281 – ðŸ’ŧ Empowering Women in Tech with Arit Amana

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In this episode, we get to speak with Arit Amana: Software Engineer, Founder, Writer, Mentor, and Conference Speaker. We discuss Arit’s day-to-day as a Software Engineer and her career journey. We also dive into Arit’s organization OurTimeForTech.org, a nonprofit online program that empowers early-career & career-changing Women in Tech!

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Frederick Weiss: [00:00:00] I am Frederick Philip von Weiss. Thank you for consuming the Thunder Nerds, a conversation with the people behind the technology that love what they do, and do tech good. Let’s go ahead and get to our guests. We have a super special guest today. I’m really excited to have her. We have  Software Engineer, founder, writer, mentor, conference speaker, Arit Amana.

[00:01:14] Welcome to the show.

[00:01:16] Arit Amana: [00:01:16] Thank you so much. Frederick. That was great. You, I think you’ve covered it all. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:23] Frederick Weiss: [00:01:23] I try it’s a lot right at the beginning, but anyway, thank you so much for spending a Saturday with us. I know Saturday morning is not the easiest thing to negotiate with a family and everything going on.

[00:01:36] Everybody’s yeah, it’s Saturday. And then Oh wait, I gotta do this thing. So thank you so much. How’s your Saturday morning going by the way.

[00:01:44] Arit Amana: [00:01:44] It’s going really good. The weather is beautiful. And yeah, I’m excited to be here. I’ve been looking forward to it. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:52] Frederick Weiss: [00:01:52] Yeah, our pleasure. Absolutely. Hey, yo, let me ask you something topical. We got this really great notification, if you will, from Joe Biden’s this week. So excited, no masks for vaccinated people. What do you think? And do you have your vaccine? Are you willing to go out in public without the mask?

[00:02:14] Are you, do you

[00:02:15] Arit Amana: [00:02:15] feel safe? That’s a good question. So I am fully vaccinated, so I’ve gotten the two shots. But on the other hand it’s weird, right? Like I think, I’ve grown accustomed to wearing to be honest. And I think where I’m coming from will be just. And out of an abundance of caution, I think I’m still gonna wear my mask.

[00:02:40] Not so much necessarily for me, but just to still send that message that I care about my community. I care about maybe people who haven’t been vaccinated and are still at risk. I’m comfortable with that. I don’t necessarily feel like I need to start wearing my mask. Some kind of indication that it’s over or we’re getting through it.

[00:03:05] At the end of the day we have different types of people with different sensibilities. And I don’t know, I, it’s not a big deal for me, so I’m fully vaccinated, but I will keep wearing my mask probably for the foreseeable future.

[00:03:18] Frederick Weiss: [00:03:18] Yeah. Yeah. I might do the same thing. I’m, just, I’m slightly cautious.

[00:03:23] I got a little bit of trepidation. I also have my I’m fully vaccinated on just no one. I see the science out there, but I don’t know If I go out, is there any way for me to, bring it home to for my son’s only six he’s not, in that 12 and up, so a space to get the Pfizer.

[00:03:42] So I’m just a little scared, but I want to see what happens. A month, two months from now. And at that point, that’s when I’m going to go. Okay. I’ll take the mask

[00:03:51] Arit Amana: [00:03:51] off. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think for me, it’s just giving it a little longer runway. I think for me, good with let’s see what it looks like in the fall.

[00:04:02] Like I think for me, that’s my mindset, let the fall come around and let’s see where we’re at, but no rush necessarily to quote unquote, go massless. Yeah.

[00:04:13] Frederick Weiss: [00:04:13] Yeah, I totally agree with that. I’m just a little, I’m just still a little scared and we’ll see what happens then.

[00:04:19] And at that point I’ll be very excited. I’m optimistic by the end of the year. We’ll see times square filled up again and everybody’s going to be good, but that will be

[00:04:28] Arit Amana: [00:04:28] nice. Yeah,

[00:04:31] Frederick Weiss: [00:04:31] Everything crossed. Yeah.

[00:04:33] Arit Amana: [00:04:33] I think we will. Yeah.

[00:04:36] Frederick Weiss: [00:04:36] Yeah. Exactly. Hey let’s, talk about, first of all, we’ll do a little bit of a communicating presence and go backwards a little bit.

[00:04:45] Let’s talk about what you do. You are currently a Software Engineer for a forum. I imagine I’m saying that, right? So forum, I assume the technology is exactly what I think it is. Do you mind communicating one, what exactly the forum is? And then two what you do

[00:05:04] Arit Amana: [00:05:04] at forum? Yes. So forum is an open source company.

[00:05:10] And what that means is our code is completely a hundred percent open source. And so there’s no obesity when it comes to what we’re building and how we’re building it. And we have just a very vibrant, supportive open-source community around what we do. And as far as our product, we are building software too.

[00:05:31] How are online communities that value data privacy and basically just empowering creators online to connect with people and to lead respectful communities that value that data privacy. So that’s what we do in a nutshell. And so as an engineer at forum, my day-to-day consists mostly.

[00:05:58] So one of the, one of the tools in our store software are our moderation tools and administrative administration and moderation tools. And so that’s typically where I do most of my work. And so right now we’re building out a more UX centered. Admin experience in the backend and also beefing up our moderation tools and that empowers the administrators of these communities to keep their community safe and supportive.

[00:06:28] Yeah. So that’s day-to-day what I do.

[00:06:31] Frederick Weiss: [00:06:31] But now, when you say communities, is the audience pretty much anybody like hypothetically? I could pull up a scenario, but I dunno if that’s gonna work, but I own a pizza shop and I want to open up a community to have, Hey on Friday nights we have pizza.

[00:06:48] Bingo. That’s a great example, but let’s roll with a pizza. Bingo. The little bingo pieces or pepperoni. I want to start a forum. I want to get people involved. I want to have a community. Is this for me? Or is this for small? Is it for small businesses? Is what I’m getting at a medium, not enterprise.

[00:07:07] Arit Amana: [00:07:07] Excellent question. So we actually are going to have two offerings, so we have, yes. So we have, I have the self hosted option and that’s for literally anyone. Now we’re rolling that out slowly. So it’s I could maybe say we’re in a pre beta phase right now, but the end goal is to have anyone literally able to spin up a forum, for their community needs and self hosted. And so that’s one option and then we have the more enterprise offering. And so that’s where we’re going to offer more enterprise level solutions for that level of company or that level of business. Yeah. But we are really excited about literally getting this into the hands of anyone that wants to have a forum for their community or their needs.

[00:07:57] And have it be self hosted. We are going to make it very modular. And so you can have the bare bones forum, or you can have these modules, you can have a chat component, you can have maybe a listings component and we’re monitoring like modularizing a lot of the functionality. And so you can build your custom forum, basically.

[00:08:18] Frederick Weiss: [00:08:18] Oh, I love that. That’s so cool. All right. Yeah we’ll put some links in the show notes for everybody to check it out. It sounds like an amazing tool. We’re very interested and by the way, if you’re watching a go ahead and live chat with us, we’ll put your questions up and we’ll answer them right on the show.

[00:08:34] So yeah. Let’s talk about your career journey. You didn’t start off as a Software Engineer. You started off in a little bit of a different path, but it seems that it does make sense along the way. Just like all of us, a lot of us are second career devs. For me, I went to school for graphic design and photography and was making flyers for my band, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:08:56] And it just blossomed. And it went down that path. I know for you, at a young age you were introduced to technology. Your father was an engineer. Am I right? So you always had technology

[00:09:08] Arit Amana: [00:09:08] in the house. Exactly. Yes, my father was a sales engineer and so he always had access to the latest tech, right?

[00:09:15] Like part of his job was outfitting companies, banks and the like with technology, computers, printing, like literally the whole nine. And so he, always, we had I’m dating myself here, but we had the desktop computers and the video game console.

[00:09:37] Soles and the printers and we were always surrounded with technology. And so I, at a very early age, gained an appreciation for the power of technology to make life easier or to make life better. Yeah. So I’ve always been surrounded by technology, but as a young girl, I wanted to be a doctor.

[00:09:59] And so that was yeah. That was my MD for all my Teddy bears and my dolls and things like that. Yeah. So on the science track and. I did. Yes. Duke is my Alma mater. Yeah, my bachelor’s. Yeah. And

[00:10:18] Frederick Weiss: [00:10:18] So, you were going there for biology, is

[00:10:21] Arit Amana: [00:10:21] that right? Yes. So I was a pre-med major.

[00:10:25] And for the most part, most of my life science came easy to me yet. I talk about this a lot. Like my schoolwork came easy to me for the most part. Until I got to college more specifically my third year I had delayed declaring a major. And so by the time I was in my junior year, I had all these pre-reqs for pre-med that I had to complete.

[00:10:48] And so I’m taking all the Oracle and the microbiology and the physical chemistry, like everything just in one semester. And so of course I couldn’t Excel in all of them. And instead of me, and I, say this because a lot of times we think that. Things maybe are always inevitable, but I’m very clear to say that even though my path ended up the way it was, I see where I made mistakes.

[00:11:21] And so that was one of my early earliest mistakes. Career-wise was assuming that just because I had a hard semester medicine wasn’t for me. And that was the wrong conclusion. And I’m very clear about that. Yeah. And so that was how I chose to interpret that really difficult year, really my junior year.

[00:11:39] And so I took it to me and, Oh, I don’t have what it takes to become a doctor, which wasn’t true. I could have just. Repeated a semester or graduated in five years as opposed to four. But that was the conclusion that I made. And so for me that was like, okay, I’m not going to do that. So that’s when I pivoted into public health.

[00:11:57] Cause I figured it’s still healthy, not as intense as medicine. I don’t get to feel like I’ve wasted all my education. So that’s what made me pivot into public health. Yeah.

[00:12:08] Frederick Weiss: [00:12:08] That’s interesting. I think there’s a really good lesson that I’d like to highlight here that we could talk to people about what you brought up, which is don’t just because things are hard doesn’t mean that you should give up on them.

[00:12:22] You could still make it through a lot of the things, what is it? The old adage or whatever is anything that’s. Worth It is going to be difficult. Obviously I’m not articulating that correctly but, you get the vibe it’s you got to put in the hard work and you’ll get really the more hard work you put in the greater the reward.

[00:12:43] So you, could have finished that in a degree in three years, you could have had a giant turnaround,

[00:12:49] Arit Amana: [00:12:49] right? Go ahead. No, please. It was my youth I was naive and I was arrogant as well. There’s an arrogance that you have when you’re younger than I think you begin to shed when you get older.

[00:13:04] No, it’s the reality. I think I was, I felt like I had this all or nothing mentality, and so I think it was a casualty of being as young as I was. And I recognize that now, when I say it now, just to help others out there. You’re exactly right. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not for you or you still can’t put in the effort and get there.

[00:13:26] Yeah. It’s,

[00:13:27] Frederick Weiss: [00:13:27] amazing how we trust each year olds with the career path. Of somebody that is in their 60 seventies. Like it, it was us at 18 that made a lot of these life decisions that kind of worked in all these different directions. And it’s, that’s why it’s so important as a young person to get mentors or to be part of a.

[00:13:54] Some kind of a mentorship relationship, you’re getting that input or a mastermind of some type of community. So you can have a soundboard to bounce

[00:14:04] Arit Amana: [00:14:04] things. Yes, absolutely. You’re exactly right. Yeah.

[00:14:08] Frederick Weiss: [00:14:08] So, then you went and you were a health analyst. Am

[00:14:11] Arit Amana: [00:14:11] I’m saying that right? Okay. Yes.

[00:14:12] So I got my master’s in public health and I worked as a public health analyst. And typically what I did for that job was just generate evidence-based reports. We were a contract company and we had contracts with different government and nonprofit agencies. And so if they want it. I’d say maybe for example, I’m just giving an example, the department of transportation, they wanted to make some policy changes around truckers with diabetes, just as an example.

[00:14:43] So we would scour the literature, the scientific literature, and come up with the evidence either to support that proposed policy change or refute it. So in general, that’s what my job was. Yeah.

[00:14:58] Frederick Weiss: [00:14:58] Wow. Okay. Yeah. So you’re still doing like, you said, you’re still in the health industry you’re, using the education that you obtained and you’re going down that path.

[00:15:08] And then there was I dunno if there was a pivot, but maybe there was a corner, the, something to do with the company where they were they, let you go. And then you started doing WordPress sites for friends and small businesses.

[00:15:22] Arit Amana: [00:15:22] Exactly. So around that time, yes. So the company let me go.

[00:15:25] And I had just had my son. Son, my son was one plus and I had gotten into WordPress back in college, but it was really just a hobby. It was just to have blogs and the clubs that I belong to in college, I would create simple, either blogs for them, or like just a single one just to have a presence on the web.

[00:15:46] And that was something that I. Still dead on the side as I was a public health analyst. And so when I lost that job I was getting to the point where people started to know what I was doing, and then they would ask me, Oh, can you do this simple site? Like I had a friend who was a photographer and he was like, Oh, it would be nice to feature my work online.

[00:16:08] Can you help me with that? And I had other friends who started asking me to build an online presence for them. And at first it was. It was like, Oh, you can pay me whatever you want. Or like it was very informal, but then it started, I started realizing that I could actually do this and make a pretty coin.

[00:16:29] And it dovetailed quite nicely with also my desire to be home with my son. So that was a hard part for me. Like during the first year of his life balancing a full-time job and being a new mother, I really felt like I wanted to be there more consistently for my son. And so doing the WordPress thing, I could do that from home.

[00:16:50] So that was my first taste of work from home. In a sense. And so everything worked out. And then my partner at the time he was taking care of quote unquote, the big bills. And then I was generating some income from my WordPress hustle and then I was there for my son.

[00:17:07] So it was a win-win. Yeah.

[00:17:09] Frederick Weiss: [00:17:09] It’s super important to, have that, time at home with, your kids when they’re, when you’re that young. It’s, I know a lot of people do the daycare because they have to, and we certainly did some of that a little bit as well. And if you can, if you can’t there’s all kinds of financial things that we could do or not do.

[00:17:33] But yeah, if you can and you have that opportunity, that’s amazing. It’s great for the kids. Child, development. But so from that point, you, you, started coming into roadblocks to say that which, most of us do when we start learning about this technology we’re, building these WordPress websites and then we go, how do I change this?

[00:17:54] How do I choose that? That the clients are coming to me. I don’t, I might not know HTML, CSS, JavaScript like, the three basics. And then on top of that, you have all these theming things where you started using a server language PHP. So you’re having to make a change in a lot of people at that point, stop, they go, you know what?

[00:18:15] Th. This is too much for me. I can’t make it. I’m going to do something else or they just keep, continue to do what they were originally doing. You took the initiative and you went forward. So what did that look like for you? And, how did you actually one find the time to implement what you were learning and move ahead?

[00:18:37] Arit Amana: [00:18:37] Yeah. So for me, the passion to keep going, or to move ahead, as you said, came from. I loved empowering the businesses, whether it was a solo entrepreneur or like a small business, or like a small offer. I’m like, whatever it was, the payoff for me was empowering their business processes. So I remember one of my earliest clients, she was a massage therapist and she had a mobile massage therapy business and she was doing the paper and pen thing.

[00:19:08] Literally like she had a date book and it was paper and pen and everything was quite, I guess you could say analog And so just because of the lack of a system and no leveraging of technology, she had a lot of potential clients falling through the cracks. And so she had the interest, but she couldn’t translate them to clientele.

[00:19:29] And so she was leaving a lot of money on the table. And so I was able to set up one with a website. A booking form of payment processing solution. I took her contract online and so she wasn’t chasing people with printed out copies and getting them to sign it. And literally, she’ll tell you this within a couple of weeks, her clientele tripled and she didn’t feel the strain of it.

[00:19:54] It was just she wasn’t, they weren’t falling through the cracks. And so that’s just an example of how I was empowering people and empowering businesses. And so that was it for me. I didn’t want to give that up. And so for me, it wasn’t an option of, Oh, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing or I’m going to stop this.

[00:20:10] It was, I see the value of what I’m doing. The money is good, but I see the value of what I’m doing. And so how can I get better at what I do? And like you said I got to the point where plugins were beginning to be duplicate like plugins. This plugin does ABC, but what I need is AC like it got to the point where the sites were getting bloated.

[00:20:34] And I. Couldn’t find those perfect combos of plugins and themes to do what my clients needed. And that’s when I felt like if I knew how to code, I could probably either build this or I could tweak it in the plugin and get the plugin, like I could do something. So that was where I decided. Okay. It’s probably time to get into the code and.

[00:20:59] And see how this works under the hood.

[00:21:01] Frederick Weiss: [00:21:01] Yeah. Now you, use one of these code camps, and one of these boot camps to, to get you, to help, get your career going. And in one of the videos I watched, it sounded like you were taking care of your baby and you were working though.

[00:21:18] Like you, you would go from seven to 11 at night. That was your time to start learning. Yeah. That’s yeah, I, can you just tell us a little bit about that journey and what that was like? Because for me, I I, understand I’m a father. I have a child. I know it’s hard to find the time just to do anything, but like at that young of age with a baby and trying to learn.

[00:21:44] Whoo. So yeah. Love to hear some of your insights on that.

[00:21:48] Arit Amana: [00:21:48] Absolutely. The process that I took, I first. I used free resources online which were great. But I think at this time I had my daughter, so my son’s older now and I have my infant daughter and I think. Any mother will tell you any new mother, just the frazzle your mental state is frazzled, you’re sleep deprived.

[00:22:10] And so even though the free resources were great, I didn’t feel like I was making progress. I felt like I needed more structure and I needed a community. I needed people to check off. On me and like people to check in with and get the sense that I’m, making progress and I’m working towards something.

[00:22:28] And so that’s when I looked into boot camps. And so I took a couple of free mini bootcamps from different companies before deciding on them. Bootcamp that I chose. And so the bootcamp that I chose, the firehose project they’ve since been acquired. But what I liked about the firehose project was first of all, they were one of the cheapest that I found at $6,000.

[00:22:48] And so they didn’t have this IAS. I S a thing, which is like all the rage. Now you either paid upfront or you got a traditional loan. And so what I did was I got a traditional loan. And then another thing I liked about them was all the content was already loaded into the website. By, and it was like a drip format.

[00:23:06] And so you complete a module and module two opens up and you complete that as the next module. And that was important to me because I didn’t want to, I turned down the boot camps that were cohort based. And like you were learning within you. Going along with someone because I was afraid that what if I fall behind?

[00:23:24] What if at mybaby’s teasing and I’m not sleeping, and so I wanted a 100% self paced solution that I could control. So I can go fast if I can, and I can slow down if I need to. So that was another reason. And the whole seven to 10 thing. So my daughter, she didn’t, she wasn’t like, my son was a really good napper.

[00:23:48] He would not for three hours straight, but my daughter was more active. And so she was pretty active during the day. And I could never find A real pocket of time to either take my lessons or code or work on my assignments. And so what I did was I said, okay, she’s not going to go down during the day.

[00:24:07] I’m going to sleep, train her. So I know she sleeps well during the night. And so her bedtime was six 30 and I slept to train her. So she would sleep from six 30 till about 11. And so then I could, my son was older and the part owner could handle my son. And so what I did was I then designated 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM every single day for deep focus work, because I knew she’d be sleeping.

[00:24:33] She’s not going to stir. My son was with his dad and so I could, so I felt better during the day, not really doing anything and just being there with my daughter, because I knew it would come in the evening. I would have this uninterrupted time to really go hard and deep focus work. Yeah. So that was my schedule.

[00:24:51] 24 seven. Seven days a week, basically.

[00:24:55] Frederick Weiss: [00:24:55] Yeah. It’s really difficult for people to find the time. And like you said you did the sleep training. You had a set time and I in life happens too. I’m sure there were multiple times where she woke up early or didn’t go to sleep at the right time, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:25:13] You just have to roll with it. And a lot of these. Life happens. And a lot of these bootcamps they’re very much like you have to be there, it’s an 80 hour thing day or week it’s, crazy. You do come out on the other side, et cetera, et cetera with, all this opportunity, but.

[00:25:35] On the same token, that’s not for everybody and not everybody could listen to somebody constantly teaching or, originally taking in and they need to sit down and read it. I know for my wife, she needs to sit down and read stuff. She can’t be, she doesn’t learn from a teacher. She learns by going through the book and reading the book.

[00:25:53] So everybody’s different in that way, right? Yeah.

[00:25:56] Arit Amana: [00:25:56] Yeah. I think so. I think, go ahead. No, please. Yeah, I think the more diversity we see, even in bootcamp tech, boot camp education, the better it will be for everyone. You’re exactly right. Like that option was just not available to me. Like really nine, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

[00:26:14] Like throughout the day. It just wasn’t an option for me. And I’m really grateful that I had the bootcamp that I found. I really, I don’t think I would be where I am if I didn’t have that option of being totally self-paced. Yeah. Option for myself and just going at my pace, unlocking the lessons as I went along we also had we’re also assigned a mentor that we met with for an hour a week and extremely instrumental.

[00:26:42] I’m still in touch with Jeremy today. Shout out Jeremy. He was instrumental in really helping me believe that I could be an engineer. Yeah. I always credit him with that. Yeah.

[00:26:57] Frederick Weiss: [00:26:57] I love that. So what would be your experience after you completed this course? From my understanding, it took you about six months on the market trying to find a position.

[00:27:09] What, what, exactly was that like? And how did you land your first tech job?

[00:27:13] Arit Amana: [00:27:13] It was, I always call it the most demoralizing part of my journey because it really wasn’t that my bootcamp, they had a career prep course and not to take anything away, but I don’t think I was really prepped, even though I took the course.

[00:27:29] But I don’t think because you can’t, no one can really prepare you. I think, for the reality of looking for your first tech job, especially as a second career person in tech it was tough. I didn’t know I’m really into networking. And if I could do anything different, I would have started networking at the same time.

[00:27:52] I started bootcamp, but I never really networked at any point in, even in my previous careers. And so when I, no, I never did. I just, I never. Like you’re in college and everyone’s there with you and then you get your first job, but then you have your coworkers never networked. I never realized the value of networking until I got into tech.

[00:28:13] And even to find my first tech job, I had no network. I was just hitting up the job boards, like indeed.com monster. I just kept hitting up the job boards. And LinkedIn as well. And so woo. It was a lot, I applied to almost a hundred jobs and out of all those jobs, I got three on-site. And then one of them, actually, one of them rejected me and then five months later they had another role open up and they remembered me.

[00:28:39] And so they got in touch. That’s how I got my first tech job. Yes. My first tech job was with a company that rejected me the first time around, but I got to the final round. It was between me and one other person. And so they gave it to the other persons. I was rejected. Yeah. But five months later they had a similar role open up.

[00:28:57] And I think they remembered me from the last interview. And so they came back knocking and I will still love the job market. And so that’s when I got the job, but yeah.

[00:29:06] Frederick Weiss: [00:29:06] Nice. And I know one of the things that you cited was the worry of ageism. I Believe we’re the same age and when I was going through my career, I also felt that, and a lot of people feel that.

[00:29:20] I, I. I see that you wrote that you were, you completed this bootcamp and your late thirties, and you’re worried about applying to these companies like, a Facebook type of company that it’s, very they, have this image of all these young 20 somethings sipping mochaccinos while they’re.

[00:29:41] Running on their golf carts, exercising on the moon, all this goofy stuff that you’ve seen, like Silicon Valley, but like some of that stuff is a little bit real, but ageism is just something that’s. In our head, isn’t there an obstacle that we have to overcome or is it a real obstacle out there for people seeking real positions?

[00:30:03] Arit Amana: [00:30:03] I think it’s both. It’s definitely not just in our heads, but I think it’s more in the sense that if you look at age-ism as only something that the other people have to fix, I think you limit yourself. And so there is. There is a sense of doing everything that is in your power to progress in the field you’ve chosen, but we definitely also need to address ages of ageism on a more macro level.

[00:30:28] I know for me I wouldn’t say that I didn’t feel fear about age-ism cause I was, I graduated bootcamp. I think I was 38. 38, between 37 and 38. And I landed my first job at 38. I landed, I started my first job five days before my 38th birthday, actually. Yes it was a nice birthday present.

[00:30:54] But so I felt the disadvantage or I guess. I felt it, but I didn’t let myself feel it too deeply because in my mind I didn’t have that luxury. Like I felt what it was? You’ve spent all this money you’ve been through this process. Get a job. That’s why you did this.

[00:31:15] And so I think that was my mindset. I didn’t let myself really sink into the worries, the fears about, Oh, am I too old? Or I’m a black woman. I am older. Like I’m a mother. I didn’t, I felt it, but I didn’t allow myself permission to really see, because in my mind, I was like, you need to get a job, just get a job.

[00:31:43] And so I think that’s why I answered both. On the one hand, I don’t mean to dismiss the reality of ageism and other like barriers to diverse candidates out there. But I think on an individual level, there’s a real sense of you, just need to. Do what you need to do and forge ahead.

[00:32:06] Or else you, end up being limited, I think by these systems.

[00:32:12] Frederick Weiss: [00:32:12] Yeah. Yeah, a lot of times we have these things in our head, whether it’s imposter syndrome or we want people to tell us. That it’s okay for you to do that. I give you permission where no, one’s going to give us permission to do things or on the other side of the coin where we’re looking for people to tell us you can’t do that.

[00:32:30] Okay. I won’t do that, but that doesn’t happen. It all begins and starts with you and your heart, your head. Did you actually have any any experiences at all with age-ism or was it like you said, just you, you wondering am I not getting this position at all these places that I applied for it because I’m not

[00:32:50] Arit Amana: [00:32:50] 22.

[00:32:51] Yeah. How do you know? I think it’s a great question. Yeah. That’s the thing, like, how do I, did I have anyone flat out telling me, Oh, you’re too old? No. Then I have any communication to the effect of, or if you were younger like, how do you really know? I think even if, even when these things are in operation, they are covered in their pouch sometimes, really well.

[00:33:17] And so even if I felt. That way in my job hunt process, I didn’t really have any evidence. And then I always told myself, even if it’s true, does that mean you stop? I think that’s what it came down to for me. Even if it’s true, let’s say it’s true. Let’s say on paper, you look great, but then you have the zoom call and they’re like, Oh, okay.

[00:33:40] She let’s just say it’s true. Does that mean I stopped? Does that mean? I conclude it’s not for me. Yeah. That’s what I did when I was younger. When I struggled in my junior year. And so I had to come to a place where, okay, this place may not be for me, if that’s what’s going on, then I probably don’t want to work there anyway.

[00:34:01] But does that mean I don’t want to work? And so I think I just kept. Telling myself that this is a numbers game. So much of job hunting is a numbers game: put in the work, put in the numbers, learn what you can from previous failed interviews and just keep putting yourself out there. That’s what I just kept telling myself, right?

[00:34:23] Frederick Weiss: [00:34:23] Yeah. Yeah. It all goes back to just it. All a lot of these things can be in your head. Like you said, it’s how do you measure if it actually is true or not? And there’s so many companies, the world is a really big place. I know it seems small because technology brings us together, but there’s so many different companies that could work.

[00:34:45] Work with a partner to start your own. There are a lot of opportunities. There’s never a dead end. There’s always divorced all around You One of the things though, I

[00:34:59] Arit Amana: [00:34:59] please go ahead. No. I was going to say that I was going to say that I think fatigue also plays a role. So I think job hunting is very tiring and when everyone starts job hunting, assuming that within a couple of weeks they’ll land the job, that’s the dream.

[00:35:15] I applied for a position. I get it within a couple of weeks. I’m working. That’s everyone’s dream and it doesn’t always pan out that way. And a lot of times there’s a lot of fatigue.  and not to talk of imposter syndrome and just all the mental stuff that comes along with job hunting. A lot of times rejection can seem like an indictment on your ability.

[00:35:37] And I think that’s another thing I had to learn. Maybe I’m not, I don’t have the skill set for this particular job, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any skills. And I think those are the conclusions that we need to wrestle with in our own mind and decide. What am I going to interpret this rejection as, but job hunting is exhausting.

[00:35:57] And I think privilege comes into it, right? Like I had the privilege of a partner who was taking care of me. Majority bills. And so I didn’t have the added pressure of all my savings running out. Where am I gonna, how am I gonna pay my next? There’s a lot of pressure.

[00:36:18] I think that different people face. And yeah. On the one hand, like you have to keep going. It’s like the only way out is through. But I do have compassion for just different situations, different financial situations, different support situations. It’s a lot, it can be a lot.

[00:36:38] Yeah,

[00:36:40] Frederick Weiss: [00:36:40] absolutely. And one of the things that I heard on a podcast that you were on recently, a code newbie you, were talking about one of the things it’s, it could be age-ism but it’s, probably more of a parenting issue than young people or parents. I can’t, or don’t have the ability to understand what it’s like being a single parent.

[00:37:04] And what, goes into that? You were talking about some experiences you had, where, you know you, brought your daughter to daycare for the first time. And what some people don’t realize is that when your child gets sick, you have to go and get your child out of daycare. They don’t want sick kids getting all the other kids sick.

[00:37:24] So that’s when you have to go. Hey everybody, I gotta go. I gotta go get my daughter. Or Hey I, can’t be there for that weekend fun thing that you guys are doing as a team I do you mind speaking to a little bit about, that and how how you dealt with that experience?

[00:37:42] Arit Amana: [00:37:42] Absolutely. So this was my first tech job. It was not, I have to say it now because of our reality, but it was in-person right. So this isn’t a remote job. And it was an hour from my home one way. And my daughter’s daycare was really close to my home, so I would drop her off and then I would drive into work.

[00:38:03] And just like you said, Any child that starts daycare that first month they catch everything. They haven’t been exposed. And yeah, so my daughter was catching everything that just flew by. And just like you said, if your child is running a fever or they have a raging, snotty nose and coughing, they’re not going to keep the child in the daycare.

[00:38:26] So you have to come and get your child. And so with my company it was an onsite job. We were not. Even though we had times when the engineers would work remotely, we were not designed for remote work. And so I’m brand new. I’m a brand new developer, I’m a brand new employee. I’m still learning. And I just started working, so I don’t have any time.

[00:38:53] I don’t have any PTO saved, but my daughter’s sick and I need to work from home. And so it was very challenging. Just because our system wasn’t designed with remote first in mind, I was. Not intentionally, but just left out of a lot of things. I didn’t feel like it because I’m still building a connection with my teammates.

[00:39:14] So I didn’t feel that connection of having to work from home with my sick daughter. And then I’m also a new developer. And so I’m learning a lot of the technology is new to me, not just even the technology, but the systems and the The, the way that they did things, right? Like the conventions, that’s the word I’m looking for.

[00:39:33] A lot of the conventions were still very new to me, so it was really challenging. And, then just feeling the guilt as well. And that’s something that I’ve blogged about. And I talk about it sometimes as parents, when we have to be parents. While being professionals, we feel guilty. I would feel guilty for having to be home with my daughter who was sick.

[00:39:59] And so that was just mentally. That was a challenge as well. So just waiting through all of that. And then I was the only mother in the engineering department. I was the only parent on my team. I was the only woman on my particular team. And so the added layer of. Not really feeling like my teammates got it.

[00:40:16] It was rough. I have to say it was rough. I got through it. I tried to focus. I tried not to make conclusions that were not obvious, cause we do a lot of that where Oh this person called a meeting and didn’t remember I was remote. Oh, they must not want me there, always that opportunity to take things.

[00:40:41] Or than what it really is. And so I just focused on just being the best developer you can, if you’re left out of a meeting, catch up with what they said I just mentally just chose, just focus on the job. Do the best you can. And once your daughter gets better, you’ll be back in the office.

[00:40:59] Like things like that. Yeah. But it was rough. Yeah,

[00:41:02] Frederick Weiss: [00:41:02] That stuff’s very real and very valid. You talked about guilt, it’s guilt about not being out of the office. There’s also a lot of guilt from the other way where you’re like, Oh, I need to be with my child or you get these sometimes we get calls or we get emails late at night and we have to jump on the machine and.

[00:41:20] Break out and do things. And you’re like, sorry, I’ll be with you in a little bit and you got to do things because it’s work and you gotta you’ve got to take care of work, but also your child it’s I think it’s circling back with ageism and everything like that.

[00:41:36] It’s hard for people to understand. And I think for me, sometimes I’m definitely a human being, I get frustrated and I do project my own emotions. Baggage, if you will, on people that may or may not be valid. And sometimes it can be frustrating and challenging, absolutely. But why don’t we, why don’t we jump into the next thing, which I’m super excited about is you were a founder of our time for tech.org. W what first off, what was the what was it, a Sega Genesis here? What w what made you what made you do this? Why did you start this? Let’s

[00:42:16] Arit Amana: [00:42:16] hear it. We’re here to hear you say founder.

[00:42:19] I’m still, it’s so funny. Everyone tells me are you’re a founder and I’m like, no I don’t feel like I fit in the mold. Like the traditional founder mode, but it’s okay. Okay. Our time for tech really came out of what I felt was needed in the tech. Or let me say I can say tech industry, but as an engineer, let me say also the Software Engineering industry.

[00:42:46] I felt as though when I reflected over my journey and how I got to where I am, I realized that. I enjoyed a lot of privilege around having access to mentors, having access to people who had been there. Either, they’ve worked for many decades in the field. And so they have the benefit of that experience, or they’ve also transitioned from other careers into tech and are able to speak to that.

[00:43:18] I felt like a lot of my confidence came from my connection to those people. And so I began thinking about how I could give back. So our time for tech really is giving back. And how can I either myself or leveraging my network, how can I make that same kind of support available to women who are making similar transitions, either coming from another career or mothers like myself wanting to transition a lot.

[00:43:50] I hear from a lot of women who say, I want to get into tech because of the flexibility. Opportunity to work from home, the better pay. And so it really came from a desire to give back and to give what I was given.

[00:44:10] Frederick Weiss: [00:44:10] Nice. Yeah. I want to read this piece that I pulled off the website and see what you say here.

[00:44:17] So I founded. Our time for tech to give women what is often missing from bootcamps and other upskilling programs. So you say intimate, engaged and substain support. Do you mind diving into that and how that’s missing and how you’re providing that?

[00:44:36] Arit Amana: [00:44:36] So you’re exactly right when I was conceiving our time for tech, I really did not want to just duplicate, duplicate what’s out there.

[00:44:45] So bootcamps are great. I love the fact that boot camps are providing that opportunity to gain these skills in a relatively short period of time and get you job ready. That, that, wasn’t what I wanted to do. I know there’s career accelerators out there and their purposes through scientific means and tree training you with, for example, for Software Engineering, training you in algorithms, especially if you’re interested in the fan companies, they’re doing a fantastic job.

[00:45:15] I wasn’t looking to duplicate that. And so for me, I want it to fill in the gaps. And so sometimes you can go through a bootcamp and you emerge with a great portfolio, but maybe you’re not really getting like that. Personalized and that targeted mentoring boot camps at the end of the day, they make money with higher enrollment.

[00:45:41] And so at least for like in my bootcamp, we had one-on-one mentoring throughout. I know some boot camps it’s group based, and so the truth of the matter is yes, you’re getting the technical skills and you’re building the portfolio, but are you getting that personalized one on one target?

[00:46:05] Support another gap that I discovered Frederick is a lot of times with boot camps, you are not doing a whole lot of group work. You’re not doing a whole lot of coding and building as a team. And so you are the judge, jury and executioner on all your projects, right? Like you decide scope. Like you’re, like a one man team and that’s good for learning, but I think another dimension of learning, especially as a Software Engineer, is learning how to build with a team.

[00:46:34] And that was another gap that I was realizing, even with the bootcamp education and the self-taught, there weren’t that many opportunities to build software as a team. And so that’s another thing that we do in our time for tech. It’s okay, you have some coding skill, but like for example, we just got done with cycle two and we’re about to get done with cycle two.

[00:46:57] I should say all our fellows, they never, they didn’t know how to use gifts. Or get a hub, pull requests. What is that? Cause you’re building a personal project and you just you just push to whatever branch you want. Like you ain’t come pull requests. And so I felt and at the end of the day, another thing I discovered Frederick is when you go in for those interviews and you’re able to demonstrate that you have that experience coding with the team you can speak to the nuances.

[00:47:27] When you’re coding with a team, as opposed to just building your own personal thing, you end up exuding that confidence. And, so yes, you have the technical skill, but then you also convince the hiring manager that I can function as part of a team. So those are the gaps that I’m seeking to fill. I’m not really trying to copy what’s out there, which is, which has been done well and very well.

[00:47:50] But I find that these are the gaps that are still persisting in the. In, the experience of women breaking into tech. And so that’s what we’re looking at.

[00:48:03] Frederick Weiss: [00:48:03] That’s a lot of what you, you hear from HR departments, right? They’re always looking for people with experience.

[00:48:10] Yeah. What, does experience mean? How do we quantify that? How can we define experiences? Experience just means, I I worked at someplace for two years. What does it mean? I have soft skills and I can work with the team. I’m not a crazy psychopath. I I, could talk to people and I could have a conversation and I could collaborate.

[00:48:32] So a lot of times people will hire different individuals just because they could work for a team. And they’re easy to talk to when we’re at the office or at home. However, we’re we, working with people. We collaborate all day. And if you have somebody that is providing a lot of friction it’s difficult.

[00:48:55] You just want to be able to, get things done and have somebody that’s just cool to talk to. And sometimes you could just teach skills. Yeah, it’s even there, there was a great example that Jeffrey Zeldman provided on our show a few weeks back where he talked about where he was working at someplace and they were letting people go and he was one of the first people to get, let go in his career because.

[00:49:20] He might’ve known a little bit more than some of the other people and had a certain respect for these certain projects he was working on, but he wasn’t the easiest person to deal with in his younger years which he took to heart and was a great lesson for him. A lot of those things I think aligned with what you’re talking about is, having that kind of experience and being able to have those conversations.

[00:49:44] That’s wonderful.

[00:49:46] Arit Amana: [00:49:46] Even technical communication. So when you think about it, like with our current cycle too, it’s one thing to be able to code a feature. It’s another thing to talk through it. So another thing to explain what you did and enter questions and answer questions along the lines. Like I’ve spoken with.

[00:50:04] Some of my mentees will tell me, Oh, I’ve had job interviews and say, we were talking about a project of mine where I integrated a payment processing like Stripe, for example, and they get questions, like, why did you choose Stripe? Why didn’t you go with this? Or they get questions. Why did Stripe appeal to you?

[00:50:24] And they freeze. Because they never thought about it. They only implemented Stripe because the tutorial said to implement Stripe. And so that’s what I’m talking about. Gaps. That’s what I mean by gaps is yes, you’re gaining right? These hard technical skills. You’re learning to code you’re following tutorials.

[00:50:42] You’re completing boot camps, but are you really. Thinking about what you’re building. And do you have opportunities to communicate what you’re learning? Because it’s what you communicate in your interviews that gets you the job, not necessarily what you’ve done. And that’s what I learned. I think there’s a mindset out there that just because you have a portfolio of 10 kick-ass projects, that doesn’t mean you will get the job.

[00:51:09] If they ask you questions about what you built and you don’t have that confidence or that sense of ownership. To talk confidently about what you built. They could conclude that. You really don’t know this stuff, but you do. And so that’s it huge gap that I see and that’s what I’m trying to meet through our time for tech is creating a space where women breaking into tech con can come and learn these soft skills, learn how to communicate technically about what they’re building participate in a stand up, participate in a sprint planning.

[00:51:42] When your colleague makes a pull request, how do you review code? Not just write code, but how do you review other people’s code? Can you get to a point where you understand what this person was trying to do and, go in and either affirm it or come up with a different approach and suggest it, and then the communication piece as well.

[00:52:07] And so I’m talking about the code collap track. We have better prep, which is for job seekers in particular. But, yeah, we’re just, we’re looking to fill the gap. Is, what we’re looking to do and be like augmenting all the resources out there that are available for people breaking into tech.

[00:52:32] Yeah.

[00:52:33] Frederick Weiss: [00:52:33] Yeah. W it’s just, like you said you, come out and have some of these camps and you don’t know how to talk to people, don’t know how to talk to them, or they don’t know how to sell their ideas. Like you said, You say why did you use this font here? Or why are you using view instead of, I don’t know.

[00:52:55] Yeah, I dunno it doesn’t sell it to the C levels. You can have some kind of reason behind it, but Hey we’re getting really close to the end and I just want to make sure that I put up some links and. Promote all the places where people could find you. So you’re on Twitter with your name, LinkedIn.

[00:53:15] Your website is art.dev. Obviously our time for tech.org. And if you go to art. Developer and get hub and you got some of your stuff. And I love this recent video that I brought up with GitHub about because you showed just recently how people could actually do it, set up a project, and bring it to your local cloning.

[00:53:41] And I think a lot of people are just. Really afraid sometimes to one open a terminal or that they might not even know about tools. Like what, is it a tower, forget. Or some of those LaSeon thumbs from their tools like that, that you can do,

[00:54:01] Arit Amana: [00:54:01] right?

[00:54:02] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I started a YouTube channel. It’s so funny. I’m not. I appreciate everything but I’m not doing it for likes. I really started, my YouTube channel really is for representation because when I, YouTube is like a wonderful resource for people breaking into tech.

[00:54:21] There’s just so many tutorials and videos. The more I got into it, the more I saw that there’s just not a whole lot of technical content being done by black. Older women. And so that’s one of the reasons why I decided to start putting out what I’m learning and how I’m growing technically on YouTube.

[00:54:43] And really just, show that we’re out here doing this and you can too.

[00:54:48] Frederick Weiss: [00:54:48] Yeah. Yeah. W we, all need to be out there. The more people that we could get out to, to communicate our voice it’s, hard being a if you don’t see people that are like, you like-minded look like you or, your age and what have you, all these things it’s, inspiring to be able to see that and say, yeah, you know what?

[00:55:09] I could do that too. We, we all need role models and mentors and that, that, line of inspiration. What right at the end of the show. And I love to present our guests with an opportunity to leave us with some parting words of wisdom. And I’m sure people ask you all the time too, about things about Hey tricks and tips for moms, et cetera.

[00:55:34] Which one of the things I know you said is. It’s taking your time and you definitely reiterated that early on in the beginning of the show about you’re finding a bootcamp that you were able to take your time with, but I’d love to provide you again with an opportunity for some parting words of wisdom.

[00:55:51] Arit Amana: [00:55:51] Yeah. What I will say is if you are, so let’s look at it from what I was able to accomplish, right? If you are seeking to break into Software Engineering I think the best thing I can advise is. Approach it with an almost militant mindset, right? So there’s a lot of sexy stories out here there’s you, check on YouTube, how I broke into tech in three months, two months, five weeks, and these stories are sexy and they’re inspiring.

[00:56:22] And they make you feel like I can do this. But I think you really do yourself a service to get over the emotional aspect of your decision and really Approach the the process with a disciplined and an almost militant mindset and really take stock of what you have available to you.

[00:56:45] What privilege. Do you enjoy that you can leverage? And what I mean by that is whether it’s financial, whether it’s in terms of support, whether it’s in terms of what you have access to, who you have access to take a good inventory of what you have at your disposal, and really think about how making your journey will impact not just your life, but the lives of those in your your family or your community or whoever you’re connected to.

[00:57:16] And I think when you slow down , you plan accordingly. I think when the roadblocks come up and when the challenges come up, you are prepared to push your way through them. Another thing I’ll also say is, do not wait to network. Networking is as easy as I use my Twitter. Yeah. Primarily for professional reasons.

[00:57:41] And so it’s just as easy as following people. If their DMS is open, ask them questions, get yourself on the radar of people in the industry and start networking. Because it’s really invaluable to be able, I call it standing on the shoulders of benevolent giants. Okay, not the wicked ones. You have people who will never give you a leg up to save their life.

[00:58:04] But for the most part, people are helpful. And so take advantage of that. Take advantage of people’s Goodwill and their desire to help, but be as deliberate as you can surround yourself with support, whatever time you think it will take you to complete your transition, triple it, manage your expectations.

[00:58:23] Think if you manage your expectations, you will be better equipped to To push your way past the challenges that come up and you reach your goals.

[00:58:34] Frederick Weiss: [00:58:34] I love that. And also, Jessica is also appreciating what you’re saying. Thank you, Jessica. Great interview and advice. Thank you so much, Jessica, for watching and really appreciate it.

[00:58:44] Yeah. That’s that? That’s such great advice because if you don’t talk to people they might not know who you are or where you are or what you’re doing. Yeah that’s, awesome, Eric. Dang. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us and coming on again. I know it’s a Saturday.

[00:59:03] It’s not the easiest thing for us, for everyone to do so really,

[00:59:07] Arit Amana: [00:59:07] appreciate it. I really appreciate it, it’s an honor. It’s an honor. And I’m humbled to be asked. So that hasn’t been asked to be on your podcast, Frederick, and you all have been great, not just the actual session that we just had, but even the follow-up and the checking in you guys have been very compassionate and very cha you know, crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s.

[00:59:30] So I want to recognize that you’re doing this and you’re doing it well, so thank you. Thank you

[00:59:35] Frederick Weiss: [00:59:35] very much. I appreciate that. All right. Before I start crying. Thanks everybody for joining the show. Really appreciate it. And we’ll see you next time. Thanks

[00:59:43] Arit Amana: [00:59:43] all. Thanks everyone. Thank you,

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