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RTC Tech Mentor Spotlight – February 2022

Rewriting the Code’s community of women pursing degrees and careers in technology includes the RTC Mentors – hundreds of volunteer mentors who give their time to share their expertise and accelerate student success through a 1:1 matching program.

Many of these professionals work as engineers who offer diverse backgrounds and experiences, which provide the student community access to unique insight into the field and resources for career placement and transition.

The RTC Mentor Spotlight Series is designed to showcase some of our mentors who are passionate about lifting up women in tech.

If you are an RTC member and interested in finding a mentor, navigate to the MENTOR tab in your teamRTC account!

For professional engineers interested in joining our community as an RTC Champion, complete the interest form here.

Mentor Profile:

Name: Mandy Steinhardt
Title: Career and Authenticity Coach
Company: Mandy Steinhardt Coaching
Alma Mater: University of Florida – Warrington College of Business

How did you become interested in tech?

I always worked in marketing and analytics because I am a curious person and love using data to answer my questions. Once I had the opportunity to work at a software development firm, I enjoyed getting to work closely to design user experiences and partner with engineers. I love working with super smart people.

What experiences were instrumental in preparing you for your current role?

I had a number of roles where I focused on customer loyalty, segmentation, and combined research and data analytics to understand customers better. These provided a foundation for my tech and marketing career. Now I work in Marketing Analytics at Cisco while also coaching women on the side.

What professional skills do you think are necessary for a new professionals to learn early in their career?

The most important skill for someone of any age is to be able to intuitively understand the expectations for your role and develop the personal fortitude to set personal boundaries as to what degree you will go to meet them. Not all expectations are reasonable or worthy. It takes time to learn what the expectations are, and bravery to seek clarity when there is none. It takes even more bravery to believe in yourself enough to set boundaries and stick to them. If you can do it, you command respect.

Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?

I have been laid off a number of times, including once while 8 months pregnant. Layoffs are just an opportunity to reimagine your career. They are incredibly stressful, yes, but they force you to re-examine how you have been living and working. The experience of changing jobs so frequently has been a great skill-builder for how to get jobs and that is part of what I share with my mentees.

What is a faulty assumption many people early in career have about their career path?

It is a very commonly-held idea that you will pick what your career goal is (say a C-Suite position) and work methodically towards it until you achieve it. What people don’t realize is that the you you will be in five or ten years is spectacularly different from the you you are now. Which means your career goals change. In fact many times you end up somewhere you couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. It’s important then to take time to find what you like and what you hate and use those things as signals about what choices to make when opportunities present. You can still plan and develop skills, but the more tightly you hold to a specific goal, sometimes it can either elude you or you can achieve it and it will be anti-climactic. Be open to new opportunities as they come and be creative about possibilities.

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