Conversations #88: Women Who Code’s New Member Experience
Joey Rosenberg, President of Product and Communications, sits down with Jodi Loar, Senior Manager of User Happiness and Job Board Product Owner, and Anna Shur-Wilson, Program Manager, all at Women Who Code. They discuss the new Women Who Code digital member experience and share how you can get the most out of your Women Who Code membership so that you can keep leveling up in your tech career.
AS: Joey, can you tell us a little bit about how we got here? How did the new website come about?
JR: The new member experience has been a journey for Women Who Code. We've been evolving our website over the last decade. When you attend a Women Who Code event in our community or join a digital conference, there's all this phenomenal energy. You got to meet cool people, hear great talks, and find great coding resources to learn a new language or about job opportunities. When you went to the website, it wasn't as obvious. It didn't feel the same. We started talking to our community about what they wanted from a digital member experience and what they valued most about their Women Who Code membership. We discovered that it was almost a happy accident if you could find everything you needed, even though they were out there. One of the things that stood out to us was that members valued seven key benefits in building out their network and leveling up in tech. We wanted to ensure those were prominent on the website, so we started building out a member dashboard. One of the things we did was build an exclusive member portal, and we've added three top benefits to it.
We started with events, resources, and job opportunities. Those were the top three most common things we heard people needed. We will be adding to that dashboard over time ways to connect with other members, ways to give back to Women Who Code and support the movement, conferences, and access to conferences beyond Women Who Code in the broader industry. We will also offer scholarships for people transitioning into tech or learning a new language. We're excited to be building out that dashboard. Right now, it helps with finding the networks and tracks that are most valuable to you and finding events that match your specific technical interest, location, and job search preferences. It helps you to customize your Women Who Code experience.
One of the things we talked about over time was design accessibility. One of the things that we did in the last couple of years was to rebrand the Women Who Code. Teal is Women Who Code. It's always been part of the fabric of Women Who Code. We added in all these other things. We added in movement, these sorts of graffiti swipes and kinetic dots, and all these different things for movement. We also added vibrant colors, some of which give a nod to the terminal. We did a few things with our color palette, but we also discovered that if you don't put those together correctly, it can be difficult from an accessibility perspective. In everything we've done on the website, we took an accessibility lens regarding font size, color combinations, and how we put things together to be more accessible for screen readers and user experience. As you're exploring the website, we're also open to feedback. We want to make sure that it's built for our community.
Jodi, what's your favorite part of the new brand, and how it shows up on the website?
JL: I love the colors. It's so exciting. If you're out in the community now that we have all of these new colors, we have new swag that's in color, so you see this bright rainbow of Women Who Code is represented all over the place.
JR: Evolution is central to Women Who Code and tech is always changing. One of the things that we added a few years ago is the Women Who Code Career Nav. Anna, you lead that. What would you tell a technologist wondering how to manage their career?
AS: Your career is about luck being in the right place at the right time, but luck favors the prepared. I think that mirrors how tech is in itself. You have to be flexible, and you have to be willing to grab new opportunities when you can. You must have a basic understanding, skill set, and technical acumen.
JR: How is Career Nav woven into the new member experience dashboard?
AS: It is infused in a lot of our programming, even outside of the strict career navigation track. You have the ability to personalize your profile in your career area more than just what technologies you're interested in. There are also things like remote or not remote, open to relocation, and you can add to your website. Career navigation is an inherently flexible and personal journey. The site responds well to you using it and creating your own experience.
JR: How do you think having a tool like this will impact people's career journeys?
AS: There are big things and small things. A small thing is the ability to use keywords and filtering. It can focus you better. One cool thing about being with the code member is that you can have a chance to speak or give a workshop almost immediately. You can see where the volunteer opportunities are if you have all of our resources at your fingertips.
JR: If you were putting together Anna's secret menu, what would be the key features that people should use and that can help their career search?
AS: The job board's other important features are the resources that can help you ask for advice, and I like being able to save events, being able to look at everything, save every event, and then go back and make your schedule and register is helpful because you can see the entire landscape and narrow it down slightly.
JR: With the personalization tools built into the dashboard, how do you think this improves connecting with other members? We know that's valuable for our community.
AS: It goes back to events. With our major events like the CONNECT Conference, we encourage people to fill out their profiles. It's a nice exercise to re-evaluate your priorities and what parts of yourself you are eager to share with this community. It helps you define your role in the community as well. It's nice prep work. We have returned to in-person events all over the world. We still have a very robust online presence and online event presence. We have a YouTube page and are working on connecting those video resources to our resource page.
JR: Resources were the most visited page, even on our old website, before they were front and center. We hear from our members that resources are valuable, particularly because tech is such a learning industry, so you're always learning. Throughout your career, there's always something new to learn. There's always something coming out. There's always a way you can improve a process. You can always go deeper into a language that you're currently working in. Those resources provide such great information. Is there anything else you wanted to share about resources that you think our members should know?
AS: The resource page in the new member experience is vital. Another area we're working on now is how to combine the scholarships and ticket opportunities into our experience. It is currently not there, but if you click on the Women Who Code icon, you can access both our opportunities and the blogs our members write. The scholarship and ticket areas are very important resources for everybody. That's a huge part of my job, talking to people who support our mission and want to donate spots or discounts specifically to our community. Sometimes, that looks like one or two free in-person tickets to an open-source conference in Barcelona or a full boot camp program.
JR: If members are thinking, how do I join the Career Nav Track to ensure I get all of these things, how do they do it?
AS: The best way for a member to join the Career Nav Track is to join the member experience. You can put career navigation as one of your interests, and that will start populating any events and things like that. The main area where our events and programs lie is in the career navigation newsletter, which comes out once a week. Anytime we have an announcement for the career nav community, whether it's a program or a special event, that's where it is. The newsletter is the main area that people should check out to learn more about the programs.
JR: Jodi, with the recent recession and tech layoffs, there are still a lot of great jobs out there. The whole job search can be overwhelming. Can you give some advice to people? What was the idea of the Women Who Code job board? What makes it unique to our community? What should they know to help this process be slightly less overwhelming?
JL: Job searching is one of those things that can be stressful. We kept that in mind when we were doing the new member experience. There have been tech layoffs, but it creates a unique opportunity for our community. Companies can get those jobs in front of our members without fighting for a spot as they might have to be on a larger board. When we created the job board, we interviewed engineers to find exactly what they wanted. If you look at a larger job board, for example, you may see a lot of unnecessary information that makes it so that you might not want to read through the whole job posting. It also might make it so overwhelming that you find yourself self-eliminating. We provide companies with a clear outline of what they need to be letting you know about, what the job is, what you'll be doing, three to five stack items max that will be used, and what the hiring process is like. We tell them everything else they can tell you during the interview process. We like to tell them to keep it concise so that you can know from the start when you look at that job posting whether it will be a good fit.
JR: What are some of the most exciting features Women Who Code members can leverage for their job search? This is the Jodi secret menu. Tell us about the best features for the job board.
JL: One of my favorite features is the ability to save your favorite jobs. On our previous job board, the search function was slightly more limited. We revamped the whole search feature so job seekers can now search by expertise level, whether you only want to look at remote jobs or by stack items. You can be presented with jobs that fit. We also refined the design a little bit. Our list of jobs is ever-present when you're looking at a specific job. You can quickly compare and contrast to see what's a good fit.
JR: How can job seekers make the most of the job board using the dashboard? Is there anything else you want to add to that?
JL: Customize your profile. Go in there, fill out your profile, and then you'll be presented with these magical jobs that will fit your criteria. It’s such an incredible way to find that perfect fit. Always apply; don't talk yourself out of it. Women like to sometimes talk themselves out of applying for jobs because they don't feel like they're qualified. That's part of what we try to teach companies about, that part of keep it concise and small and short so that I'm not looking at the job board saying, oh, I'm an expert in like three of these things, but this one thing I'm not an expert in, so I'm just not going to apply. We think that you need to understand that companies may be picking out of a hat, like, oh, it would be great if they had this and this and this, when in actuality, it's just really this one thing they want.
JR: What new ways can companies interact with the job board?
JL: If you're a member growing your team, put your best jobs out there. A lot of companies are hiring literally for hundreds of jobs. Pick those roles you can get in front of our 342,000 members and let your company shine. The job posting is very concise. There's not a lot of space for you to put a lot of things, but we tell companies anybody can look up and see that your company makes mop buckets. Not everybody can see that you won Company of the Year in 2022 or the Best Places to Work remotely. Use that space to show how you are aligned with our mission and why somebody would want to come and work for you. We have over 600,000 followers on social media. We can get your job in our career nav newsletter, as well. Only put the necessary things, and importantly, align with our mission to inspire women to excel in technology careers. If you have a senior-level job that you want to hire, consider hiring a mid-level engineer and let them grow with your company. That is the way to help somebody excel.
JR: Go to Womenwhocode.com and hit the join button. When you join, it will ask you to confirm your email and undergo a welcome onboarding process. It's about ten questions. I recommend that you answer those questions because they're asking you about your technical stacks, preferences, location, and job search preferences. That's what will help our recommendations engine customize your dashboard to be the most relevant and unique for you. If you want to, you can add your photo, website, social media links, and things like that to your profile. It will ask you which networks and tracks you want to join. If you want to go back and change anything in your profile at any time, you can open that hamburger menu on the dashboard, hit settings, and update your profile. Make sure you visit the job board at womenwhocode.com/jobs.
What's your pro tip? What's your best advice?
AS: Career navigation will take different identities through different phases in your career. Everything about career navigation is figuring out what your motivations are and sticking with them. Is it learning? Is it earning? Embrace that and get excited about it.
Guest: Joey Rosenberg, President of Product and Communications, WWCode
Guest: Jodi Loar, Senior Manager of User Happiness and Job Board Product Owner, WWCode
Guest: Anna Shur-Wilson, Program Manager, all at WWCode
Producer: Kimberly Jacobs, Senior Communications Manager at Women Who Code