Being a highly visible woman in tech isn’t easy, but women can make their mark by believing in themselves and forging their own paths.
That’s what digital entrepreneur, writer, video host, on-air personality and content strategist Jessica Naziri told Jersey Shore Women in Tech organizer Brittany Jacobs during a June 16 online meeting. The video can be found here.
Naziri discussed her journey from CNN to CNBC; to the Los Angeles Times, where she was a tech journalist; and, finally, to her current position as founder and CEO of TechSesh, a technology and lifestyle blog for women. As Naziri told her story, she gave some advice to women in tech based on her own experience. Here it is:
- On careers: Career journeys aren’t always straight paths. “There were a lot of things around a different trajectory that I had to take that didn’t really lead me to where I thought I wanted to be,” but brought her to where she is now, she said.
- On the workplace: The biggest thing is to make sure you are working for “someone that’s smarter than you because it’s the only way you will learn.”
- On being a woman in tech: During a part of her career, Naziri felt alone as a female in tech. “I didn’t know that I could go to other woman to discuss what I was feeling and how I was feeling it.” She turned to Google to find communities of women in tech because “Google has everything. Yet I couldn’t find really anything in my area or anything that was really remotely interesting to me, so I said, ‘Well, then, I’ll create it.’”
- On founding TechSesh: “It was important for me to create a community, a sisterhood, where other women in tech could feel like they belong, where they can share information, where they can help each other and maybe meet their next cofounder.”
- On owning your value: “I think there’s a difference between knowing your value and owning your value, and you can own your value when you’re expert in that subject, whether or not you have been to school for it. School doesn’t make you an expert in something, but the research that you do [can make you one], so that at the end of the day you feel comfortable. That’s how you can own it.”
- On owning your value: Make sure you are “listening to yourself, you’re owning your value. And even when you feel like people are doubting you, just shove that aside and look at the way you are going towards your goals.”
- On being a female tech consumer: Jacobs had mentioned that some tech products were being labeled with pink spots or painted pink to indicate that they’re female-friendly. If “these companies are expecting us to just purchase them because there’s pink on it, and that’s their marketing strategy, that’s wrong. There are seats at the table and we [women] need to be taking those seats for it to make sense … so that we have a say in what we’re buying.”
- On mentors: Not everyone can find a mentor, so women must take responsibility to learn the things they need to learn. “Google was my mentor,” she said. Also, women can learn from various people during different phases of their careers. “I listen intently to a lot of really smart people, and it’s always been important to me to have a job where there’s somebody in the company that can teach me something and can help me grow.”
- On choosing a life partner who is your biggest cheerleader: “There are a lot of men that were intimidated by my success or intimidated by what I wanted to accomplish. But my husband Michael has been amazing. And now I know I have a business partner in him and a life partner, so I really want women who are dating or thinking about it or in relationships to realize that your partner is also a really big investment. And if they are not invested in your wants and desires and seeing you succeed, then it’s not going to work out.”
- On change: Everybody should always do what they’re passionate about and what fits into their lifestyle. “And, so, if your passions change, and your lifestyle changes, then change whatever else you need to do to fit into that. You know you’re smart, you know you’re capable, you know you have it in you to get things done and get what you want.”
- On failure: “All the failures that I’ve had throughout my trajectory in my career are exactly what allowed me to take those steps to get to where I am now. So, if you’re not failing, you’re not doing it right, and you need to fail in order to be able to pick yourself up and make sure you’re doing [your career] the way you want, and getting what you want.