We just finished our first season of The Retro. Season one was focused on profiling the amazing coaches and learners on our platform. We talked to product managers, designers, founders, engineering managers, and directors about their careers, challenges, stories, and how they managed to put it all together to have a successful career in tech.
Through talking to these great folks, we learned and reflected and on the New York tech industry. Here are Randy’s and I’s big takeaways:
- There is no standard path into tech, at least not in New York. People are coming from all kinds of backgrounds and education types. Yes, there are stigmas and biases to overcome, but this seems to have widened a lot more in the last decade or so.
- In the product discipline, there seems to be a big gap between product leaders and more junior talent. Product people didn’t found the first wave of New York startups, and that probably caused a generation of churn amongst product leaders in New York.
- The design and arts community has built a more durable community in New York than the tech scene. Arts culture has a deeper and symbolic place in New York culture, and the product design community is more of a child of that community than the of the tech community. Community builders in tech should look to them and the past for ideas and inspiration on building a durable tech community (for example https://creativemornings.com/)
- The best opportunities don’t come from an open job application — they come from your network. There are many ways to build that network (Merit being one of them) but the key takeaway is that not focusing on that means you’re missing out on value opportunities in your career.
- An employee’s superpower is that they can always leave. Don’t eat shit just because it’s a job — it’ll just make you miserable. Figure out what you want and craft your journey to get there!
- People’s fondest memories are oftentimes when they were working really hard with a team they liked at a company with a mission they found interesting. If you can find and afford an opportunity like this, take it, because it’ll be personally rewarding.
For season two, we are trying a slightly different format due to COVID-19:
- We are going to be live streaming our podcast on Friday afternoons via Youtube
- We are going to have multiple guests per episode usually focused around a specific theme or topic (i.e. working remotely, navigating layoffs, etc.)
- We will also edit these live streams and release them as normal Retro podcast episodes
We are experimenting with this format, so let us know if you like it! We figured a lighter, looser more topical format is a better fit for these strange times.