Blog: 5 Lessons for Women in Technology Shared by a Google SRE

Portrait of Stephanie Hippo

Steph Hippo is an alumna of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and a Senior Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) and Manager at Google. She serves on the CWRU Women in Tech (WIT) Steering Committee, was part of the organization’s Spring 2019 Alumnae Panel and always takes time to mentor and share her knowledge, experience and wisdom with women who seek to enter or advance their careers in technology.

In this blog, Steph shares five lessons to help guide women as they pursue their career goals.

1. Be grateful – but recognize you’re great.

I feel like a lot of students think they're supposed to be just super grateful to have any job at all, and that they should just take the first offer that they get.

It's good to be grateful; but, you should recognize that your skills are in demand and employers are looking for people with skill sets like yours.

You do not have to take the first job offer that comes along. I know there's often a lot of pressure among students to do so. Especially as seniors or recent graduates – friends might already have job offers. Yet, don’t feel pressured to say “yes” to the first one that comes along. It’s important to leave your options open.

And when in discussions with a company, it's OK to ask for more time even if you are given a deadline. If that deadline won’t work for you, advocate for time you need and also share if other offers are on the table – letting them know you need to make the best decision for you. If it’s not a good fit, don’t be afraid to walk away.

2. Know your value

You should research different markets and different cities to know what job titles and positions are worth. That's one thing I wish I had done a better job of when I was initially job hunting.

There are lots of tools online for this research, and there are people that are willing to be an ally and share salary data with you and to let you know when something makes sense or does not. Then, you can really go from there. But as you transition from a student to joining the workforce, you'll have to continuing knowing your value throughout your career and consider what makes sense for you.

Advocate for yourself.

Put in your research.

Learn how to negotiate.

I recommend reading “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. This book will be helpful if you're just learning to negotiate, and remember: you won’t just be negotiating job offers; you'll be negotiating in whatever role you have for what projects get prioritized and what work comes your way.

3. Mentors can be one click or post away

I started following several women in the tech industry on Twitter during college, and it was one of the best things I've done. I've learned so much from that group. I have people that I would generally consider friends just meeting through social media. Additionally, Facebook and LinkedIn groups are great vehicles to help you get engaged and “meet” people from various backgrounds and different industry sectors. Twitter is one of the few avenues by which you have a direct line to a CEO or a staff engineer at a company where you want to work. There aren't too many places where you can engage like that, so take advantage of it. You'll learn so much that way.

Also, remember that, with these groups, people don’t always respond to a comment or message right away. If that happens, don’t take it personally—you can always try again. And if advice or suggestions are offered to you and you find it helpful, I recommend letting those individuals know that the provided guidance helped you—it means so much to people and they’ll want to continue share helpful information with you. It can be a great icebreaker if you say something like, “I read that blog post on this one technical problem and I really appreciated it. I just wanted to thank you.” That can be a great way to start a dialogue.


4. Take the initiative to market yourself

Let people know what you're doing as a student. I would try to post when the Hacker’s Society was running big events that people were invited to; or in advance of local talks or meetups. Doing so gave people a heads-up to look for us.

Share your work, share your perspectives, ask questions, and share things to be seen and create conversations. You could express your reaction to something tech-related that you read about, your experiences in tech or projects you’ve worked on that you’ve documented.

Pictures can also help tell your story. Take pictures of you in action, pictures of your work, or utilize other creative ways to share concepts and ideas.

5. Take the Due Credit

I had a wonderful mentor at Google who took a lot of time to try to make sure I was doing things like taking credit for my work or making sure I was being invited to meetings I was supposed to be in and just sticking up for myself.

Unfortunately, you will have some people that will try to dissuade you from doing that or perhaps tell you ridiculous things like, “You know, it’s bragging to put your name on this design document,” or, “You know, you're a junior engineer; why do you deserve credit for this project that's suddenly getting attention?” Hold your ground. Make sure that if you're doing good work, your name is attached to it and you're getting the recognition you deserve.


To hear more from Steph, please listen our podcast interview with her:

Episode 2: Interview with Steph Hippo, Senior Site Reliability Engineer and Manager at Google: (1/23/20) Steph Hippo shares insight into finding internships, the process of securing that first job, and experience about workplace environments.


Contributed by:

Steph Hippo
Alumna of Case Western Reserve University
CWRU WIT Initiative Steering Committee
Senior Site Reliability Engineer and Manager at Google

Michelle Burgess
Content Manager, CWRU WIT Initiative