podcast • 41MIN READ
What The Next 20 Million Devs Want w/ Tiff in Tech & Stereotype Breakers' Masha Zvereva
The world is shortly going to need another 20 million developers, and with over 1,000 engineering leaders joining us for INTERACT on April 7th, there’s no better time to talk to two people who have captured the minds of millions of developers - and will be featured at INTERACT - Tiffany Janzen and Masha Zvereva.
In addition to their own tech careers, both women have become prominent voices in the dev community, Tiffany is most well-known for her Tiff in Tech YouTube channel and Masha for her company Stereotype Breakers.
Tiff and Masha spend their time connecting, communicating and inspiring the next generation of devs. They’re the ideal experts to dive deep on how Gen Z devs think and what they want.
That’s why we were so happy they took time to sit down for an episode of Dev Interrupted to give us some incredible insights on what it’s going to take to recruit, hire and retain the millions of new developers who are joining the workforce.
If you want to join Tiffany and Masha at INTERACT on April 7th, it’s easy: Just register at devinterrupted.com/interact
See you there!
Episode Highlights Include:
- (2:29) How Tiff transitioned into tech from the fashion industry
- (8:18) Mistakes companies make in the recruitment process
- (14:59) Are technical interviews still necessary?
- (18:26) The traits engineering leaders have that devs respect
- (21:21) How to get your start as a content creator
- (24:47) Founding of Stereotype Breakers
- (26:18) The questions devs want answered
- (29:22) Reasons devs turn down jobs
- (33:01) Keeping devs motivated & happy once they join your team
- (38:23) Knowing your worth as a dev & fighting for it
Join engineering leaders from Netflix, Slack, Stack Overflow, American Express & more at LinearB's virtual engineering leadership conference, INTERACT on April 7th, 2022.
1 day, 20 speakers, 1,000s of engineering leaders - all driven by the Dev Interrupted community. If you are a team lead, engineering manager, VP or CTO looking to improve your team, this is the conference for you!
Conor Bronsdon: Host
Tiffany Janzen: Founder at TiffinTech
Matias Reva: Founder at Stereotype Breakers
Conor: [00:00-01:44] Hi, I'm Connor Bronsdon, the host of this episode of Dev Interrupted. The world is shortly going to need another twenty-million developers and with over one thousand engineering leaders from across the world joining us for INTERACT on April 7th, there's no better time to talk to two people who have captured the minds of millions of developers and will be featured at INTERACT. Tiffany Janzen and Masha Zvereva, in addition to their own tech careers, both women have become prominent voices in the dev community. Tiffany is most well known for her TiffinTech YouTube channel, and Masha for her company Stereotype Breakers. Tiff and Masha spend their time connecting, communicating and inspiring the next generation of devs. They're the ideal experts to dive deep on how Gen Z devs think and what they want. That's why we're so happy they took time out before INTERACT, to give us some incredible insights on what it's going to take to recruit, hire and be respected by the millions of new developers who are joining the workforce. If you want to join Tiffany, Masha, and I at INTERACT on April 7th, it is easy. Just register at devinterrupted.com/interact. I hope to see you there. Now on with the show. This episode is broken into two parts. The first half is my interview with Tiffany. The second half is my interview with Masha. Tiff, thanks so much for joining me today I've never interrupted, really excited to have this conversation with you. And I think the fact that you are delivering so much information to an audience of, you know, 200,000 plus developers on Instagram 150,000 plus on YouTube, you're gonna make such an interesting and unique perspective to both this pod and INTERACT. So really stoked just to kind of go through, have this conversation. For folks who don't know who you are, do you want to maybe just tell us like who you are, what you do and then we'll dive into our topics?
Tiffany: [0:1:45-02:22] Hi Connor, thanks. I'm really excited to be here. A little bit of background on me. So, as you kind of mentioned, I have a social media platform called TiffinTech where I share different tech news, tech updates, tech tips, all things kind of tech related. And it really stemmed from my own journey into tech, I didn't initially start in tech. And when I made that transition, just feeling kind of overwhelmed and alone in the process. And the reason I started this platform was so others don't have to feel that way, to provide support and mentorship and this community online. And yeah, outside of that I am a software developer at IBM.
Conor: [02:22-02:29] I love that you got into it because you saw this gap in your own transition. What were you doing before you became a developer?
Tiffany: [02:22-2:58] Before I was a developer, I started out in the fashion industry. So, I was-after high school, I went to school for fashion then ended up living in Hong Kong for modeling, came back to Canada, went to university, it was more for the graphic design side of things and in my last year of university, it was required to take a very basic coding course, which kind of opened up the floodgates to me. I found coding so amazing and just went head on for it.
Conor: [02:59-03:48] That's awesome. I think that that kind of transition story is going to become more and more common. Like I know so many folks who, you know, went to coding Dojo or realized late in their-their career, or maybe you know partway through school that they wanted to make this transition, because we know that there are more developers coming, you know, software is eating the world, as they say. Any business that wants to be successful is becoming a tech business. So, because of that, you know, we have more developers today than ever before, we're expecting even more. And developers are also getting more like information and expectations about the industry in ways that were, you know, unrecognizable even five years ago. Five years ago, we didn't have a million developer YouTube channels that we're pushing out this incredible information, just like you said, like when you started, this didn't really exist. And so, I'm curious, from your perspective, you know, besides yourself, who are the like most beloved personalities for this, like, next generation of developers?
Tiffany: [03:49-04:29] Oh that’s a good question. For me, who I gravitate towards anyways, are people who-who are very transparent and candid. So, they're sharing their journey no matter what path they've come from. But I just really value, when I'm following others anyways, their transparency or candidness, not just necessarily a highlight reel, but also sharing the low days or low moments. So, I think that will continue to be the next generation that will get noticed more, so will just be ones that are very transparent and candid. And I think that develops a really strong relationship with your audience, because we all go through it. It's whether you're willing to share those lows or not.
Conor: [04:30-04:34] What are the keys in your mind for not just you're-building trust with your audience, but also with your team?
Tiffany: [04:35-05:28] For me, one of the things that I struggled with for a long time was being transparent with my team when I just didn't know something. And for a long time, I would say when I left the company where I started and moved to a bigger company, where I am now, at IBM. For the first few months I just felt that I put this pressure on myself to not ask questions that I should know at all, which is completely untrue. I was talking to, at the time, this was two years ago, I was talking to a senior developer or mentor of mine there and I apologized for asking a question. And I forget how she phrased it but she said it in a way where at every level, you're going to ask questions like, don't apologize for that. But make sure you ask those questions. And going back to transparency, just-just messaging someone when you don't know, or you need help, or you need that extra support. And that really, I have found just having strong communication can really bring a team together and strengthen it.
Conor: [05:29-05:40] So one question I get a lot from folks is, you know, like trade, like we're building transparency in teams, but what are developers not getting in their experience from employers that they need?
Tiffany: [05:41-06:17] I think one thing that one area that employers can continue to improve on is if you have the transparency down, and the teams are communicating really well. I think in this environment, you know, two years from pandemic essentially, is flexibility. I think that's something that there's more value than ever on right now. Being able to work remotely or meet the needs. And that's a very tough one, because everyone has unique needs and different preferences. But I think that's an area that can continue to be improved on right now is just offering that flexibility to their employees.
Conor: [06:18-06:27] It's a great point, are there ways that you can help educate with that with your platform or push for that that you're trying to do?
Tiffany: [06:28-07:11] When it comes to flexibility? It's, that's a tough one. I think when it comes to my platform, and just sharing, I think it can be pro and con because I-right now I am very flexible, I can work from home or starting this week actually back in office. So, for me, when I'm sharing my experience, it's a very flexible experience. And people who are watching that experience, then if that's maybe not what their employer is offering, I could think that-I think that could be a two-fold, maybe something that then they start wanting more of or realizing, “Hey, there are companies out there that are more flexible.” So maybe it goes back to transparency, just sharing what other companies are doing. Yeah, I think flexibility is a hard one, though, to kind of share more about on a platform.
Conor: [07:12-07:23] So how can employers try to emulate or push for whether transparency or flexibility? How do they avoid coming off as disingenuous and actually walk the talk?
Tiffany: [07:24-08:04] I think when it comes to transparency, one of the biggest things that I found really helpful is, you know, we talk a lot about being candid or transparent with your-your peers, but when it comes from management level, when they are transparent, and they talk about their failures, or their maybe insecurities are things they are uncertain about, when I hear stories from management level of that it makes me feel more like it's a community and that I can be more transparent, because everyone is not just necessarily my direct peers. And so I think if you know, especially when it comes from higher level management, rather than just talking the talk, showing with their actions is a huge thing.
Conor: [08:04-08:22] Leading by example, I totally agree with you. And I think it maybe plays into one of the major things that every company is struggling with, which is recruiting developers. And it seemingly only-only going to get harder as the demand increases. What are common mistakes you see the leadership and companies making in the recruitment process?
Tiffany: [08:23-09:14] For me, one common mistake, something that I always look for, and I haven't been interviewing for a while now but when I was one of the things that I always look for is “Is this a two way street?” When I go in, and say it's a technical-technical portion of the interview, if I asked a question or need help on a specific part, are they going to communicate with me or to me? Are we gonna solve this problem together? Or is it the expectations that if I don't know anything, then we just kind of shut down that interview. And I think to have it, for me anyways, and everyone's different but for me a successful interview or something to not do in an interview is make the interviewee feel as though-although it is a test, but feel as though it's a one way street. I think having that two-way communication and seeing how you work well together is so important. And missing, I think in a lot of interviews.
Conor: [09:15-09:31] but I love that we're digging into how companies can improve their recruiting processes. I think it reflects into both onboarding and how to like retain developers and just make sure the experience is stronger for everyone. What are some of the methods that companies should be using to recruit developers that maybe they're not right now?
Tiffany: [09:32-10:39] One thing I was talking to a tech recruiter actually the other week, and as we all know, so many of our opportunities are brought through networking, which is amazing. But the other side of it is, there is some really wonderful technical people who might be more shy or networking is something that they really dislike or it's not their strongest skill set. And I think oftentimes they're missed for potential opportunities because of that. And although I don't have a specific solution to that, I think it's an area that would be intriguing to dive into more as to how to make people with different personalities, especially ones that are a bit more reserved, feel comfortable enough, because so often in the interview, we're already, no matter how outspoken you are a typical person is quite nervous to go into an interview, especially when it gets to a technical interview. As a side note, this might be too much information. But I remember my first technical interview, I was wearing a blue button up shirt. And right before it, like I think I was, there was a mall quite close to the place where I was getting interviewed, and I was sweating so bad, I had to go buy another shirt.
Conor: [10:40-10:41] Oh, no.
Tiffany: [10:41-10:42] Like it was that level of nervousness so.
Conor: [10:42-10:43] Oh no, yeah.
Tiffany: [10:44-11:03] Yeah. So, it's a real thing, feeling that way. And then if someone's on top of that, quite shy, they definitely will not perform their best and show what they really can do and what they're capable of. So, I don't have a solution for it. But I think it's just an interesting area to start looking into more is how to-how can we make more people feel comfortable throughout that process?
Conor: [11:04-11:51] I think it's a great point, particularly for folks who are maybe from like underrepresented groups or non-traditional backgrounds, where you come in and you don't have that, you know, network growth, you don't have the like traditional background, maybe you have deep technical skills and knowledge and you’re a great fit for the role. But how do you demonstrate that? And I know some folks, on an individual level, take the approach of like, I'll have a great portfolio, or I'm going to do XYZ, but not everyone has the opportunity or time to do that. And it's also like a huge burden on the individual. When it’s the company who is seeking talent, it's missing out on opportunities. So, I think that's a great point that we consider. It's like, how can we fix that? I wonder if there are also like red flags for you, when you're interviewing with company or you hear someone's interview with a company where developers say, “This seems like a great opportunity, but for this reason on turning it down,” What are some of those?
Tiffany: [11:52-12:21] For me, one of the biggest things is mentorship. So, what I mean by that is if I'm interviewing for a company, and they don't seem to have any, this is more about startups and it varies-it's just my preference, but I like having people to look up to, more senior people that I really want to emulate their careers, similar career path and, and just have that support from them. Even whether it's not even technical support, but just career support and advice. For me, mentorship is a huge thing.
Conor: [12:22-12:35] Are there like small things that employers can do to make major positive impacts on prospective developers? Like what are the things that like on the opposite end of the spectrum would make you go, “Okay, this isn’t a red flag, that's actually like a great flag, I want to-I want to go work for this team.”
Tiffany: [12:36-13:20] I think it comes back to during the interview process or when I'm seeing how they interact with each other how interviewers interact with each other. Sometimes you go in and you just sense that they’re just very business oriented or not a community feel to it. Also, I've had experiences with interviews where they'll-every company varies, but if they're allowed to, they would take me around the office and introduce me to the other employees. And I really love that because it just, it brings a sense of community and I keep on going back to community because it is such a huge part of my happiness at a job. You know, we spend so much time there, I want to, to some degree, enjoy the people I'm working with, we can-we can connect?
Conor: [13:21-13:27] How are you building community in the work you do at IBM and then also in your content?
Tiffany: [13:28-13:56] I think it's pretty similar in both areas, actually, for IBM areas where-the past two years it's been fully remote. So, it's been an interesting challenge because I started fully remote, and you want to connect with these people. And even though it's been just through virtual calls but doing things-talking about things outside of your work. So, during, you know, if you whether it be just a virtual lunch, or a virtual hangout, and I know we're all kind of tired of that, but it does really help as far as getting to understand.
Conor: [13:56-13:57] It’s important though.
Tiffany: [13:57-14:37] It is and to know people because then you feel a connection to them and you feel more safer to ask those questions that you can be more vulnerable. For TiffinTech side of community, it's very similar, where it's just being very authentic and connecting with audience and although I can't do it necessarily one on one with individuals, I try and answer as many messages as I can. It's extraordinarily difficult, but I do my best, but rather just sharing my experiences, my highs, my lows, what I’m up to outside of tech as well, to connect with others on that, too. So just being real and just being yourself, I guess.
Conor: [14:37-14:59] Yeah. Alright well I have a question then that's kind of coming to mind here. We talked a bit about like technical interviews, how nerve wracking they are. Do you think technical interviews have a place within like an interview process? Or should it be more about like,” Hey, here's my portfolio.” And there's a lot of controversy on this. Some people are like, I've never done a technical interview, I'm done with that I proved myself so I'm always curious.
Tiffany: [15:00-15:33] I think okay, what I would like, as a developer would, of course, to never have to do a technical interview again. Do I think they are necessary or that they will show the skill level? That's a tricky one. I mean, you can be a senior, you're a matte-like, such a great developer. But unless you're spending time practicing different algorithms or leetcode questions, you might be a little bit rusty when it comes to interviewing and not be, you know, present the full package of who you are, so.
Conor: [15:33-15:40] Or just get nervous, right? Like you talked about like sweating through that shirt earlier. Like, that's-that's a hard thing to do and then have to go through an interview.
Tiffany: [15:40-16:24] It is I-but you know, the flip side of technical interviews is, what I try and look at anyways, is that I'm interviewing them as much as they are me. And kind of going back to what I said earlier is if, for example, with one technical interview I did, I was having trouble solving it, but-the end of the this this problem, but we had such a good conversation around it. And it was a two-way street. And I felt like we could talk about other things around this, like, “Okay, well, maybe I would do this solution. But then I think about this solution and this is why.” They'd be like, okay, but then what about this way? And then how like-so in that way, I think technical interviews can be helpful, because it shows the person who is getting interviewed just how the companies or these employee’s communication style is to and if it kind of fits
Conor: [16:25-16:54] And how do you think about a problem? What's your problem-solving skill? And like, is it collaborative? Are they open to questions? I think that's a great point. So-so let's say like this company, they flowered you, you were like, I want to join, they've managed to recruit these developers. How do you keep them motivated, though, right? Like, like, okay, great. We've improved our recruitment process, but it's really easy to have actual jobs suck. So, when you hear a developer like brag or gush about how great the company is, what are the things they're talking about?
Tiffany: [16:55-18:03] For me, what I, what's important for me, and what I love most about my current role is that-maybe this is because I'm more on the amount of consulting end so working on different projects for different clients. And some people love that some people hate it. I like it, because for example, and there's pros and cons, of course, but for example, you know, right now, I'm on a front-end project, but I'm super interested in more of the blockchain side develop-blockchain development. And there are a lot of projects we have on that. So, I've been pinging my manager being like “Hey, I'm really interested in this, once I take some these courses, can I get on one of these projects?” And I love that, like, I could gush all day about that, because having the opportunity to work on different technologies really excites me. So maybe some employers don't, you know, maybe it's a product company, and they don't have that option. But I think it's important for developers to keep on learning and growing and employers giving them that opportunity by working on different features or different aspects of the project. That's one thing. And then the other is flexibility. But maybe that's just my preference. But I think it's-
Conor: [18:03-18:04] No, I think it's true of a lot of folks.
Tiffany: [18:05-18:17] Yeah, yeah, just it's a simple thing, I think, to offer to employees, and then community. Just having that team that connects with each other and you don't feel silly for asking questions or anything like that.
Conor: [18:18-18:34] So we talked a bit about mentorship earlier how important that is to you, and I think that's true for anyone who has visions for like a long-term career or growth. What makes for an engineering leader, you know, director or VP, whatever-whoever it might be that devs will actually look up to and respect and want to work with?
Tiffany: [18:35-19:29] For me, the people I look up to the most for leadership are people that you know, of course, are very, you can see their skills, and they get kind of hands on into the work, I really love that. And also, to that, I know, the higher you get up the-your schedule gets so crunched and compact. So this isn't necessarily-not necessarily in a one on one level, but just being able to still connect maybe in a group setting or a lunch with all your employees, connecting with your employees to different degrees is super valuable. I look up to and, and also going back to transparency, just being a really-real leader, I feel like for me, I look up the people I look up to the most especially when it comes to technical leaders are people that I can relate to in a sense that they to maybe still feel impostor syndrome some days or they made a huge mistake one day and, and just being candid about that.
Conor: [19:30-20:26] Yeah, I spoke with Shankar Ramaswamy recently on the podcast, he's the head of engineering for DataStax. And he talked about this challenge of he's leading a team of several hundred devs, and he, you know, can't do a one on one with anyone anymore. And so one of the ways he started to adapt is doing regular AMA's, where it's like, “Hey, I'm on a zoom call, ask me anything like what can I tell you about the company? Do you have questions about the products the teams are working on? Like let's make sure that we connect regularly.” I thought that was a really good way to try to like work through it for a fully remote team. Another one obviously, it's a smaller team, but like a leader that I've really respected my-my current boss, every week, and he talks to our exec team that's present a couple of slides for the exec meeting. And he'll come back to us afterwards and say, “Hey, team, like, here's what I talked about this week. Here's what I think's really important here, the nuggets I've heard in the exec team meeting.” And that kind of visibility makes me feel like very motivated and engaged, and particularly as a startup, like, “Hey, like we have a stake in this. I think that's a very smart way to go about that.
Tiffany: [20:26-20:27] Yes, I totally agree.
Conor: [20:28-20:34] Are there other ways to like gain the respect of your team that you think of, or on the other side to lose it?
Tiffany: [20:35-20:51] To gain the respect as we've kind of talked about communication, transparency. Those are the main two that really stand out to me. And then on the flip side, what-what makes me quickly lose it is if-the opposite, no communication completely shut off just almost like this person you hear about, but you never-
Conor: [20:52-20:53] Just go do your work. I don't want to talk to you.
Tiffany: [20:53-21:10] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah, and just not being authentic. Like they just-and I understand everyone has different kind of work styles. But I just feel that if you can just, you know, show up as your full self and just be real and transparent. That's the way to go.
Conor: [21:11-21:29] Oh, I totally agree with you. That also makes me think about something else around content, obviously, like you've built this large following, you're creating some incredible content. How did you get started? And how would you encourage others to get started, if they're like, hey, I want to create, you know, coding how to, or whatever else that might be.
Tiffany: [21:30-22:36] Me, I got started my first videos on YouTube was a react to do list, coding tutorial, which is out of date now. So, I should probably take it down or something. But that was-and the reason I did it was because I-I was learning and I end up one of the best ways to learn I find is through teaching others, I see where gaps in my knowledge lie. So, I just started doing tutorials for myself almost just to see like, okay, where Tiff can you improve or can do, and of course, to-to share with others too. So, for anyone looking to kind of start creating content, I think the biggest thing is doing something you're passionate about, and knowing why you're doing it. Is it to help others? Is it to educate others? Is it simply to start a business? Is it to get famous? Like what is your reason, because based on your reason, your content is going to look a lot different. And so just understanding really the wire you're starting, and the other thing is, people, it's easy to do, but oftentimes wait till they have something perfect to put out.
Conor: [22:37-22:38] Got to at least try. Build a public.
Tiffany: [22:39-22:58] Yes, yes. You got to fail in public, like I you know, it's the constant thing, trying new things that you haven't seen before. And maybe they fail and, and, and failure. So subjective, like what really is failure, when it comes to that? I think it's just a learning curve that you don't have to come across. So just start I know, it sounds so simple, but it is that simple. Just start.
Conor: [22:59-23:40] No, I think that's great advice for anyone who's looking to create or to career transition or anything else. Like you just have to start making those steps, whether it's wanting to become a developer, whether it's wanting to dive into web three, whether it's wanting to you know, create content, whether it's blogs, videos, whatever it might be, start trying, like you're gonna learn by doing and you said, Learn by teaching, too. So I love that perspective. I think it's really clear throughout your career that you've brought that like Lifelong Learning mentality to the fray. I love that. Thank you. I will tip it's been a great conversation. I've really enjoyed chatting with you. I appreciate you coming on to share your knowledge. We're super stoked that you're part of interact for this year and I think it's going to be incredible event. So thank you so much.
Tiffany: [23:41-23:43] Thank you, Connor, I'm really looking forward to INTERACT as well.
Conor: [23:44-24:09] That was fantastic stuff from Tiff. If you liked what you heard, you can follow her at Tiffin tech across all social platforms. We'll post links in the description below. Up next is my interview with Masha. She's got a lot of great advice, so be sure to stick around. And once again, we'll include all the links to her social platforms in the description below. I'm really glad to be joined by Masha Zvereva, founder of stereotype breakers, Masha, thank you so much for joining me.
Masha: [24:09-24:12] Thank you so much for having me excited to chat today.
Conor: [24:12-24:47] Yeah, I'm really stoked to have you on the podcast, because we've heard from a lot of engineering leaders who are maybe leading big teams, but we don't get the perspective of people who are in development and particularly communicating with developers and-and talking to day-to-day people as much in their broader role. So, I'm excited to talk to you about how to kind of connect and communicate with the next 20 million developers and how engineering leaders and other folks who are interested in communicating with devs can actually get themselves heard. I'd love to kind of dive in and get to know you a bit better first. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Masha: [24:48-25:40] Absolutely. I'm the founder of stereotype breakers, which is a resource for women and technology to break stereotypes that exists in the industry and for anybody else who might I find those resources useful. I kind of ended up stumbling into this world accidentally, I don't have a technical background, I worked in marketing, and then all of a sudden started learning how to code and realize how difficult it can be for a woman to break into the industry. And ever since then my blog that I started back then has evolved, and now it is what it is. So I'm constantly on the lookout for how do I empower How do I create content that shares resources and tools for women who do want to succeed in this industry and who do want to shape it as it is evolving?
Conor: [25:41- 26:07] I think that's completely the right approach. Because to your point, there's a lack of diversity in this industry sometimes. And they're definitely barriers to entry for a multitude of folks. And so particularly women having them have their voices raised up, but the work you're doing some of the connections you're making, I think it's wonderful. There are now hundreds of 1000s of people who, across Instagram, YouTube, etc, who now follow what you're doing, correct?
Masha: [26:08-26:12] Yeah, that is correct. And incredibly humbling when I hear that over.
Conor: [26:13-26:29] Yeah, I'll try to emphasize too much here then. So I know, being the developers are obviously getting their information, a lot of places these days, people who want to break into the element artists, well, you become the one of the go to Resources. Are there questions, the developer experience, they are coming up a lot for you?
Masha: [26:30-27:16] Oh, there's so many questions, honestly, it really depends on the their stage of their developer journey. Because I get questions from people who are starting out, the typical questions are what is the best programming language to start with? What's the best computer for programming because a lot of people use the technology that they have as an excuse to delay their learning progress. What is the best course so many different ones, and then further down the line, it's all about navigating your career, how to transition into a different niche, how to transfer your skills, and how to communicate that how to negotiate their salary, how to approach, you know, promotion conversations, and all that stuff.
Conor: [27:17-27:26] Are there common mistakes that you see companies making, as they try to recruit developers either, like not being transparent enough or focusing on the wrong things?
Masha: [27:27-28:23] Yeah. Honestly, most of the feedback and negative feedback that I've heard from developers who are going through interview process, are the fact that the interviews are long, right, you're kind of venturing into this world of unknown committing so many hours of your life. And sometimes you just never hear back, there's the lack of communication, the process drags on, and on and on. And it can be, you know, not just the time commitment. But it could also be, you don't hear from the company for so long, because the process is poorly organized, or they're reviewing all their candidates, all of that stuff. A lot of people that I've talked to got discouraged from the way they were treated during the interview process, because it was long, it didn't respect their time. And it was just lacking communication. And they saw it as a reflection of what the company will be like when they are on the inside.
Conor: [28:24-28:32] Yeah, I think that's very valid to consider. Are there methods that companies should be using to recruit developers that they're not currently?
Masha: [28:33-28:43] This is an interesting question, because I've recently I've been thinking about this a lot. And I, unfortunately, don't have a good solution for it for this. I don't have a method. However, I-
Conor: [28:43-28:44] You can’t solve the whole problem?
Masha: [28:45-29:21] I know, I know. I’m sorry. But one thing that I think companies and recruiters should be looking at solving is the fact that there's so many self-taught people in this industry, and so many brilliant self-taught people that they want to hire. However, the fact that they require a degree or something like that may stop them from recruiting these people. So how do we identify that talent among self-taught developers? That is an interesting question that I don't know, I don't have a solution for.
Conor: [29:22-29:28] On the other side of things. Are there common reasons that you hear from developers though, why they would turn down an opportunity?
Masha: [29:29-30:37] Yes, I have heard a bunch of people turning down opportunities and the reasons were, well, you know, the lack of flexibility. Now a lot of people kind of almost expect flexibility. Absolutely. And rightfully so. We have the technology to do that. And if anything to work does not require a lot of people to be in office at all times. And you know, flexible work hours is another thing. A lot of thoughts. Don't want to impact them here right now because I want to-to others or other things. But other things that I've seen is, you know, they're not inspired by the product. They're not, they don't see growth opportunities for themselves, or they suspect that it's going to be a toxic work environment. And sometimes they discover that through the interview process, and it's just something that they don't want to get involved in, because they respect themselves enough at this point, they understand their value, that they are not going to, you know, sell themselves short for something for an environment for a job that is not going to serve them.
Conor: [30:38-31:04] I think that's a really important consideration there. Will that job actually serve me? Because it's a reciprocal exchange? And whether it's around compensation or the fact that your mental health or, you know, along? Can you talk about the remote piece? They're-they're important considerations? Are there small things that employers can do to try to make a more positive impact? And hopefully a positive impression on prospective engineers?
Masha: [31:05-31:06] During the interview process?
Conor: [31:07-31:14] Yeah. Or maybe with the content they produce? Or like, is there something you'd want to see on a team's website? Basically, oh, this was probably a good team.
Masha: [31:15-32:59] Yeah, for the team's website. In particular, this is something that I have been thinking about as a prospective candidate, I want to see what the team is like, you know, what it what does it look like on the inside. And so, showing sneak peeks. I've seen some recruiting websites do that. They show sneak peeks of team events, and they interview certain people on the team. And it gives you kind of an insight of what it would be like to work here. Because even from their body language, even from the way they are dressed, you can kind of see what the even, you know, just put it on mute, right, because it might have been scripted, put it on mute, you can still see what the culture is like, based on the way they're dressed body language, etc. So that's, I think that would be very helpful in terms of providing transparency, and essentially helping candidates self-select if this is an environment that they want to be part of. When it comes to the interviews, communication, communication is key. I used to work at Google and my interview for Google was, the process was super smooth, because I always had a person that I could contact, that was my, you know, direct contact in the organization, who kind of took me through this process. And it was such a great experience. And I want many more companies to employ that method, it might not be the same person. But you know, it helps when it is the same person just taking you through, you know, holding your hand throughout this whole process. Even if it is dragging along, they can create expectation, they can make it a much better user experience.
Conor: [33:00-33:12] I think that's very well said, let's say you managed to recruit the developers, you nailed those hires really excited about it, how do you keep them motivated and committed and happy once they're actually within the organization?
Masha: [33:13-34:19] I've been doing a bunch of interviews with female developers. And the common theme that I've seen among them is, there's a difference between liking the product and being excited about what you're building long term and the vision, and also the day to day growth. So day to day growth day to day challenges, the almost are more important than the overall vision. Yes, people do want to work on a product that they believe in, and that they want to be, you know, part of that solution. But they also want to be growing every single day. So what companies in my opinion, what companies can do is provide those growth opportunities, make sure that they on an individual level, look at their employees and see, okay, what is going to challenge them? How do we optimize this experience for them so that they do feel like they're being challenged, they're learning something new. It's not just sure there needs to be, you know, day to day activities and things like that. There will be repeating processes however, how can we enhance that experience, maybe with a 20% project or something like that, so that they don't feel stagnant so that they feel like they're learning so that they feel like they're not wasting their time, day to day.
Conor: [34:30-35:02] Yes, it's really easy to over optimize on. This is what the business lead needs. This is what we need do for the products. That's what we need for our customers and ignore employee needs. And not think about, you know, what does my team need to grow? What am I team really enjoy doing? Right? Like often we have people who are very good at something they don't necessarily enjoy? And I think you're spot on. So that makes sense. You're hearing better interviews. Are there things engineering leaders can do that devs will respond to positively Promise, you know, the trades, they're looking for a leader.
Masha: [35:03-35:47] I feel like the trait vulnerability is honestly key. And of course there-there needs to be a balance right of vulnerability versus showing skills and showing why they're at the position they're at. But vulnerability is key and admitting to the fact that they don't know everything admitting to the fact that they have hired a team for a reason. Because these are the teams that have experts, and some of them may have more expertise on a certain topic, then the leader fishers elves, they should exactly that's the whole point of building a good team. So vulnerability, but also, of course, showing their expertise through action, not through words.
Conor: [35:48-35:52] Are there common pitfalls or mistakes that you hear engineering leaders making?
Masha: [35:53-36:16] Yeah, a lot of them have a big ego. And that ego prevents them from saying, I don't know, from keeping up with what's going on in the world, from truly understanding and empathizing with what their team is going through the challenges they're facing. And that just ends up being a toxic environment.
Conor: [36:17-36:37] Are there common reasons that you think developers are moving on? Like, obviously, there's this whole idea about the great resignation, and people are leaving roles, sometimes it's for, you know, wanting distributed workforce purposes, sometimes it's for pay compensation. But what are the common reasons that you hear in your conversations vote, when developers, whether they're more senior or newer, are looking for other jobs.
Masha: [36:38-38:04] I feel like it all goes back to developers understanding their worth, and understanding that the dynamics of the employer employee relationships are just shifting, and that it has to be a mutual fit. They're not tied up to a role, where the I remember my parents telling me that once you choose a profession, you're just going to stay in it. And like, make sure you become an expert in that field, which is great to become an expert in your field, but the world has changed, you don't have to be in the same profession, quote, unquote, forever and ever and ever. And a lot of people are understanding that they're free to go, if they're not happy, they're free to find a better fit, they're free to find a company that will value them for what they're worth. And also, that will support the life choices that they're making, whether it's remote work, whether it's starting a family, whatever those choices, may be companies are, you know, there are a lot of companies that are doing much more than previously, to support that, and to help people work to not live to work, but work to live, you know, like the job, your life, it's not all around your job. You know, the job is not at the center of your life, but your life is in the center. And the job is supporting that, if that makes sense.
Conor: [38:04-38:35] It does. I really appreciate this conversation, Marsha, this has been wonderful. And I think you've got some deep insights. And I'm excited for you to share with our inner packed audience in April. And I'm so glad you could come on the podcast. Do you have any like, maybe for-for an engineering leader? Or maybe for a developer listening? Who's new in their career or thinking about that next change? Or maybe not considering their own work? Like we talked about? Are there any like a couple of just key piece of advice you'd give them?
Masha: [38:36-39:31] Yeah, step number one is reflecting on what you want from life. And you know, whether you do it through an ideal day in the life exercise, or just reflecting on where you want to be where you want to get to, and this may change, but for now, what do you feel like success looks like to you, and that should be your compass. Of course, different people are starting from different positions, you know, like, and I'm just coming back to the Maslow Pyramid of needs. And some people are still thinking about putting food on their table, in which case, yes, just start learning the skills that are the easiest right now so that you can start putting that food on the table so that you can progress through the Maslow Pyramid of needs. And you can reflect on what is it that you want from life? What is it that will make you happy on a day-to-day basis? So that’s-
Conor: [39:31-39:33] Lifestyle personalization. Yeah, totally.
Masha: [39:33-40:24] Exactly, exactly. Because we can only start thinking about that, once you know, the bases are covered. Once we have food, shelter, community, all those things, and then in parallel to that, make sure that you're reminding yourself of what you're achieving and don't let the imposter syndrome don't let that the voice of doubt in your head overrule that. I'm currently reading this book called the imposter Sure, and it's wonderful for anyone who is experiencing those feelings because we all do, we'll do we'll feel like imposters, it's normal. But find ways in which you can reinforce your feeling of self-worth because it's very important and if you don't do this exercise, nobody will follow you and people will take advantage of you if you don't know your worth. So those are my pieces of advice.
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Conor: [40:25-40:36] I love it, Masha. This has been really wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today on dev interrupted and we're excited to do to involve you in our community and can't wait to see what you're doing with stereotype breakers, thank you so much.
Masha: [40:37-40:40] Likewise, Connor, thank you so much for having me.
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