By Maureen Erokwu

A diverse and inclusive workforce has never been more important, yet we continue to witness the lack of diversity in the tech field. For underrepresented groups, breaking into the industry can feel daunting and complex. Do not be deterred! For queer women of color, there are numerous opportunities for a rewarding career in the technology field. Here are 8 tips to jumpstart your career today.

1. Learn the basics: HTML.

Hyper text markup language, commonly referred to as HTML, is the standard markup language used to create simple web pages. Having a basic level understanding is your first step in moving beyond the interest stage. These recommendations below are excellent and cost-effective resources for those looking to start their coding careers:

Codecademy
Udemy
Khan Academy

2. Join coding program for professionals.

For most people looking to switch careers, going back to school for an additional four years just isn’t practical. Bootcamps are intensive 2-3 month program learning alternatives. Check out these top rated programs in the country:

Hackbright Academy
Dev Bootcamp
General Assembly

3. Build really cool stuff with others. 

A hackathon, also known as hackfest, is an event where programmers, makers, doers and designers, and idea generators collaborate intensively on software projects in competition with other teams. Most hackathons are very welcoming of first-timers, so sign up for one, build a great product, win some cash and get free publicity.

4. Overcome your impostor syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome is the inability to recognize one’s achievements. To overcome this hurdle re-frame the way you think about your achievements and recognize that no one deserves to be in the room more than you.

5. Build and maintain your network.

Developing a solid network could mean a support system to get you from point A to point B. Establishing and fostering genuine professional and personal relationships have the power to improve your career greatly. The opportunities include but are not limited work promotions, job recommendations, and recognition.

6. Identify spaces you can thrive in.

Find groups and organizations with that are committed to increasing women’s participation in the workforce. Often times you’ll come across opportunities and resources that will push your career forward.

7. Seek mentors and influencers.

Find people who have been to where you’re going. It’s vital to your ongoing success. Relationships developed with people with advanced skills can potentially lead to much needed insights that help navigate and fast-track your career. They cannot only support you but influence others to support you as well.

8. Attend industry events and conferences.

Learn valuable insights almost immediately. Attending an industry event, conference or meet-up is an excellent way to help your career or company. Almost always, you have the opportunity to connect with several industry experts, get up-to-date information and receive valuable feedback from others in your field.

maureenMaureen, founder of Vosmap and co-founder of OutDoc, is a leading industry expert in entrepreneurship, business strategy and Street View Mapping. Listed as Inc’s “9 Awesome Women Black Tech Founders To Watch,” she is dedicated to helping brands increase their online visibility. 

Maureen is an advisor for Lesbians Who Tech, A White House LGBTQ Tech Innovation Fellow and a notable 2014 Focus Fellow. Her passion for photo-technology has allowed her to find entrepreneurial success despite the male dominated landscape of the industry. You can find her on Twitter encouraging women to be unafraid to enter the technology field @merokwu.

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