6 Tried & True Tips for Learning How to Code

Guestblog written by Jen Star, Next Day PC

Whether you work with computers professionally or are an interested hobbyist, learning how to code can have a number of great benefits.

At the same time, many people are put off because they assume it is difficult or they simply don’t know where to begin.

Well the good news is it is definitely not as hard as you may assume! We asked a number of successful, self-taught coders what tips they would pass on if they were starting to learn code today – so now you know where to start – with this article.

1) Practical Problems

Many people will suggest you start out with a thorough grounding in the theory of code. Whilst that is of course true – without the basic tools you can’t do anything – theory can also be… kind of boring.

So ask yourself what it is that you want to code – what problem do you think you can solve, what service are you missing, what game do you want to play. Once you know that, gear your studies toward that one thing and it will much more interesting.

2) Javascript is The Standard

When you are just starting out it is highly advised that you learn JavaScript first of all. Javascript is pretty much uniformly recognised as the standard programming language in the world – and also the most popular.

So learn to code Javascript first, and you will be learning skills that will translate to the most applications.

3) Read

A great book to read – probably before you do any studying of code at all – is Code Simplicity. Why is it so good? Well, it barely contains any code at all. Instead, it is written to discuss and celebrate the art of programming and coding. It also discusses some very simple concepts relating to coding, making it perfect or the absolute beginner to get a solid grounding in the craft.

4) Have Fun

There are various coding courses out there designed for kids. Don’t sneer at that, they are pretty much giving out the exact same information as beginner courses designed for mature students.

The main difference is that they are fun! Code.org has a number of excellent coding courses that are based around things like Star Wars. So head on over there, learn the basics and have fun doing it.

5) Stay At The Cutting Edge

As we discussed above, the world of coding moves pretty fast. It’s important therefore that you keep at the tip of cutting edge technology and discussions of the theories and practices of coding and programming.

You can sign up to expensive monthly journals, but it’s cheaper – and probably more fun – to find some blogs and podcasts of programmers and coders you like and trust and subscribe to them. They’re free, they’re sometimes fun and they will definitely keep you up to date.

6) Construct a Portfolio as You Work

Finally, as you gain more experience and begin to build code and programmes, start to save your work in a portfolio (or set up a account at GitHub).

Firstly, it will motivate you to look back over your earlier work as you progress, and get a real sense of just how far you’ve come.

Secondly, if you’re considering going professional with this then it will be a big help to have a portfolio of your work to show prospective employers – so start building it early.

 

Written by Jen Starr. Jen Starr is part of the community team at Next Day PC. Jen enjoys staying on top of the latest tech trends and sharing how new tech can positively impact people’s lives.

DevelopHer Advent Calendar

It’s that time of the year again where we’re definitely feeling the festive spirit! With the holidays being a time for giving, the DevelopHer team have come up with a few ideas that we’d love to share with you each day in December. Whether it’s our wish list of gifts that we think will lighten up your day, or our suggestions on how to help others – here’s the ultimate DevelopHer list of Holiday Cheer! Make sure you tune back into this blog post each day this month to see what surprise we have for you!

25.) Day 25. Christmas Day 2018

The DevelopHer UK Team wish you an amazing Christmas Day and Holiday season. Whether you are with loved ones, solo, home or away, we hope it’s full of fun, food and happiness. As we look forward to 2018, which we have named “Your Bravest Year Yet”, we’ve been preparing for a jam-packed year of hosting events,  building programmes and creating resources to inspire and support you. We have loved meeting you, making new friends, and chasing after bigger goals and new interests this year. After a huge year of growth we will be looking for more people to join our team of volunteers. Watch this space and twitter.

A huge thank you to all our wonderful partners, supporters, and you – our community, who make up DevelopHer UK. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New year!

24.) Day 24

Take the time to make next year Your Bravest Year Yet! Sign up to be involved.

bravest year yet

DevelopHer team,
“Next year is all about you. For 2018,  why not make it your Bravest Year Yet? DevelopHer are working in collaboration with The Bravest Path, part of Brene Brown’s network and we’re running a 6 month programme to encourage, support and develop women who are just starting or growing their careers in tech. Whether you want to build a new start-up, kickstart a career in coding or progress in a tech environment – we know you need support to start impacting the C-suite. We ran the mentoring programme before with great success which resulted in 3 new businesses, promotions across the whole cohort and a new sense of vision and focus. To learn more about you can apply to your Bravest Year Yet – sign up for more information!”

 

23.) Day 23

Make a difference by volunteering  in London, Free

mission london.jpg

Laura, DevelopHer
“From now up until the New Year, there are tons of ways to help others this Christmas especially in London. The biggest joy this holiday is giving, and there is nothing better then giving your time to those who need it. There are many great organisations including the Whitechapel mission who gets over 300 visitors a day during Dec to get food and a touch of warmth. There are also Winter night shelters who are looking for volunteers between now and Jan to help give people a warm place to sleep for the night! Read more London volunteering options here

22.) Day 22

Choose Love and help a refugee, from £5

refuggees

Louise, DevelopHer
“Choose Love is a pop-up store in London that sells products for refugees. You might not leave the shop with anything, but your purchase will go to one of the 80+ projects supported by Help Refugees. If that’s not in the spirit of the holidays, I don’t know what is!”

21.) Day 21

STEM children classes at Imperial College from London, from £160

stem classes

Anna, DevelopHer
“For the little ones: these classes include real-life challenges that encourage children (aged 4-12) to put theory into practice in a fun and engaging way, with a special emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Classes range from Coding to Engineering to Robotics – taking place out of school hours. A taste of four sessions starts at £160.”

20.) Day 20

Support businesswomen living in poverty to help run a successful enterprise, with Oxfam from £19

imageoxfam

Sally, DevelopHer
“Support a start up. This gift helps a businesswoman living in poverty to build the skills to run a successful enterprise. Providing access to literacy and numeracy training, along with mentoring and advice, this gift helps to build confidence, capability and entrepreneurial success.”

19.) Day 19

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, from £8.31Anna, DevelopHer
“Need some inspiration for New Year’s resolutions? This book features a lot of swearing, but it also gives you a very practical guide to putting more order into your life. I read this book on my summer holidays and was very inspired by it! It helps identify and prioritise things in life that are most important to you – and to graciously deprioritise things you really should not “give a f*ck” about.”

18.) Day 18

Sphero Ball, a small robotic ball you can program (for kids or adults!), from £45
sphero ball

Sarah, DevelopHer
“Designed to inspire curiosity, creativity and invention through connected play and coding, Sphero’s SPRK+ is far more than a robot. Use it with the Lightning Lab app on your iPhone or iPad to easily learn programming, complete hands-on activities and share your creations with the community. Navigate a maze, program a painting, mimic the solar system. The only limit is your imagination!”

17.) Day 17

Buy useful items for the homeless, From £2

Sophie, DevelopHer
“CRACK + CIDER is a store where customers can buy useful items for our city’s homeless. After speaking with local shelters, the founders curated a list of the most essential items a homeless person might need. You simply choose which item you want to give, purchase it and they will do the rest on your behalf.”

16.) Day 16

Oven gloves, £16

Martyna, DevelopHer
“I love baking and I don’t know how I’ve managed so far without oven gloves! I’d quite like a cute oven glove like this one. Brownie points for the Disney print. Ha, “brownie” points, get it? ;)”

15.) Day 15

Donating to Save the Children UK, Text TEAMXMASTECH to 70050 to donate £5 to Save the Children UK

DevelopHer Team
“Today is Christmas Jumper Day and this year DevelopHer is supporting Save the Children UK. Text TEAMXMASTECH to 70050 to donate £5. Your donation will help bring essential healthcare, education, protection and food to millions of children around the world who are missing out on these basics. Your support can protect children from easily preventable yet still deadly diseases like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia. This Friday, nothing’s out of bounds, except good taste. Go big. Go bold. Put that Crazy Christmas Jumper on and text TeamXmasTech to 70050 – the whole £5 will go to Save the Children UK.”

14.) Day 14

Queen B on Top of the Christmas Tree, £80

Sally, DevelopHer
“My dream Christmas tree topper would be Queen Beyonce – get this 3D printed Beyonce sculpted in all her singing glory with mic and angelic wings! She isn’t just a chart topper, now she is a tree topper.”

13.) Day 13

Kindle, from £59.99

kindle.jpg

Louise, DevelopHer
“If you’re a speed reader like me, a Kindle is the best thing since sliced bread. Not only does it save me breaking my back from lugging books on the tube, it also makes books a bit cheaper to buy. Whilst it can’t replace the smell and feel of a good book, it does mean I can read the entire Harry Potter collection on the holiday break!”

12.) Day 12

Swing Patrol London – Classes Card, from £45

swing

Anna, DevelopHer
“Going to a dance class can be a really fun way to forget about your day-to-day to de-stress. Swing Patrol offers classes all throughout London and they work on a drop-in basis, meaning you can attend every week, or more sporadically. I go to Swing Patrol classes very often and can on recommend it as a new hobby to try out!”

11.) Day 11

Buy lunch from the M&S Shelter Festive Collection, from £1.50

M&S Shelter

Emily, DevelopHer
“M&S donate 5% of certain festive products to the housing and homelessness charity, helping fund all calls answered by the Shelter helpine at Christmas. The juice is delicious.”

10.) Day 10

Buy a Christmas Jumper for the DevelopHer Christmas Party on Tuesday to help raise money for Save the Children, from £25

Sally, DevelopHer
“This year we are supporting Save The Children in their Christmas Jumper Campaign. The money raised from the sale of these uber cool sweatshirts could help Save the Children bring essentials like healthcare, education, protection and food to the millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support.”

9.) Day 9

Neom De-Stress Kit, £20

Laura, DevelopHer
“This year I want my Christmas break to be stress-Free! That’s why I’m loving this de-sress kit by Neom that has 4 essential oils that includes the smells of lavendar and jasmine to de-stress the mind and body.”

8.) Day 8

Coping at Christmas – 5 Top Tips to Look After Your Mental Health Through the Holiday, Free Advice

christmas---feet157C19DA9C0A

Sally, DevelopHer
“There is a scene in the cult ’80s film “Flash Gordon” when at the Emperor Ming’s wedding a plane drags a banner across the sky with the message ‘All citizens will make merry’. This is quickly followed by another plane with the message ‘On pain of death’. During the festive season, the pressure to be seen to be having a good time can feel overwhelming if you are dealing with mental ill health and emotional difficulties. In addition, Christmas can bring lots of additional stresses such as travelling, eating more food, drinking more alcohol, family arguments, financial pressures and increased household work. Here are some top tips from the Priory to help you survive and get you through the season .”

7.) Day 7

DevelopHer Holiday Tunes for The Holiday Season, Free

DevelopHerUK

Sophie, DevelopHer
“Welcome to the DevelopHer UK Holiday Spotify playlist. All of our fav Christmas tunes for you in one place. Wishing you the best holiday ever, sending peace and happiness for a restful holiday and if in doubt, put this on in the lead up to Christmas Day and don’t forget to sing and dance.”

6.) DAY 6

Goldieblox, from £9

goldieblox

Louise, DevelopHer
“One for the little ladies in your life. Through the integration of storytelling and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) principles, Goldieblox creates toys, books, apps, videos, animation and merchandise; the tools that empower girls to build their confidence, dreams and ultimately, their futures.”

5.) DAY 5

Christmas Party Invitation for the DevelopHer Community, tickets £5.82Developher Christmas Jumper Party

DevelopHer, Women of Wearables & Blooms London
“We warmly invite you to join us together on December 12th at 7.00pm for a festive evening of drinks, nibbles, #Christmas jumpers and great company, as our communities come together! Everyone is welcome!”

4.) DAY 4

New Philosopher Subscription, €39 for a year

New Philosopher subscription

Emily, DevelopHer
“I adore this quarterly journal as it’s a welcoming way to explore familiar topics with a fresh perspective, but without forcing opinion. Daily we’re fed news we can’t always trust and opinion posing as fact, and this makes me think and question my understanding of the everyday as well as the future It’s perfect to dip in and out of, I discovered this at an airport and it took me 3 months to finish. Each edition takes a question on one theme and explores it through art, writing, technology and history. If you want to check out a back copy I’ll happily share it.”

3.) DAY 3

Bletchley Park visit, £17.75 per ticketBletchley park London

Martyna, DevelopHer
“Ever since I’ve moved to London I’ve been meaning to go to Bletchley Park – to see how the Codebreakers changed the course of history during WWII and how that became the foundation of modern Information Technology.”

2.) DAY 2

Help Crisis at Christmas using your IT skills, free

Crisis at Christmas

Sally, DevelopHer
“Crisis at Christmas is the biggest volunteering operation around the nation every Christmas. It offers an abundance of varied ways everyone can help make someone else’s yuletide season that extra bit special. They need IT skills. Get involved to help guests make the most of technology available in the Christmas at Crisis centres.”

1.) DAY 1

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life Book, £6.95

Calendar 1

Laura, DevelopHer
“Now almost every event I’ve been to this year, someone has mentioned this book and I think it’s about time I get round to reading it this Christmas. Written by Jen Sincero it’s a great read to start the new year by changing the self-sabotaging beliefs, and start getting what you want! 2018 – is going to my year of being badass!”

 

DevelopHer Xmas

DevelopHer Retreat: How we refreshed, reflected and refocused.

2017 has been a busy year, for all of us. With our active lives, we’re all moving at a hundred miles an hour and before you know it the winter nights have come upon us and we’re already heading into the new year. At DevelopHer, we really wanted to take the time to just stop for one moment. To stop and to get our team together – out of this crazy London city – and think about what this year meant for us and how we can continue helping our community going forward.

This time we had together was invaluable, not only as a team but as friends who are all passionate about making a difference. For that reason, we wanted to share with you our weekend experience and what this means for our community:

  1. Re-fresh

 

 

We all need a time out now and again. With the wonderful hosting skills of Sally from DevelopHer – we headed to Hertfordshire for a retreat where we were greeted with food, wine, open fireplaces and the chance to show our best dance moves to disco themed vinyls.

On the Saturday morning, we started the day with a fresh autumn walk in the countryside followed by a Creative Art Therapy Session hosted by Lizzy Duncan from Make Some ArtThis session gave us a safe space using an array of art materials, providing an opportunity to be ourselves, unleash our creativity, think more broadly and to connect with each other through art making. Individually, we were given a puzzle piece to fill in – allowing us to use our brain in a creative way, without rules or restrictions. After our individual contributions, we pieced our artwork together and revealed a truly colourful, authentic and collaborative outcome. We also felt more focused, calmer and our minds refreshed for the rest of the day. A wonderful exercise, so thank you Lizzy!

  1.  Reflect

With our minds refreshed, we also took a moment to reflect some of our successes at Developher both personally and as a community. We’ve been blown away from the feedback and engagement of our members and this year has we had a number of highlights including:

  • Being nominated and shortlisted for We Are Tech Women 2017 Network of the Year
  • Partnering our 2017 events with General Assembly, LaFosse, Appnexus, Social Media Week, AI Tech World, Wonder Women Tech London, Moo, React, EveryWomen and Cass Business School
  • Emily, Eniko and Martyna from DevelopHer mentioned in the Guardian, Econsultancy and BBC NewsBeat
  • Sarah from DevelopHer nominated for We Are Tech 50 Women Awards and presenting at a TedX talk on ‘Magic and the Machine’
  • Laura, Ella and Eniko from Developher and Lauren Ingram from our DevelopHer mentoring programme shortlisted as The Drum 50 under 30 Women in Digital
  • Alessia from DevelopHer welcomed a new baby member to the community!
  • Spotting Iona Inglesby from our DevelopHer Mentoring Programme being nominated as The Progress 1000 list of London’s most influential people in the Evening Standard
  • Alongside 7 members of our DevelopHer team all starting new jobs and changing career paths!

The success stories we’ve also heard from our community during our events have also been overwhelming, and whilst our subject topics during our events focus on overcoming challenges and improving ourselves – we think it’s important we also celebrate how well we’re all doing and the great things we’re all achieving. So on behalf of DevelopHer – you truly rock!

bedfordarms

  1. Re-focus

During our time, we also had a strategy session led by Rachelle Denton (Senior Creative Strategist Consultant at BBC) and Laura Colin (Strategy Lead at BBC) to guide us on how we think about 2018, our current aspirations and how we continue to elevate women in tech. We loved the way Rachelle & Laura thought and challenged us, and this session was invaluable, as we left feeling invigorated for what’s yet to come!

It was clear that there were key focus areas that we want to continue providing our community for next year, including:

  1. A 360 degree support network for women in technology for their careers
  2. Being part of the solution to change the inequality gap
  3. Enabling a community where members can provide each other a hand up

At DevelopHer, we’re full of energy and ambition for 2018, and while we continue to work on exciting opportunities to share with you guys, we would LOVE to hear from you on how we can help support your career path. So if we can ask for one thing, please do share with us your thoughts, ideas and feedback on how DevelopHer as a community can help you to continue progressing next year by emailing hello@developher.org.

If there is something we can take away from this weekend, it’s to be kind to yourself – give yourself time to breathe -and also make sure you celebrate each other successes.

We look forward to hearing your ideas, and can’t wait for 2018 – let’s bring it on!

DevelopHer’s Thoughts: The Googler’s Anti-Diversity Memo

As we reflect on how a Google employee’s memo caused up a stir in the tech world, it had the whole DevelopHer team talking. A software engineer at Google’s Mountain View’s campus claimed that biological differences between men and women were responsible for gender gap in technology. He criticised Google’s efforts on inclusivity and proposed suggestions on how to integrate women into software engineering better.

Since major media companies reported the manifesto going viral a lot has happened: Danielle Brown, Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance publicly responded to it, reaffirming her belief in the company’s strategy for diversity. Many people have expressed their opinions about the issue, including female and male software engineers. DevelopHer also contributed to the BBC Newsbeats’ piece. It took several days for Sundar Pichari, Google’s CEO to release a statement confirming that the article’s author had been fired.

The DevelopHer Team wanted to share their opinions on the article and the events that followed.

Mai:

Cloaking harmful statements with ‘on average’ and ‘this may imply’ does not make them scientific or acceptable. Many ideas expressed in the piece are largely based on conclusions of evolutionary psychology – a field that is often criticized for ignoring cultural context and leaping to conclusions with inadequate evidence, and previously used to justify claims that certain groups of people are inherently more intelligent than others. While humans have always used ‘science’ to explain why groups of people are better than others, science has studied these differences extensively and they are not biological, but mostly cultural.

Statements such as saying that women, on average, have more ‘Neuroticism’ are harmful as women could, as a very simple real life scenario, be given easier technical projects in their workplace which could harm their career progression as a result. It also ignores the fact that these are likely to be symptoms of our patriarchal society rather than the causes.

If all he was saying was simply that there are differences between the sexes then that would be fine, as the point of gender equality is to fix some of the points he raised such as the male gender role being so inflexible. However, we can see that he is in fact only framing points to support his view. Saying that women on average have a ‘stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men’ could actually be an argument for why more women should hold senior software engineering jobs that involve managing teams.

However, I also do think that Google should have offered a more public rebuttal of Mr Damore’s argument rather than dismiss him in the way that they did. For such an innovative company, they could have done even better and used it as a bigger opportunity to facilitate political discourse and counter being called an ‘ideological echo chamber’.

Martyna:

martyna

The article reads like it’s a mostly logical argument made by a reasonable and opinionated person. I feel like the author admits gender gap in tech is a problem. He seems to understand it’s an issue we can all tackle by discussing it honestly and openly, and by including men in the dialogue. And it’s great that he’s speaking up about it. Yet, it feels like there’s something wrong and dodgy about it which makes me very uneasy – because it’s all rooted in the wrong assumptions.

Gender gap is a result of social, NOT biological differences. He seems to have based his “science” on his own, shallow perception having forgotten that human brains (irrespective of gender) are capable of learning. Both hard and soft skills if we work on it. The problem, however, is that women are very often deprived of the opportunity to even learn and accept that career as a software engineer is an option. We are socialised into wanting a “feminine” job, because that’s what the society thinks we should do. Those differences he says are natural are in fact a result of the way we are brought up and exposed to the modern world.

I do, however, agree with the author that we need to be able to talk openly and honestly about gender gap, and not exclude men from the conversation. That’s why I was a bit disappointed he was fired so quickly. I would have liked a dialogue to start – an exchange of facts and opinions to educate people. I feel like he wasn’t given the chance to learn more and change his judgement. Instead, he’s been left angry and jobless. And it all got a little ugly.

Share your thoughts about the memo and the events that followed!
Let @DevelopHerUK know on Twitter or Facebook .

Changing Careers & How to Get a Head Start

Changing careers is always hard, whether you’re thinking about breaking into or across tech. But communities like DevelopHer are here to support you through this change, and can give you the opportunity to meet people and make new connections at our events.

For those of you who are just starting to think about making a move, we’ve asked a few inspirational women from our DevelopHer community to give us their best piece of advice for a career change. We’ve weaved their wisdom into a few common threads to share with you.

One of our DevelopHer mentors, Denise Jones, Technical Product Manager at Expedia.com/Hotels.com, began her journey by realizing that she needed new challenges, then noting down what about her job she liked, what she didn’t, and what she’d like to do instead.  Sometimes all it takes to start a new career is wanting a new challenge. We think that’s a great place to start, alongside these top tips below:

1.) Prioritise the career change

Kristina Dimitrova, founder of INTERLACED, tells us to get our priorities right and work hard for the things we really want. It’s not all safe sailing but it’s worth it. Knowing the move you want to make is the important first step to focusing your career change.

If this is something you really want to do, make the conscious effort to dedicate [yourself] to making the career change.
– Julia Mitchelmore, Software Engineer at Founders Factory

2.) Talk to people

Surround yourself with the right crowd.

Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars, tells us that it’s best to spend time talking to other people who have made significant changes, and to ignore those who are limited in their thinking or making us feel stuck on one identity or skillset.

Julia Mitchelmore, Software Engineer at Founders Factory, reinforces this message and suggests going to meetups, attending events, speaking to people in the industry and asking them to show you their work and take you through their day-to-day process.

If you’re jumping out to do something on your own then Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Media Partnerships at Mediacom, advises you to choose your partners and team carefully and to find people you can trust. The people you surround yourself with should question you, challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone for all the right reasons.

Remember to ask the hard questions and learn from people’s mistakes!

Speak to anyone who is passionate about their career. Ask them how they deal with setbacks.
Roslyn Scott, Founder & CEO of MobiCycle Ltd

3.) Be resourceful

We live in a digital age where knowledge can often be found as long as you know where to look.

Julia from Founders Factory advises us to read blog posts, articles and any material that we can get our hands on. Then take an online ‘Intro To’ course on a site like UDemy or Coursera. If you want to move into a programming role, start writing your own code, ask questions on Stack Overflow and learn through doing.

Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars reminds us that it’s key to start going to relevant industry events or meetups, soak up insights, teach ourselves lessons on YouTube/Wikipedia/online, and to stay confident.

We agree that confidence is key and the more you learn the more confident you’ll be, so don’t let the journey ahead deter you!

4.) Reframe your story

No previous experience should be wasted as there will always be some transferrable skills that you can bring over from your current job into your desired one.

Figure out how to tell your story in a way that somehow makes sense for the next thing you want to do – whether it’s re-framing the work you’ve done, focusing on lessons you’ve learned in different past positions, or conveying what sparked the new direction.
Jess Williamson, Director at Techstars

5.) Gain experience

Sharon Anne Kean, Product Director at Bloom & Wild, advises us to get some experience in the area we want to move into, and be prepared to volunteer at first. Do whatever it takes to get actual experience as this is pretty much always what potential employers will be looking for when you interview for your next role. Be humble and mindful when taking a step back – it may mean taking on responsibilities that you feel are trivial or beneath you, but applying your experience to making a success of this will help you learn fast and accelerate in your new career.

A final word of advise from Roslyn, CEO of MobiCycle is that we may want to change careers not because there is anything wrong with the industry, but because of the people within it.

 “If that is the case, you may benefit from working in your industry in a role that introduces you to people with different work habits.”

So remember, prioritise the career change, go talk to people, be resourceful, reframe your story, and get that experience out of the way! It may seem like a hard road ahead, but we’re here with you every step of the way and wish you the best of luck!

If you’re interested in networking at our future events, so you can get a head start, keep an eye out on our event page.

Written by Mai Vo

Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy

“We all live some version of Option B, so we should make the most of it”

On the 24th June, a few of the team members from DevelopHer attended an Intelligence Squared panel event featuring Sheryl Sandberg, CCO at Facebook, Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani Activist for Female Education and Founder of Malala Fund and Adam Grant, American Author and Professor at University of Pennsylvania. The event theme was based around discussing ideas from Sheryl’s new book Option B and addressing how we can better face adversity, build resilience and find joy.

The panel explored the idea that everyone experiences some form of ‘Option B’. Whether it be experiencing loss of a loved one, loss of a job or changes to our health. However, rather than questioning whether or why these things happen, the discussions focused on how we face them when they do happen. Loss, pain and even stress can be a sensitive and somewhat silent topic at the workplace. However, we learnt there are open and expressive ways to cope with this.

malala

In 2015, Sheryl’s husband, Dave Goldberg, suddenly died at the age of 47. Sheryl and her two young children were naturally devastated and this was still apparent when she explained this story at the event. When Sheryl was talking with a friend about the “first father-child activity without a father” they discussed a plan for someone to fill in. However, Sheryl stated “but I want Dave”. This is when her friend embraced her and said “option A is not available. So let’s just kick the sh** out of option B”.

From Sheryl’s devastating happenings, both her and Adam Grant worked on her latest book to explore the idea of coping with adversity, studying stories from different people, including Malala Yousafzai, who have recovered from hardship, both personally and professionally. “These people did more than recover, many of them became stronger”.

We’ve included our key learnings from the event:

How to help those dealing with adversity:

  • Show that you are there for them
    “Sometimes we are too scared to do the wrong thing, so we don’t do anything. Sometimes just showing up and being there is enough” (Sheryl)Helping those dealing with adversity is not easy. We are inclined to be respectful and sincerely acknowledge their loss by saying “Sorry for your loss. Let me know how I can help”. Sheryl points out that sometimes actions are louder than words. Being there in person, or face to face for someone who is dealing with loss, even if they say they don’t want you there, can mean a lot more than sending a message.

    “We have a social responsibility to be there (…) be with people, to sometimes cry with them. In our culture this is important for all communities.” (Malala)

  • Encourage to talk about it
    “Sometimes the times we need people to talk the most, are the times we speak the least.” (Sheryl)
    This speaks for itself, people experience harder pain when dealing with it by themselves. Opening and encouraging those to talk out it, even if it is difficult can in fact be more reassuring than not mentioning it at all.

Discover small ways to find hope:

  • Write down 3 moments of joy at the end of the day
    “Joy is something we have to take for granted and we can’t just celebrate the big stuff. It’s the little things we celebrate in our lives. So I write down 3 moments of joy at the end of every day. Prior to this I use to worry about the things that had or would go wrong. By doing this becomes my focus. I think this has changed my life.” 
  • Accepting the situation and being positive for the future
    “It’s good to be hopeful and positive. If you are hopeless you waste your present and your future” (Malala)
    After Malala regained her speech and memory after her attack, she told herself and now others, that know whatever situation you are in, no matter how hard it is, you must believe things will get better. Malala emphasized that we have to accept we have stressful times, whether big or small, and we will get through it.

We know personally and professionally, there’s a lot going on in our lives. It’s the small steps in finding hope and being positive, that can help us grow as individuals and be stronger in the future. If you have any interesting topics that you would like to see DevelopHer address for future events and help us grow as individuals, please let us know hello@developher.org

Written by Sarah Rench and Laura Chung

5 Actionable Tips For Effective Networking

Networking can be a very powerful facilitator of career progression, but how do we know whether we are networking resourcefully?

To help our community learn more about the best networking methods, we recently held a breakfast panel discussion in June around “How to network effectively,” sponsored by Moo and Sprinklr. Two of our board members were joined by two industry heavyweights who have many years of seasoned networking experience und their belt. On the panel (from left to right):

  • Eniko Tarkany-Szucs, DevelopHer board member and Solutions Consultant at Sprinklr
  • Sophie Dermaux, DevelopHer board member and Senior Account Executive at Hotwire PR, who was chairing this discussion
  • Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Partnerships at Mediacom
  • Kata Bleyer, a digital leader with a background at Coca-Cola and AllSaints

We were reminded that networking isn’t just about getting to know new people – it’s also about benefitting from existing connections, co-workers and hobbies. Below we’ve outlined five actionable networking tips that emerged from the discussion.
breakfast1

  1. Have a game plan

This applies to attending networking events. Kata Bleyer recommended: “Be prepared. Do your homework and think of some talking points beforehand.“

Prior to the event: Read the attendee list and identify interesting people. Then check out their LinkedIn profiles to see what their interests might be. Use this information to plan some conversation points.

At the event: When it comes to approaching a person that you have planned to speak to, Eniko Tarkany-Szucs advised that you shouldn’t be worried about coming off as overbearing. Simply walk over and start talking to them. After all, “Everyone has the same struggles. Making the first step to talk to someone feels intimidating, but is easier once you actually do it.”

After the event: Kata mentioned that she swears by her ‘little black book’, which she uses to remember people she has met. Keep track of whom you’ve met, along with a line or two about what was interesting about them, and follow up after the event.

  1. Use LinkedIn as your personal website

Our panellists all agreed that LinkedIn is a great tool for networking. Hannah Mirza pointed out that you should leverage LinkedIn regardless of whether you are looking for a new job or not: “Don’t just use [LinkedIn] as a CV – use it as your own personal website.” Our panellists’ main tips:

  • Make sure all of your information is always up-to-date.
  • Write articles about topics for which you have specialised knowledge or passionate opinions.
  • Delete rewards that you earned a long time ago, if you haven’t received any new ones since – no one will be interested in rewards from ten years ago, for instance.
  1. Mingle with your co-workers

The relationships you have with co-workers can have a significant impact on your career. To really benefit, you need to do more than just get to know people in your immediate team. Hannah Mirza noted, “You can only get so far if you focus on your immediate sphere. Go out and talk to people in other departments.”

Knowing what people in other departments do, and being able to ask them for help, can go a long way. So-called informal networks form when people from different parts of an organisation connect, and research has found that these networks can have an extensive impact on performance and innovation.

Hannah shared an example of a colleague of hers, who set out to network across the business as soon as she started her new job. This helped her settle in quicker and be promoted faster.

How can you get to know other people in your company better? Hannah’s tip was to simply approach people you haven’t met yet, and ask them if they’d like to grab lunch with you. If they can’t do lunch on that day, just put a date in the diary for another day.

  1. Get active

Our panellists pointed out that networking doesn’t just happen at networking events or in the office. Many work discussions also take place outside of work, and being part of those conversations can be very beneficial.

Find a hobby that you enjoy, and which you can do together with colleagues or at which you can meet other relevant people. Often, these can be sporting events. Kata Bleyer’s hobby is cycling, and she shared with us that attending cycling events has been great for networking.

  1. Nurture existing relationships

So you’ve made lots of great connections through work and through your networking efforts – don’t forget to nurture them. One piece of advice that came out of our discussion was to look back every few months and get in touch with people whom you haven’t seen in a while. A quick catch-up coffee is a great way to nurture a relationship and to find out what your network is up to.

We’d like to thank everyone who attended the event and our generous sponsors Moo and Sprinklr. If you missed this event and would like to come along to our next events, sign up to our newsletter and we’ll keep you in the loop.

If you’d like to speak at one of our next events, please sign up to our speakers list.

Written by Anna Abrell