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and how to go about getting a mentor, doing interviews with people, or starting a business (if you want to do that). I highly recommend it.”
Classes, mentorships, and other recommendations
Besides the above book recommendations, the panelists also suggested some tactics for pursuing tech jobs through mentorships, shadowing, and online classes.
While Julie suggested developing empathy for the customer is a great place to start, there may also be classes within your organization that can help you explore the customer’s point of view. Julie also suggests exploring internal communication channels to see what it’s like to experience daily struggles and problem-solving methods in other departments.
Although Katie, a lead developer with TSheets’ Application Programming Interface (API) team, doesn’t read a lot of books, she does read a lot of technical articles. Her favorite thing to recommend is Code School if you want to learn how to program and enhance your technical knowledge. Plus, she says, “They have the best jingles at the beginning of their courses—and I love it.”
Finally, Janine is a big proponent of job shadowing and mentorship programs. “When it comes to [shadowing programs], doing it can teach you so much. You can do as many fake queries as you want, but when you’re actually solving a problem and thinking about the way you want to solve that problem, your brain just works differently,” she said.
Janine also suggests exploring things you’re curious about, walking through problems step by step, and actively working to find solutions that make sense. The more hands-on experience you can get, the better you’ll learn and retain that information.
Inspired, energized, and excited for women in tech
The “Tech Women Summit” left us both inspired and energized for the future. Some amazing women are working within Intuit and even more working within the greater tech world. We feel lucky to hear their stories and are excited to share their words of advice and encouragement with you. Together, we can truly power prosperity!