Spotlight and Interview - Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators by Susanne Tedrick

Tech industry jobs are growing fast, offering great pay, career growth and learning opportunities. Women of color, sadly, have not been able to fully participate in this boom. 

Synopsis - 

There are many misconceptions about the tech industry. Misconceptions can often discourage women of color from pursuing or remaining in technical careers. For example, misconceptions like “tech careers are all about coding ”or “there’s no diversity in tech.”

In reality, tech career opportunities can be diverse, fun, and incredibly dynamic. While there are barriers to overcome, Women of Color in Tech is an indispensable resource for building a rewarding future in tech. Packed with inspiring stories and practical advice, this book shows you how to uncover the resources you need to succeed.

This practical guide will help you develop the blend of knowledge and skills needed for getting into tech—and staying there. Author Susanne Tedrick understands that, for a variety of reasons, young women of color are underrepresented in tech and may not have access to strong support networks or resources to be successful. Using her own experiences transitioning into tech, Susanne offers you real-world guidance on finding knowledgeable mentors, learning the latest industry trends, cultivating strong relationships and more.

If you’re thinking about going into tech, or you want to take your current career to the next level, Women of Color in Tech will help you build a blueprint for a successful career.

• Understand the reality of tech today, not misconceptions.
• Learn about the different tech jobs and opportunities that exist, not just coding.
• Gain an understanding of emerging technology areas that will affect jobs, like artificial intelligence, Blockchain and cloud computing.
• Discover traditional and non-traditional education option to get the skills you need.
• Find mentors, build your professional network and get the guidance you need.
• Stay motivated and deal with difficult situations.
• Recognize the importance of giving back to increase diversity and inclusion.

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Author Interview -

This is your first book, so would love to hear about your journey to becoming a writer/published author? Is this a dream you've had since childhood or one that came later in life?

It definitely came later! I was approached by an editor at Wiley to write the book largely based on my own experiences transitioning in the tech industry. When first approached, I wasn’t entirely sure that I had a story in me. After spending some time to reflect, I realized that I did have a wealth of information and experiences that would be helpful to others.

What inspired you to write Women in Color in Tech? What do you most hope readers will take away from it?
The book is inspired largely from my own experiences transitioning into the tech industry after having worked in administrative and operational roles within the financial services industry. My biggest hope is that readers, particularly women of color, come away knowing that a tech career is indeed a career field for them, and it is an industry that desperately needs their talents and skills now more than ever.

One you began writing, how did the process work for you? Did you schedule a set time every day or did you write when inspiration struck? What research did you need to do?

For the most part, I did have a schedule. I would write at about 4 AM – 7 AM most mornings, as it was the time of day that I knew that I’d have the least amount of interruptions and demands for my attention. This wasn’t always possible, as my job at the time I was writing required a lot of travel. Those days I would just write my thoughts or notes in a journal, and then incorporate them when I had the time.

I needed to do research on other tech professions, as I’m relatively new to tech myself, and to make sure that I wasn’t providing a one-dimensional view on the industry. I reached out to other women of color in my network for help, while others were referred to me and some reached out to me on their own.

What about the process to write and publish this book came easiest for you? What was the hardest to work through?

The hardest part was maintaining a balance between optimism and encouragement while providing candor on the difficulties of being a woman of color in an industry that is still struggling to be more diverse and inclusive. Many of the topics in the book I still encounter, and some days are tougher than others to maintain that positivity. While I strongly believe that tech offers wonderful career and personal development opportunities, and I’m happy with the choice I’ve made, I felt that I couldn’t, in good conscience, say that everything is “all good” and that the only obstacle for women of color is just getting the skills. It’s just not true and there is room for improvement.

The part that came easiest was talking about the different areas and fields in the tech industry. I had learned a great deal through work, study, networking and other engagements I’ve had over the past few years to be able to talk about all of the different options available.

I would love to hear more about your volunteer work with Black Girls Code. Please share a bit about the organization, their goals and how you are involved? Readers would also love to hear a bit about your work as a mentor for the Pathways in Technology Early College High School.

Black Girls Code is a wonderful nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching Black and African American girls (ages 7 – 17) technology skills. I assist with their hands-on workshops, which have been held in a variety of areas, like artificial intelligence, robotics, game design and digital manufacturing.

As a mentor for P-TECH, I help 11th grade students with preparing for college and potential careers. High school is a great time for exploration, but it can be confusing and overwhelming. To help, I talk with my mentees on their interests and skills, help them to explore potential careers, and coaching on resume writing, interviewing and developing their personal elevator pitches.

Work, mentoring, volunteering - you have a very full life. What do you like to do to walk away from it all and relax? How do you find a balance between your work life and your personal life? Do you have any passions you pursue just for you, or favorite books to read?

I purposefully schedule time in my schedule to relax and rest. It was a difficult thing for me to do at first, because I’d look at free chunks of time on my schedule and felt like those were opportunities where I could be doing something - anything! But in time, I realized that I was far more effective in my professional and volunteer work, and generally a more pleasant person to be around, when I had adequate sleep, down time and time with my family.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, I enjoyed taking long walks around the city, attending local theater, going to art and science museums and dining out. Being that I’ve been indoors much more, I’ve had some time to catch up on my reading. I primarily read a lot of business non-fiction books, but I do enjoy graphic novels and mythology. I recently read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and re-read The Love Bunglers. by Jaime Hernandez – both of which are fantastic. I’m also casual gamer, playing lots of popular role-playing games like Persona 5 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

What's next for you? Will there be any new books? Anything else you'd love to share with readers.

I plan to continue my community service work to increase the number of women and people of color in tech and furthering my own education. I’ll also be speaking at upcoming events like the Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W) National Conference for ChickTech, and the Boston Book Festival. While I don’t have plans for a new book now, I won’t rule out one in the future, if I believe that I can provide more guidance that can make a difference in someone’s career!

Meet The Author - 

Susanne Tedrick is a technical specialist for a Fortune 50 technology company. Fiercely committed to increasing participation of women and people of color in STEM educational and professional opportunities, she is a career mentor for the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) Initiative and a volunteer workshop technical assistant for Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that empowers girls of color to develop in-demand IT skills and prepare for careers in tech. Susanne was awarded the 2018 CompTIA AITP Rising Star of the Year Award, and nominated for the 2019 CompTIA Advancing Women in Technology Mentorship Guide Award, for her dedication to advancing her career and that of others. Views expressed are those of author Susanne Tedrick and are not endorsed by any of her current or former employers.

​Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads