Episode 27 – You Need A Career Game Plan with Emily Atkinson

 In Podcasts

Emily Atkinson is a software engineer and Managing Director of DevelopHer, formerly Girls In Tech UK. Emily is passionate about encouraging others to learn more and has an interest in the crossover with tech and education. She is also a regular speaker at events and workshops.

In this episode Emily talks about the importance of having a career development plan and how it will help to propel your career forward. Emily also tells us that we need to be continually challenged and that you shouldn’t get too comfortable in your job.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:49) – Phil introduces Emily Atkinson

(01:16) – Emily spent six years working at Moo, the digital and online print company, and has recently moved to Conde Nast

(01:36) – Conde Nast provides the web platform for Vogue, GQ, Glamour and their brands

(01:46) – Previously Emily was a full stack engineer working on the front end of the website as well as mobile development


(01:56) – Unique Career Tip: Emily says “Don’t get too comfortable where you are”

(02:21) – Make sure that you’re enjoying what you’re doing because you’re being challenged

(02:29) – Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re enjoying something because you’re comfortable in what you’re doing

(03:06) – You may be enjoying what you’re doing but you have to consider career progression

(03:17) – Is where I am going to propel me forward? Am I going to get everything I want out of this in the next six months, next year or next two years?

(03:24) – Ask yourself difficult questions and then make difficult decisions if need be


(03:30) – Worst Career Moment: Emily has had embarrassing career moments

(03:45) – Emily talks about accidentally making a version control mistake

(03:49) – The manager of Emily’s team stopped the team working to fix the problem

(04:01) – Emily says that her worst career moment was when she realised that she didn’t have a career game plan

(04:11) – Emily believes that this held her back from pushing forward and challenging herself

(04:22) – Phil comments on the importance of having your own career development plan, even if not written down

(04:33) – Ask other people to help you with your career development plan, such as your boss and your peers

(04:48) – Phil and Emily discuss why you need to regularly revisit and update your career development plan


(05:25) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Emily says that for a long time her greatest success was achieving her Master’s Degree in Computer Science

(05:41) – From a non-technical background in English and Psychology, Emily converted to I.T.

(06:02) – Emily’s skill set was a good fit for a career in I.T. and she was able to learn

(06:12) – It was the hardest thing Emily has ever done because it was such a challenge to understand software engineering

(06:33) – Seeing your own code being used in production provides a sense of achievement which continues with each new project


(07:12) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Emily talks about the fluidity of jobs and the evolution of the whole tech industry

(07:45) – There are so many different streams within tech that you can go into

(07:51) – You don’t know what new opportunities will arise


(08:03) – The Reveal

(08:06) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “The thought that I’d be able to solve puzzles and problems all day long”

(08:20) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “Not to hold yourself back”

(09:18) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”I’d ask questions sooner”

(10:37) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “I’ve just changed jobs. I wanted to pursue more challenges”

(12:22) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Adapting”


(13:50) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Emily says that when starting out in your career you should talk to as many people as possible

(14:05) – Attend or join forums if possible and then participate

(15:02) – Talk to people and do research by reading around the subject

(15:11) – Getting stuck in one career track is not a significant risk. There is always opportunity to switch and try new things

(16:04) – Don’t give up immediately if you’re not enjoying something. Give it at least six months.


3 Key Points:     

  1. Challenge yourself in what you do
  2. Create and maintain your own career development plan
  3. Learn as much as you can by attending or joining forums and talking to people


Resources Mentioned:

  • DevelopHer – Emily’s website
  • LinkedIn – Emily’s LinkedIn profile
  • EmilyAtk – Emily’s Twitter handle
  • DevelopHerUk – Develop Her Twitter handle
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