Today, Rebecca Garcia is a product manager. But that wasn’t always the case.
From a young age, Rebecca started with a curiosity in coding because of Neopets, an online game from the 1990s. When she left college, she got a Product Management Certification from General Assembly and took a course from the founders of Flatiron Academy on Skillshare (back when they did in-person classes).
Since then, she’s spent over 7 years working in various technical roles at startups and big-name companies like Microsoft and Squarespace. Even more, she co-founded a nonprofit that teaches kids to code and has even gotten paid to speak at conferences around the world. Today, Rebecca coaches people in the tech industry to help them build six-figure careers.
In this episode, Rebecca talks about her career and the opportunities she’s had across different companies. She offers her take on education, including tips that helped develop her career and advice regarding imposter syndrome.
Rebecca also shares advice to help you build your technical resume, even if you don’t have a technical background or are just getting started. Lastly, she offers notes on what to do with your resume during this pandemic.
This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.
Laurence Bradford 0:09
Hey, and welcome to another episode of The Learn to Code With Me podcast. I'm your host Laurence Bradford.
Laurence Bradford 0:17
Before we get into today's episode, I wanted to share something special with you. If you're listening to this episode around the time that it goes live, we are right around the corner from our Learn to Code With Me annual bundle sale. It's called the ultimate tech career toolbox. We only do the sale once a year. So it's a really big deal when we do it. Basically, we collect coding and other technical online products from top notch course creators in the space. This year we actually have 33 different products and online courses. Here's the catch though. The sale only goes on for five days only. But during that time, you can get all these courses for Basically the price of one. This year, the sale is happening from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26. And you can find out more at learntocodewith.me/toolbox2020. Again, the URL is learntocodewith.me/toolbox2020.
In fact, today's podcast guest is actually one of the bundle contributors. Her name is Rebecca Garcia. And Rebecca Garcia has an awesome story. After deciding to leave college early, she taught herself how to code and soon after landed a job as a developer. She has spent seven years working in various technical roles at startups and big name companies alike. She's actually worked at companies like Microsoft and Squarespace. Even more than that. She actually co founded a nonprofit that teaches kids how to code and she even has gotten paid to travel to speak at events all around the world. Her story's awesome. Nowadays, she helps others get careers in the tech industry through one on one coaching and online courses that she creates. And one of them is in our ultimate tech career toolbox bundle sale. All right, let's get into Rebecca's interview.
Laurence Bradford 2:27
Hey, Rebecca, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Rebecca Garcia 2:29
Thanks so much for having me excited to be here.
Laurence Bradford 2:32
Yeah, I'm really excited to talk to you today. And I just want to dive into things. You don't have a degree in computer science. So how did you first get introduced to coding and then eventually product management?
Rebecca Garcia 2:46
So the way that I actually got into technology was when I was little I around 11 or 12. You know, I started learning to code through this site called Neopets. I'm sure you've had a couple of guests who have also had their start that way. And I was copying and pasting a lot of HTML and CSS and kind of learning the basics that way. And I didn't think anything of it at the time. And I didn't have any role models per se to look to or think about, you know, there's a career out there for me in tech. And my sister actually saw like, Hey, I think you're really good at this technology thing. And I kind of dragged my feet. And as I was, I think around 14 or 15 or so she, I like to call it indentured servitude, of babysitting. She actually paid for me to go to a computer program at MIT. I call it very fondly computer nerd camp. And it unlocked for me this idea that, you know, I didn't have to be good at math, that technology could be fun and creative. And at the time, I thought I wanted to be a video game developer and I learned that that's not what I wanted to do, but I was so glad that I learned it at an early Ah, and that just continued that love of learning through technology for me. And once that kind of piece was unlocked, you know, it was something I continued doing. And when I went off to college Actually, I didn't think of majoring in computer science because I started looking at the curriculum for computer science. And I realized that I'd already been teaching myself web development, and I wasn't as interested in more of the algorithms and the back end stuff at the time and there wasn't as many relevant classes. So I made the conscious decision not to major in computer science and I actually went in undeclared took, you know, a handful of classes thinking maybe I would major in political science, I ended up diving into business management, I got introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship and that really excited me and so while I had been continually in the background kind of developing these, you know, self taught coding skills and not really sure what I wanted to do with it, you know, I'd built some websites for fun made them for friends. You Maybe made stuff for friends and family. And ultimately, I realized I wanted to combine my sort of like love of learning through technology and helping people I knew at an earlier age that I wanted to help people. But I wasn't sure how to combine those two. And I ended up pausing school and deciding to get my first job as a developer taking the self taught coding skills I had and doing after doing contract and freelance work. And I landed my first job as a developer at a nonprofit. And that role allowed me to combine those things like I mentioned, helping people and technology and it was so much more engaging than the college classes I had been taking. And I really felt like that's where I was able to step into, you know, me defining my own career in technology. So that was sort of my my entryway into tech.
Laurence Bradford 5:55
Yeah. Wow. That is so that's such an interesting story and Have a few follow up questions with that. Did you ever end up finishing college? So it sounds like you left kind of early? Like, how much college Have you gone through at that point? And did you ever go back?
Rebecca Garcia 6:11
That's a good question. So the other piece of that story is, and being completely transparent. It's taken me many years to start to tell this other piece of my story that at the time, I wasn't really feeling engaged in classes, I was doing okay, academically, but not amazing. And I would say, growing up, I also would say, I was like a, an A minus student, you know, there were some classes I excelled in, I actually did really struggle with math growing up, and I later realized, you know, I had a DD or you know, ADHD, and that contributed to a little bit of it. So dealing with that dealing with some mental health stuff at the time, you know, for me, to take that step away from college was was a big deal. And I'm really lucky that my parents were able to support the decision that I do. decided, Hey, I'm going to PA school, maybe I'll finish school part time, right now I want to get a job I want to work. And they supported that part of my decision. And it kind of it's kind of a thing that I've had on pause for a while and not because I don't value education. I'm a huge, huge advocate for STEM education, that for people that feel it's the right environment that they can succeed. And I'd say go for it. And I think if I had had the option at the time for coding boot camp, I would have loved to do a coding boot camp, but there weren't really any around at the time. But to answer your question, I actually didn't finish my degree. But in the last few years, I actually did a fellowship at Columbia University in entrepreneurship. So that kind of like, rounded me out a little bit there. I've also done product management certification at General Assembly. So I've done a few other things to kind of boost myself up in that sense. And, yeah, there have been a coding boot camp. I would love to have taken it but what I did actually take was one of the cofounders of flutter in school had a course on Skillshare when Skillshare used to have in person classes, and I took a couple weeks program for Ruby. And that actually became the basis for Flatiron School. So it was kind of fun to take to take a coding bootcamp class before coding boot camps came around in a way.
Laurence Bradford 8:20
Wow, I didn't even realize that Skillshare used to have in person classes. That's really that's really neat, though. And like what I mean, when evolution that company went through to write their huge Now, obviously, tons of online classes and a number of different areas. That's really neat. So there's so many people I speak to on the show and just in life in general who don't finish college or they don't go at all, and I don't think it's, you know, necessity nowadays in 2020 to have a four year degree, but I am curious again, just like how far along were you when you left like were you halfway through were you like three fourths of the way through, were you only one year through? Because I can't I'm just curious, like, how close were you to actually like finishing? Yeah,
Rebecca Garcia 9:08
so I was two years into college into undergrad. And I also had a lot of student loan debt from it, if I'm being really honest, like, I made the conscious decision to go out of go to school out of state. So that brought up the additional costs, even with scholarships, and with grant money. You know, I was already in 20 $40,000 of student loan debt. And so it was like, Do I want another 20 $40,000 of student loan debt? Or could I go and get a job and do the opposite and not take on more debt? So yeah, so I was two years and said to myself, like, Hey, I'm not really enjoying this. What if I went to school part time? You know, I've toyed with a lot of ideas. And I think, like I said, I'm I'm a huge advocate for STEM education, if it's something that you really enjoy, but I don't think it's you know, necessity and honestly having Been a developer at different startups and companies, you know, not every single developer engineer has a CS degree. You know, I had really amazing colleagues who had history degrees, you know, bio degrees, so totally not, quote unquote, STEM related. So I don't think that should hold anybody back from feeling like, Oh, I don't belong or you know, I don't have that background.
Laurence Bradford 10:23
Yeah, definitely. And I
Laurence Bradford 10:24
just want to say like,
Laurence Bradford 10:26
I think you were super wise for your age, when you were 20. So I guess you'd mean you're 20 of the time if you were two years in seeing the debt that you had, making that choice not to move forward because you weren't really engaged. You weren't really enjoying it, because there's so many people who are taking student loans out who are going to, you know, expensive schools or not within their state or what have you and not really like thinking about it, and maybe in their mid 20s or late 20s. You know, they're still have all this debt to pay off and they're kind of dealing with the consequences. Later, this is a whole separate conversation. I don't want to go down a rabbit hole, but I feel like it's so hard when you're 18. And you're going to college to really like wrap your head around how much it costs. And like that these students, if you are a person who takes out student loans, I know not everyone does. But if you do that, like these loans will follow you, you know, like, it's, it's just, I think, when I was 18, like, I didn't have like, the mental capacity to fully understand some of these things, you know, like, they don't teach us like personal finance in snow. So it's like, you're 18 here's all this, you know, here's a student loan debt. It's our golf on a 10. It's crazy, though, because you have to be 21 to buy alcohol. There's all these processes to go through, which is to buy firearms, which is good. And you know, you can't even I think rent a car until you're 25 you can get $100,000 of student loan debt or student loan student loans when you're when you're 18.
Rebecca Garcia 11:56
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. I didn't know what I wanted to Do and I think for me the best way to learn what I wanted to do and this is kind of my advice for anybody figuring out what they want to do in their tech career is I got to learn by doing and I say that before even I got my first job as a developer, I started doing contract freelance, we're kind of dipping our toes in the water and, and being able to see that like, Hey, this is what I like. And then even then, I later on, you know, we kind of alluded to, like I've made shifts in my career and so try things out. That's the beauty of tech is you don't need you don't need a fancy degree to get started. You don't need you know, you don't have to pass a board exam to become a developer.
Laurence Bradford 12:38
Yeah, hundred percent. I love that. And I would like to talk a bit about some of the twists and turns that you took in your journey because if you got Okay, I'm just like thinking in my head. If you left college after two years around 20 you got your first job when you around 20 years old. Most people at that age are still in college. So you could have like a two year headstart on a lot of people. That were getting CS degrees or you know, pursuing other kinds of bachelor degrees. Yeah. How has it? How has it evolved over time?
Rebecca Garcia 13:11
Yeah, so it like you said, I, I do feel that it definitely gave me an advantage in terms of like, I had those two years of experience under my belt as a developer, instead of just graduating fresh, fresh, and then having to, like, go out and get work experience, you know, I had the work experience to build upon. And I think, for me, again, I learned so much by doing in that short span of time, you know, I think looking back at it, if somebody was like, oh, would you do it again? Would you go back would you finish school? Would you do this, do that? And it's like, the amazing things that happened to me in that short period of two years, you know, I so I turned 21 when I was at my first job, and I remember it because it was like, Ooh, I'm I can I'm legal. I can drink now.
Unknown Speaker 13:55
Rebecca Garcia 13:56
yeah, I definitely wouldn't trade it for anything because it gave Me, it gave me so much growing up to do. And then in that amount of time where I was no longer like, you know, I made the conscious decision to move to New York. I originally was in Boston for school and my family's from the suburbs and you know, in Long Island, and that helped me immensely to figure out what I wanted to do and who I was as a person. Sorry to get kind of deep, but it was like, yeah, it was so eye opening for me.
Laurence Bradford 14:27
Yeah, wow. And there was actually another guest that I had on the show a few seasons ago. I'm trying to remember the guest name. I'm going to find it later. And we'll have to link to in the show notes because he had a very similar experience to you, except more recently, so coding boot camps were around and the whole interview he talks about his decision to leave college to go to a coding boot camp instead. And then, when I interviewed him, he had already gone his first job after the coding boot camp and he wasn't 21 yet. I think he could have even been like 19 or something. And it was just really Interesting, especially for those who maybe are still in college, which I know a lot of the listeners aren't in college still it's their after college. But in case anyone's listening who happens to still be in college and thinking about if finishing the degrees right for them or not? Well, we'll make sure to include that. Anyhow, I'm glad you mentioned the where you grew up. Because when you said that you went to the MIT summer camp, I was wondering if that was near like, did you go there? Like he like slept there like a summer camp? Or was it close to your home?
Rebecca Garcia 15:30
That's a good question. So it's id Tech camps. And they have different locations at different universities during like the summer. And so I stayed with my sister who lives in Boston, and as I slept on her couch, and I babysat my niece in exchange for her paying for my my summer camp. And that experience actually made me go wow, I really like Boston as a city. I want to you know, go here for college and like that actually prompted me to also move away from home because my parents were basically like, Hey, if you, if you end up getting into one of the local universities, which I had even more, I would have been better financially and I would have had scholarship opportunities or like you're living at home and I was like, I don't want to live. I'm ready to be an adult. So despite the student loans, I am glad that it gave me the opportunity to start being an adult.
Laurence Bradford 16:20
Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I'm going to switch gears a little bit because there's this interesting point in your experience I want to talk about and it was when you started coderdojo, coderdojo, NYC. And I remember when I first started learning to code, seeing that online and it was a nonprofit that taught kids how to code, right. Could you talk a bit about that? And like how you started it?
Rebecca Garcia 16:45
Yeah. So the that kind of transition I mentioned about like, okay, getting my first job as a developer and thinking back on that summer program experience that I had, I wanted to volunteer. And so even though our nonprofit, I was Like, hey, I want to give back I want to teach, I want to do something. But I didn't want to teach at a summer program because that would imply I would be teaching full time. And that summer because I did that at the program as well. I went back and I taught at that program while I was in college. So that kind of like cemented my roots of like wanting to teach kids to code. And I started looking around, and there were maybe only a few nonprofits at the time that were teaching kids to code, but they all required a CS degree, or a very big time commitment of like, you're here every, you know, Thursday afternoon, during the entire school semester or for an entire year. And so it's like this really big commitment. And I happen to find out about this thing called coderdojo, which is a global movement of free coding clubs for kids. And ironically, it was actually founded by two people who also stopped out of formal education. So totally not against the idea again, of education. So it's this idea of like self teaching and self learning and encouraging that in kids and so essentially like, you know, a co Ed version of like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and I actually met my co founder through Twitter, back in the day I met him didn't turn out to be a serial killer. And so I was like, Okay, well, let's, let's just try this thing. You know, let's try this thing. Let's try hosting, like, you know, these these workshops or hostess club, you know, let's see what this is like. And it's just amazing how much it grew. So we were able to turn this little like, okay, we want to teach kids to code into events that ended up going from, you know, a couple of kids, you know, a couple volunteers to, you know, half day hackathon style events where kids could come in and pick a Learning Station and they can learn hardware, they can learn Python, they can learn an array of different things and kind of whatever their heart desires and give them that, you know, opportunity to kind of dig in deep to something where it's it was just amazing. To me, so we grew our events to essentially, I would say 100 120 people with like a waiting list of like, 100 kids and it was just really crazy to see how quickly it picked up. And I think giving kids that opportunity to learn at a younger age where it's not just oh, you know, go in get a STEM related CS degree or something, so that you'll have a good job, it's what are what are what is your passion? What is it that you're really interested in, and these kids normally sit in classrooms for, for you know, like, 40 minutes, 45 minutes per class an hour per class, and they are fully engaged for, you know, the, the two hours that they get to work on an app or they, you know, or website or something that they're passionate about. And for me, that's, that's the idea of success is that we're, you know, allowing them to explore their creativity and build things. So, so that's, that's the community nonprofit that I co founded, and we put it on pause last year when my co founder passed away but it's still there. In the sense that we still plan on, you know, running these really awesome workshops.
Laurence Bradford 20:05
Yeah, I'm, and again with the co founder I'm really sorry about that that was really sad and you know, unexpected. And it's nice to know, though, that you may still, you know, pick it up again, and it's still there and available for people in the future. And it's also awesome that you did it for so many years, because I feel like when I first came upon it, it was a while ago. And you were running these these workshops and these different events for kids while working full time and doing other stuff. And when you were just speaking like the your most recent work experience hasn't been related to nonprofits or working with kids. And I'm curious, like, how did doing that like, are the coderdojo help your career in ways maybe like unforeseen ways?
Rebecca Garcia 20:56
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So the you know, you can Think of it as like a passion project or something that's always kind of been running in the background. But really, it set me up for these invaluable skills that I developed, which were public speaking. So I started to do a lot more public speaking. In fact, I ended up doing paid public speaking, I traveled to because of my nonprofit work I was this is, you know, outside of my, for the most part outside of my, you know, day job work, I was able to travel the seven countries and, you know, speak at those different countries. So I always like to recommend that as like the side benefit of building your personal brand and doing public speaking. And, you know, I was able to travel and speak, I would say most notably, like I was able to do, the US State Department has a speaker program. And so I was able to travel to Kazakhstan and do a country wide multi city workshops on STEM education and entrepreneurship. And I did that in Pakistan as well. And you know, I love that. So Yeah, so the public speaking has always the public speaking was a really big part of it. The idea that I can manage large scale events, I know how to do sponsorships, I know how to do all these things that are otherwise outside of the scope of like a normal tech career. So I recommend that to people as if you have a passion project or you know, you get involved with a, you know, an organization or a club. It's such an amazing way to not only do those types of things, but to also make connections that i think you know, will help you not just in your career, but you know, I've made such good friends from my nonprofit work, which I wasn't expecting at all.
Laurence Bradford 22:35
Yeah, that's, that's amazing. And what sorry if you already said this, but what year did you start it?
Rebecca Garcia 22:42
So it was 2012? I think,
Laurence Bradford 22:45
Okay, that makes sense. Because I would have started learning in 2013 in during 2013 2014, googling a bunch looking for a bunch of events because I myself was trying to go to events in like the Greater New York City area. And I definitely remember seeing yours because it was just for kids. So I couldn't go.
Rebecca Garcia 23:06
But that was actually that was the side other benefit of it too was that the people that were volunteering and teaching weren't necessarily teachers. And I forgot to mention this, they they're not necessarily teachers. And we actually encourage people who are learning to code to come teach kids, because then it's such a good opportunity to like flex your skills, and, you know, hang out with hang out with cute kids. I don't know who they were just, they're just so fun and sweet, where they were like, just just as they were figuring out who they were and what they wanted to do. So,
Laurence Bradford 23:36
yeah. So all while this was going on, so this was he just said he started that in 2012. You've done a bunch beyond just a nonprofit like that's almost like its own career in itself. And then you've actually have like your whole other career. And you as you said, already, you were working as a developer and then you got into product management, right. Could you talk a bit about that.
Rebecca Garcia 24:01
Yeah. So one of my first jobs was as a developer at Squarespace. And while I was at Squarespace we grew just for like contacts, we grew from 250 to 500 people. So it was like, really cool to be at a startup at that time that, you know, was really taking off. And I was a developer evangelist. And so I spent half my time coding and I spent the other half of my time. I like to call it technical PR, so doing events and teaching. So that's actually kind of where some of my coderdojo stuff kind of fit in is the teaching the education part of things. So trying to get more developers onto a platform. And I realized that I had this inkling and an idea that I was like, I like coding for fun, but maybe I don't like doing it full time. And like, that's okay. Like, I still like being involved in technical things, technical projects, and I realized I wanted to be a part of like, bigger strategy type of stuff of like, what are we building? Why are we building this and you know, I think product management wasn't as prevalent at the time. And at Squarespace. It wasn't because there were no product managers when I started and this is we grew to 250 500 people with eventually only one product manager. And it wasn't till a year after you know that they started bringing on other product managers or bring on other product managers. So this idea of product manager was new. And I realized though I had been doing pieces of it. So in my job to get more developers onto the developer platform, I started doing, you know, customer interviews or your target market interviews, where I started, like, reaching out to the people that we thought were, you know, the most valuable people on our platform who are making lots of Squarespace sites. And when I started talking to them, I realized like, Hey, we're actually targeting the wrong people, like these are really great people, but they don't fit into the initial mold of what we thought, who these people were, who were, you know, building a platform. And so that got me introduced the idea of product management. So I realized I was like, This is what I really want to move towards. And so I moved into another role where I was Doing product management and this idea of, for anyone who's not familiar with product management, this intersection of like technology, so you know, building technical products, software, you know, apps, things like that, but then also figuring out well, what is it that like the business needs, you know, like you're thinking of the business. And then the other piece of that pie is like, what is the user experience? And how can we build things that are going to be beneficial, so not just beneficial to other people and give stuff away for free? But like, how can we sell this? How can we get more people to buy it? How can we, you know, kind of thinking of all those pieces. So for me, that was really interesting. So I, I started moving towards that. And the next role that I took on was actually a program management role at Microsoft. And so that tech education background, I managed a full time technical training program for underserved New Yorkers, but then I also started tinkering with more product management. And I did under doing the General Assembly's like search It program and product management to kind of round myself out a bit more and formalize some of the product management that I had been doing in little bits and pieces. And I often find that that's how a lot of people transition into product management is that they've done little bits and pieces of product management, or they're interested in the strategy side of things. And they want to be more involved in like some of the decision making.
Laurence Bradford 27:22
Yeah, wow, Rebecca, you've such an awesome story. And it's like so much experience in things packed into such a short time. It's extremely impressive. And I feel like we could talk about that for like hours. But I really want to talk about some of the stuff you're doing today because you're now helping people in their own tech career. You're a tech career coach, and you have different kinds of like, products and offerings and coaching that you do with people. I would love to hear like how you got into that and what that looks like.
Rebecca Garcia 27:53
Yeah, so while I made those transitions for myself, like I didn't really feel like I had guiding source of information, I think there's a lot of resources and materials out there on, you know, maybe tips on interviewing maybe tips on your resume. And I kind of had to figure out a lot of these things on my own. And I think one of those key pieces was also shaping my story. So like, we've heard little bits, and you know, we were talking about little bits and pieces of it, but how do you like refine that for whatever your next role is? And especially if you're transitioning into tech, how do you do that? And, you know, I used to be reached out to all the time to meet for coffee, you know, so a lot of young women would reach out to me and say, Hey, you know, can you meet for coffee? I was giving up my like, lunch breaks all the time as a developer and you know, meeting people and giving them advice. And then eventually I was like, Okay, what if I can actually turn these techniques and strategies that I've used myself and things that I've taught some other people and turn it into something that is not only sustainable for myself, but also going to allow people to take it further or take their careers further and so I moved moved into doing career coaching. And so this idea of career coaching isn't just like, okay, here's your resume, you're done, but like, how do you continue to develop your skills and give yourself a pathway, especially now in in tech, you know, you might only be at a company for, you know, a couple of years here a couple years there, how do you like craft a bigger pathway for yourself? So some of the things that I do, you know, besides kind of the the coaching, I think other, there's a big piece around imposter syndrome as well, which is something that I you know, I constantly work with people on, but I would say the big one of the bigger pieces that seems to be a stumbling block early on, especially his resumes. And so one of the things that I, you know, developed and you know, I'm really excited as a part of the tech career bundle is the six figure resume workshop. And so having a six figure tech resume, I think, meaning it's not just that you have a resume and it's done, but how does it really craft the narrative of where you're going and really stand out? And that's something I'm super, super excited that I hope people can get their hands on.
Laurence Bradford 30:04
Yeah. And we're so happy that you're taking part in that and have graciously offered this product of yours on resume writing to be part of it, because it is something that I think even if you're more experienced, whether you're like, brand new or more experienced resume writing can be really hard because it's, I mean, there's so much that goes into it, like how to craft your past experience for the relevant job that you're now applying for and all that. So actually, if you could give us like a few little tips about resume writing, that would be awesome. Like just like a few little quick bites.
Rebecca Garcia 30:41
Yeah, definitely. So some of the things that I talked about in the pre work for the workshop is the three secrets to a six figure tech resume and you know, those three secrets being readability you know, how easy is it to read your resume, a lot of times, people coming from other industries and half who have a lot of experience might think, oh, I've got to put in all of you know, all of the words and all of the phrases of like how important the work that I'm doing is, but it's like, if it's not easy to read, then it's going to be a lot harder for people to be able to understand it. And another big piece I talk about is robot friendliness. And what I mean by that is similar to the way Google search engine works, where it's looking for different keywords for companies there, they have their own system that kind of works like a search engine. And what it's doing is it's looking for keywords as well. So they're called applicant tracking systems. And so it's looking for keywords to match up your job to or the job that you're applying to to your resume. So, you know, we talked about how do you pick out the right keywords to include on your resume. And so, as I was going from developer to Product Manager, that was something I had to learn, which is like, how do I switch some of the keywords and how I'm framing some of my experience to be more relevant to product management. So that was the other piece and the third secret or third are Is relatability So how is it, you know, related to that role? So how do you again, how do you kind of like craft that narrative of like, how is your work experience related? So I've talked about those things. And then I go in depth in the workshop itself on like, here is how we go section by section and make sure that your resume aligns with those pieces. And no matter what type of role you're applying to, or you're interested in this will this will be applicable to you? And so yeah, so I'm so excited. I was able to put together that no workshop and that, you know, it's a product that you'll be able to get your hands on as a part of the bundle. And yeah, so how relatable is your experience to the role and if it's not the exact experience that's totally okay. It's how do you translate it? You know, is it robot friendly? What are the key words like and is it readable can like a human read it as well. So that's a definitely some of the key pieces to keep in mind.
Laurence Bradford 32:57
Yeah, when you were talking about readability, this phrase came into my mind, which is, if you confuse people, you lose people. So it's Yeah. So like just in that can go beyond a resume that can go with anything in life. If you confuse people with a bunch of, you know, information or hard to kind of follow stories and plots, you'll lose them. Right? They can't. Yeah, it won't be readable. Essentially. I have another question, because this is something that when I was applying for jobs, I did, but I just I just want to hear your thoughts. Since you're like an expert on this. What's your thought on doing a unique resume for every job you apply for? So essentially, that is, yeah, it is I would, I would do that. So I would have different resume versions, and then I would tweak it accordingly, depending on like where I was sending it off to.
Rebecca Garcia 33:48
I think that is a great idea with the I'll preface this with some of my methodology. So in the beginning, I tell people to focus on quantity instead of quality. So like, don't spend Three hours for every single every time you're sending your resume out, but exactly what you're saying, how can you get versions of your resume out and test them and see if they're getting responses? And so, if they're not getting responses, then you know, maybe it's something on your resume to tweak. If they're getting rejections, that means it's a little bit better. That means it's getting read by somebody. So then, okay, how do you take it a step further after that, so I think that is a really good piece of advice is to create, you know, two versions of your resume to start to test it. And if you are applying for, say, two different types of roles, or sort of sub roles, for example, Product Management, but then one resume for product management, and then well, one for mobile product management, you know, that has more specific experience for mobile product management. So if you can, ideally narrow it down to two types of roles, whether they're sort of similar related like that, or, you know, in my case, when I went from developer to Product Manager, I still kept myself open to both types of roles because I was like, Well, I don't know. You know, it's hard to you know, basically things off of a job description, you won't really know what a company's like until you're actually interviewing and talking to the hiring manager at the least. So keeping an open mind, I think is really important.
Laurence Bradford 35:10
Yeah, that's a good tip. And also what you said a bit ago about not spending three hours necessarily to apply to like, every single position. Yeah, that Yeah, that makes sense. So a few other like, I'm seeing rapid fire, but this isn't like technically rapid fire. I just want to get your advice on a few different things. And one of those is imposter syndrome. So you mentioned a bit ago that that's like an area you focus on a lot. What kind of tips do you have for someone who may be feeling that way?
Rebecca Garcia 35:44
Yeah, so one of the my favorite quotes is, don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle because it's really easy to look at the high level and say, Oh, this person looks like they had it all figured out. They have this traditional background, you know, and in reality, you know, your your career is, is a solo sport in a way, you know, oftentimes we're taught to base our self worth, or how you know how much money we can, you know, like money we can make, we're like looking at all these external factors when in fact that self confidence can really only come from within. And so if we're even just looking at the example of interviewing, and the reason I say quantity instead of quality is because you want to get on those phone screens and you for maybe for roles that you're not as interested in put yourself out there to, to get that experience of interviewing itself, you know, use those as practice interviewing, I think, you know, a lot of people are always like, oh, mock interviews, mock interviews, like mock interviews are nice, but what's really good is you know, when you put yourself out there and you start to get real world feedback, and then you start to realize you're like, hey, I've got this within myself. I it's not, you know, we're constantly I think looking for external things to validate ourselves when in fact, the only way we can validate ourselves and start to break through imposter syndrome. is when we are able to see that it's within us. And, you know, we kind of talked about my career journey and that story, you know that that how I made those transitions like, there, I can't ever say like, there was a time where I was like, I felt 110% and I knew like, I was going to get this job and whatever, like, I just knew to kind of bring my best self and know that, you know, if they valued me the way that you know, I'm really interested in their company, it was it was going to be a good fit, and it was going to be a good experience. And if it's not, then it's not there's the one mindset tip that I want people to keep in mind when they're going through rejection is like, instead of saying, like, Oh, that was my dream job. And that was the thing I really wanted and getting worked up about it, you know, is if it's not this one, then there's one even better for me, you know, whether that's a role whether whatever opportunity that is for you, because there is I can't, I can count, you know, countless of times that I dodged a bullet so to speak in terms of things that might have not been right for me not good opportunities, when in fact there was other ones out there. That We're even better.
Laurence Bradford 38:01
Yep, I can totally relate to that. And this next question could also be an entire episode in itself but I just would love to hear your thoughts on advice for people right now that are tech job hunting during this Coronavirus pandemic. situation we're finding ourselves in that no one
Rebecca Garcia 38:23
planned for totally Yeah, I think even now more than ever keeping an open mind to the types of roles that you're going to be seeing and applying and it's okay if you are taking a stepping stone type of role, you know, where it's not your dream role, but like what are the other things that you could gain out of that valuable experience whether that's like being able to work in the framework or the language that you're that you you know, are interested in or maybe that's, hey, I get to, you know, be in a different city or location or I get to try out this different industry. So think of it instead of trying to put all your eggs in one basket you know, going open minded with into A lot of roles and opportunities. And I think also keeping open minded to contract and freelance work as well. I think those are good options to build your portfolio gain experience and earn money, you know, in in the interim, while you figure out, you know, what is that next step for you? So you are you are in control of your future? Yes, the circumstances aren't great, but you have the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities and to put yourself out there. So don't be too discouraged by the the current situation. I think, you know, yes, especially if you've been impacted by it. I understand. It's, you know, a very, very hard time. And but I think at the same time, you know, there are companies that are still hiring tech is the best positioned industry to work remotely and to hire people and is so in that sense, yes, there are companies affected, but there are also companies that are hiring and you know, tech is a great industry to be in.
Laurence Bradford 39:51
Yeah, for sure. Definitely. So is there any final advice that you can share with listeners who are trying to break into tech
Rebecca Garcia 40:01
That's a good question. I guess we mentioned, you know, don't compare your beginning to other people's middle or Yes, I think I might have said my car house, in fact. But I think, you know, when it comes to imposter syndrome, I think don't let that be a label that is going to prevent you from taking action. I think the biggest piece of advice I have is take imperfect action, you know, you're not going to feel 100% and you know, you're always going to say, Oh, I wish I felt ready or, you know, maybe there's a better time out there for me, instead of thinking that think of what is the 1% that you can continue making yourself better by instead of trying to go to zero to 100 How can you just have a continual you know, improvement mindset of mindset of progress instead of feeling like oh, I'm not enough, I don't have enough skills or you know, this and that. So take imperfect action. And don't be afraid to Don't be afraid to ask for help. You know, I think amazing resources like this podcast and your blog are great places to start and start to get some of that support. So, yeah, I want to encourage people to you know, not not be afraid to fail. It's only a failure if you don't learn anything from it.
Laurence Bradford 41:17
That was great. Thank you for all those little tidbits. I love the take imperfect action. And as you said, instead of focusing on like, really big jumps forward, like 1% every day, because if you keep making little progress, you know, every single day, in a few years, it's going to amount to something really great and terrific. Anyhow, thank you so much, Rebecca, for coming on. Where can people find you online?
Rebecca Garcia 41:42
So thanks so much for having me and people can find me online on Instagram at Rebecca Garcia dot tech as well as my website Rebecca Garcia dot tech and on Twitter, Becca Garcia dot tech because there's a character limit.
Laurence Bradford 41:57
Awesome. Well, thank you again for coming on.
Rebecca Garcia 42:59
Thanks so much for having me!
Laurence Bradford 42:03
Thanks for listening today. If you missed anything or would like a recap, you can find the show notes at learntocodewith.me/podcast. If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the Search icon in the upper website navigation and search for the guests name. Now, if you're listening to this interview around the time that it airs, I want to tell you about something special that we're doing our annual bundle sale. This is also known as the ultimate tech career toolbox. This is the biggest thing that we do all year. for five days only you can get access to over 30 tech products which together amounts to be over $4,000 in for these five days, you can get all these products for a fraction of that. The sale is happening this year in 2020 from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26 When you invest in our 2020 bundle, you'll get access to a collection of products that can help you level up your coding skills and break into the tech industry. As a buyer from last year's bundle sale said, I was skeptical at first thousands of dollars in courses for hundreds of dollars sounded way too good to be true. But the ultimate tech career toolbox turned out to be the best way to save a whole bunch of time and spend a fraction of the price you would try to get all these courses separately. get notified when the sale opens up by signing up over at learntocodewith.me/toolbox2020. Again, the URL is learntocodewith.me/toolbox2020. All right, I'll see you next week.
Key Takeaways from Rebecca Garcia:
- You don’t need a computer science degree to make it in tech. Some of Rebecca’s colleagues had history degrees, bio degrees, or others that were not STEM-related. Click here to read more about the obstacles standing between you and your dream job in tech (+ how to beat them).
- Engaging in different activities can unlock your hidden potential. For Rebecca, working with kids led her to paid speaking events in multiple countries.
- Always explore your interests. When Rebecca was working for Squarespace, she felt herself wanting to get into product management, and she pursued that path.
- Be open to new opportunities with the things you find yourself doing and enjoying. After finding herself getting used to sacrificing her lunch breaks to give career advice, Rebecca went into coaching.
- Self-confidence can only come from within. Try not to seek external factors for self-validation.
Links and mentions from the episode:
- Rebecca Garcia’s website
- iD Tech Camps
- Flatiron School
- Rebecca Garcia on Instagram @rebeccagarcia.tech
- Rebecca Garcia on Twitter @beccagarciatech
Where to listen to the podcast
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The 2020 Ultimate Tech Career Toolbox
The biggest Learn to Code With Me event of the year is right around the corner — the 2020 Ultimate Tech Career Toolbox bundle sale. When you invest in our 2020 bundle – which includes a course from today’s guest, Rebecca Garcia – you’ll get access to a collection of products that can help you level up your coding skills and break into the tech industry.
And for five days only, you can get access to over 30 tech products, which together amounts to $4,000, for a fraction of the cost.
The sale is happening from Monday, June 22nd, 2020 – Friday, June 26th, 2020.
As a buyer from last year’s bundle sale says: “I was skeptical at first. Thousands of dollars in courses for hundreds of dollars sounded too good to be true…But the Ultimate Tech Career Toolbox turned out to be the best way to save a whole bunch of time and spend a fraction of the price you would trying to get all these courses separately.”
Get notified when the sale opens up by signing up at learntocodewith.me/toolbox2020.