Women Who Code Podcast 40 | Spotify - iTunes - Google - YouTube - Podcast PageSierra O'Bryan, Senior Software Engineer at Twitter and Mobile Leadership Fellow at Women Who Code, talks with Vui Nguyen, Senior iOS Consultant at Atomic Robot and Lead at Women Who Code. They discuss their experiences finding Women Who Code, becoming involved with the organization, stepping up to leadership roles, and how that has impacted their careers and lives. SO: How did you first find out about Women Who Code, how did you decide to join? VN: I first found out about Women Who Code in 2012 and joined as a member. I found out about the mobile track in late 2019, and I joined their Slack group then.SO: I was moving back to Cincinnati, coming back to square zero, not knowing a lot of people. I realized that networking and groups like this were going to be very important for growing my career as a junior engineer. I ended up going to a meeting for Women Who Code Cincinnati, but the time wasn't right to get very involved. Several years later, I was in a much better place and ready to get more involved in the community around me. My real introduction to Women Who Code was trying to re-launch our Cincinnati chapter. What inspired you to join your local chapter? VN: I've been a software engineer for over 20 years. There were not a lot of resources for women in tech when I started my career. Women Who Code, RailsBridge, Girl Develop It, and all these groups started coming out, and I decided to check it out. I wanted to be around other women technologists.SO: What have you done for Women Who Code? How have you been involved with the different chapters? VN: I am a volunteer Lead for the Boulder, Denver chapter, and also a volunteer lead for the mobile track. I've done lots of different volunteer activities, mostly centered around speaking at events, planning and running events and workshops, and moderating watch parties for Women Who Code conferences. I helped organize an open source workshop in early 2020. Over 100 people watched my talk and at least a couple dozen stayed behind for the hands-on workshop. They were able to contribute to an open-source repo that I built just for the workshop. Another impactful event that I organized for the mobile track was when I taught a couple of lightning talk workshops. I personally mentored about half a dozen members of the mobile track on technical speaking, and I hosted meetups where the members gave their talks. SO: That is so incredible. I feel like breaking into open source can be overwhelming. I dipped my toes into Women Who Code, then dove all the way in with relaunching the chapter here in Cincinnati. Some of the things that I worked on that I'm most proud of with this wonderful team are running our Cincinnati chapter and being faced with the really big challenge of launching a local community versus the mobile track during the pandemic.We also had a fun Hacktoberfest, which is one of my favorite events. We did, in September, an intro to GitHub to get everyone familiar with the tool. In October, we built out a bunch of different projects where you could contribute to a front-end, a mobile project, or a back-end project. Women Who Code was one of the first meet-ups that I got actively involved in. It was a way for me to gain a lot of confidence. I started hosting an Android study group on Friday afternoons where you could bring any Android topic. I would try to put together a practice project. We would get together on a Zoom call and talk it through. As that continued to go well, I started planning events and trying to help other folks kick off their events. We have fun social events where we get together and play games. All of these different things help our community grow.VN: I want to add to Sierra’s accomplishments that she's helped to build up the mobile track and built on the foundation that our previous fellows started. Our previous fellow Mackenzie Wong said that the mobile track Slack is like a daily group chat. We're always talking every day, we're close friends and we're supporting each other. Sierra has played such a big role in creating that.SO: I was wondering if you could tell us why you volunteer, and how you got involved in volunteering.VN: There was a gap between me joining as a member of Women Who Code and actually being an active volunteer. I used to run my own technical meet-up in the Denver area for Titanium. The majority of the people that attended were male. I believe that was the reason why a lot of people saw me as an organizer or an admin instead of the technical expert that I was.I did that for a couple of years. When the women tech groups started coming up in the Denver area, I started volunteering by speaking and running workshops. The audience was mostly women, and they were so appreciative of what I was doing. I was actually looked at as a technical expert. This was a community that I needed to serve, that I needed to be a part of. That's what helped me decide that volunteering for women tech groups, including Women Who Code, is what I should be doing. SO: I love Cincinnati, it might be a small Midwest town, but my family is here and I like it. Building community here was really important to me. Once I got involved with Women Who Code, it just made sense to continue to be more involved. I know women here in Cincinnati that I could go and get a coffee with or talk about opportunities in Cincinnati and these sorts of things. I also have this community where I can have technical discussions and find support to grow in my particular area of expertise.What are some of the benefits that you've experienced from volunteering? How has it helped your career? VN: Getting involved helps build relationships and a support system for yourself and others. It is important to have a safe space to connect with like-minded people. Being the only is a common experience for many women in tech. Volunteering has allowed me to build my leadership and technical skills in a safe space. Women Who Code is a very supportive environment for those that want to take risks and to really stretch themselves. I have found that doing these things has allowed me to build my confidence and my leadership skills. I've used those same skills to become a technical lead and a project lead at my previous jobs. The fact that I'm a Women Who Code lead and I've done all these community activities, including the technical speaking, has been seen as a positive when interviewing.SO: I hear from a lot of folks in the Women Who Code community about the benefits that it's brought to their career growth. The one that really resonates with me is just relationships, both personal and professional. It's important to have that support system that understands the problems of a woman in tech. There's space at Women Who Code for everyone. There are opportunities no matter where you are in your journey. Let’s talk about advice for folks who might be interested in getting started as a volunteer. My personal advice for anyone who's thinking about volunteering is really know your own priorities and what you hope to get out of volunteering. Spend some time thinking about what kind of areas that you might want to grow and how being a volunteer can help you reach those goals. Do you have any advice on balancing volunteering work-life, self-care, and how to avoid burnout when you're adding these extra things into an already busy life?VN: Don't feel like you have to take on the biggest tasks and don't feel like you have to do everything all the time. If you start to feel stress or burnout, it's okay to take a break or pause and play a small role. Don't feel like you have to be a superstar to make a difference. Just show up in any capacity that you can. You never know who you could touch by just being involved.SO: I don't think that you have to be a volunteer to benefit from our community, but it's definitely a bonus to get involved. Do you have any pro tips for working in tech that you want to share with our larger community? VN: Put yourself out there. If you've been thinking about publishing that app or writing that technical article, or giving that talk, go ahead and do it. It may be scary and you might think that it's not good enough, you never know who's looking up to you.SO: When you put yourself out there, tell our Women Who Code community about it. We absolutely want to be your cheerleaders and supporters and celebrate you. One of the most wonderful parts of being part of our Women Who Code community is the support that you receive. To find out more about all of our Women Who Code track communities, we do have six technical tracks, you can find information about all of those and find all the Slack communities womenwhocode.com/tracks. You can also find out about local networks that might be in your area by going to womenwhocode.com/networks.