We had the awesome opportunity to chat to her and learn from her most important lessons in the BrownGirlGang journey from its inception in 2017, along with her work in the Community team at AirTree Ventures and the Influencer Marketing team at Showpo:
“There are so many things I wish I knew a few years ago when I was starting out my career in tech
From how to navigate being the only woman of colour in the room, to contributing to discussions as the youngest member in the conversation, and so much more.
I’m so excited to be part of the newsletter this week and hope this write-up helps you out, even if it’s in a super small way.
So, today I’d love to share the 3 most important pieces of career advice that I would give my younger self, and I hope it helps you too:
👩🎨#1: If you’re ever feeling stuck on what project to start next…create things you wish existed
There are 7.8 billion people in this world, so if you feel something is lacking, chances are others wish it existed too.
Be incredibly mindful of your daily thoughts, notice which pain points you can start solving, then work on an initiative to fill that gap.
Upon reflection, it’s crazy how little money I’ve spent building BrownGirlGang over the last 5 years. The internet has so many free resources, no-code tools and detailed tutorials that will enable you to execute whatever you think has value.
If your idea doesn’t ‘succeed’, then often the worst-case scenario is you taught yourself new skills, deepened your critical thinking abilities and created something for yourself…which is actually a pretty amazing scenario in itself.
Fun fact: creating something that I wished existed is exactly how I started what’s now my biggest passion and career achievement.
One morning, I found myself procrastinating studying for exams (oops) by scrolling through Instagram for a few hours and came across some really talented South Asian influencers.
I was in awe of these women from all career fields who were finding the most creative ways to fuse traditional elements of "brown" culture with pop culture. It was so empowering and validating to finally discover content representing dual cultural identities that I found myself wanting to learn more about each girl and the story behind her work.
I thought to myself, “I wish I could just find all these women in one place, like a ‘girl gang’, or more specifically, like a ‘brown girl gang’, so I can see myself reflected in the media”.
So I searched up the handle ‘@browngirlgang’, saw ‘no results found’ and decided, “Hey, why not start this myself?”
📣#2: If you’re ever the only person who looks like you in the room…don’t be afraid to take up space
This is easier said than done and something I struggled with at many points; tbh sometimes still do!
But at the end of the day, it’s always worth remembering that you’ve been chosen to be in that room for a reason.
This feeling is often referred to as Imposter Syndrome. However, I recently read a super interesting article which suggested, “Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work”.
This really resonated with me, as without representation, it’s almost impossible to be what you can’t see.
Why should we be hard on ourselves for feeling like ‘imposters’ when actually, it’s a truly brave and courageous thing to be taking up space?
Moreover, I think this notion applies not just to women in the workplace, but to anyone who identifies as part of an underrepresented group, e.g. differently-abled, sexual identity, etc.
Whilst it’s easy to say people should ‘take up space’ it can definitely feel daunting at first if you’re the only person like yourself in the room. In these moments, I like to remind myself that diversity of thought is invaluable in all situations and that your unique lived experience can bring a fresh set of eyes to any scenario.
Try starting small, even if it’s just contributing one idea to a meeting - it’s all about momentum and practice!
🌱#3: If you’re ever the youngest person at work… you’re not expected to know all the answers.
Embrace your age and lack of experience. This comes with a massive caveat of making sure you have a strong work ethic, bringing passion to your tasks, being willing to learn on the job, and staying open to constructive feedback..
Once you’ve checked these boxes, the most important thing is to just be yourself.
Your senior colleagues or managers don’t expect you to act their age...since you’re not (duh!).
This sounds obvious but people can always tell when someone isn’t being genuine and it makes it so much harder to connect with them on a personal level.
Your senior colleagues are used to being surrounded by peers like them," so be a breath of fresh air in their day, just by being yourself.
If you’re making non-work chat, don’t try to inauthentically copy the topics of older colleagues (it will be glaringly obvious to them you’re not really at that life stage). Share your genuine interests, hobbies and weekend plans.
You will feel more confident AND your team will feel like they know ‘the real you’ better. A big and easy win-win.
I hope these things were helpful in some way and please feel free to say hey! You can find me on Instagram @sanjananagesh or Linkedin 😊
You rarely see ‘Product Management’ degrees in the tech world, so where the f*ck do all these product managers come from? One of the most common pathways is to first be a software engineer, but it’s no easy leap.
Silicon Valley seems like a pretty dope place to work eh? Turns out, we are not unique in our view, getting a job in the valley is ruthlessly competitive and it attracts some of the best talent globally.
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