Last night, I went to a Geek Girl Dinner hosted by Box. I had run late because of traffic and was frantically trying to get in without being a nuisance. I snuck in, grabbed some delicious greek food and settled in for the talks. I thought all the talks were really great, but one in particular resonated with me. Tamar Bercovici is a Senior Engineering Manager at Box and she chronicled her experiences transitioning from a theoretical computer science major with a PHD, to a web developer, to a manager.
As someone who is going through the interview process once again, it was really interesting to hear her struggles and triumphs. She had prepared heavily prior to interviews, and applied to a ton of places – she even snuck into career fairs at schools she didn’t attend. The thing that really resonated with me was her mantra during the interview process: Don’t apologize. She didn’t apologize for not having web experience, or having a PHD, or the fact that she was making a change in her career.
I think more often than not, I apologize for a lot of things. I apologize for not having enough experience, I apologize for not working during my gaps, I apologize that companies may potentially have to support me more (even though this won’t be the case). Whether or not I explicitly say sorry, I know that sometimes my tone is not the most confident. There’s been an anecdote floating around that women just say sorry more often. Pantene’s ad sparked a conversation about how women feel the need to apologize for things they shouldn’t have to.
So I think I’m going to stop apologizing. I didn’t work during my gaps, yes, but I was spending time learning, contributing to the coding community, taking time to travel and see the world. I wasn’t doing nothing. I was making myself a better person and a better programmer.
I’m going to scrawl “Don’t apologize” somewhere above my computer so I can remind myself that I have my own story. It’s mine and mine alone. No one – especially me – should put me down for it.