Cecilia – My journey into tech
Hello! I am Cecilia and I am Lattimore and Friends’ Project Assistant. I’m new in both this role and in this field and I’m very excited about this new journey. As a female-presenting non-binary person, I was off to a hard path in Tech, but the L+F team have been incredibly supportive since my first interview. I have to admit: what an incredible way to start my career in Tech!
As previously mentioned, I have been hired as a Project Assistant, which means that my role is to assist the Project Managers with daily processes and manage the communication with the developers, making sure they deliver each project on brief and on time. Although L+F is a small agency, it is growing rapidly and we now juggle quite a few projects at the same time. That’s why we rely on a good project management software (you can read about how we use AirTable here) and an extra mind to keep all projects on track.
Becoming a Project Assistant
Was I ever dreaming to work in Project Management for Tech? Not really. Am I loving it? Absolutely!
To understand how I got here, perhaps it is useful to tell you a little about my background. For my bachelor degree, I studied Design Management and Cultures, which is a very broad field. In practice, you can either end up in a Design Studio as a Project Manager for designers (could be Studio Manager or Creative Strategist), or you could become a brand ‘Design Guardian’, overseeing how values and messaging are communicated aesthetically.
In my last year of university, I landed a job as the latter, working as a Design Manager for a luxury jewellery company and managing, planning and designing how the brand looked like. Great role, but it made me understand that:
- I did not want to be working for a retail company;
- I did not want to work as a designer;
- I wanted to be in an environment where I could be valued for my multi-tasking skills.
In my previous role, I was juggling between designing, updating four e-commerce platforms, covering shifts in the stores, organising social media and events, plus assisting any other daily operations.
I always loved to be involved in many different projects at the same time, so I had to be sure my next role offered that. Turns out, in my first month at my new role I’m helping out with about seven projects, writing blog posts, designing a few social media posts and who knows what else will be next! A change of industry was much needed, and a Tech startup seems to be the perfect environment for people like me, who enjoy doing multiple things at the same time.
Skills learned/to learn
As previously mentioned, I am a bit of a multi-tasker. My first big project management experience started two years ago when for my major project in university I launched a platform to destigmatise pleasure through art and design. I started this believing I was mostly going to collect writers and artists and design a magazine, instead, I was quickly overwhelmed by the huge amount of processes that need to be in place for the completion of such a large project. In just a few months, I was managing a group of about ten volunteers, sourcing creatives for the printed issue and the online blog, planning budgets and applying for funding, organising launch events and pop-up shops, and much more.
Furthermore, I mostly describe myself as a creative problem solver: Design Thinking is a methodology that I learned during my studies and applied since then. It allows people to identify the real problem beyond an issue and originate possible creative solutions to tackle it. Therefore, I try to think outside the box when it comes to providing solutions that are not just an easy fix, but sustainable in the long run.
Might be a little early to say, but I believe this process can be very useful in Tech too: to develop a website is to use a language, and there are surely many ways to do so. A Project Management job is also to help developers to find the best solutions when it comes to challenging projects, while being able to translate this to the client. I think I was set for this job with the right skills, but there was one skill set that was completely missing there: web development! I learned some light HTML and CSS back in university, but I was afraid to be quite useless at the beginning of my new role, as I did not know much about coding.
However, my fears were unjustified: from day 1, I have been receiving support and training by both executing a few guided tasks to understand the processes and having regular calls to learn more about WordPress and the work that our developers do.
Getting into Tech
To get into Tech in Project Management is not always easy, especially if you do not come directly from a Tech background. However, there are some awesome companies that are aware that the role is mostly a learn-by-doing process, and sometimes they need to take a chance on people with no experience in the field – but hopefully with some transferable skills. If you are wishing to start your career in Tech, there are two main points I would suggest you take into consideration:
- Make sure you highlight the set of skills you have which can be transferred into your new role. Working in Tech doesn’t always mean you have to have a background in Computer Science, it just means you have to show that you can learn quickly and be agile and flexible with the skills you learned in other experiences!
- Pick a company that makes a difference. Whether you’re chasing a big corporate or a growing startup, find out if they are nice people with decent values. One of the reasons why I took this job, is that I knew Lattimore and Friends has sought to use its platform to help under-represented groups get into tech: five out of seven full-time hires over the years have been female, non-binary or non-white people, and only two cisgender white man. We should stop the stereotypes that Tech is for white men and robots only, and whether you are part of a minority or not, you can be an ally and help to support this change.
If you are thinking about working in Tech, I hope this post was somewhat useful, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!