Episode 72 – Be Authentic and Make Your Background Your Advantage with Chloe Condon
Chloe Condon is a former musical theatre actress and Hackbright Academy graduate. She is now a developer evangelist for Sentry. She’s passionate about bring people from non-traditional backgrounds into the world of tech, and in February of this year, Chloe was named one of the “200+ Thought Leaders in Crypto and Blockchain.” And yet, she claims to know absolutely nothing about them.
In this episode, Phil interviews Chloe Condon, an engineer who has written many articles on her experiences as both a woman in the tech industry and also someone coming from a very non-traditional background in musical theatre. Chloe talks with Phil about the ways her theatre experience has proved to be an advantage, whether it’s speaking confidently at conferences or creating more entertaining and engaging events for meetups. She also stresses the importance of speaking up for yourself and continuously learning new things.
(1.02) Phil kicks the interview off by asking Chloe more about herself, and she refers to the joke at the end of her bio, saying that she frequently writes about her experiences as a woman in tech from a non-traditional background. However, she found out that her name had been copy-pasted into an article about the best people to speak at conferences about Crypto and Blockchain, and that she really doesn’t know anything about these topics.
(2.42) Phil asks Chloe to share a unique career tip, and she says the biggest tip she can think of is to be authentic and real about yourself and your background, talking about how she was worried about not fitting in as an engineer, but that her background has actually helped her in the tech industry, including public speaking and event planning.
(4.00) Phil then asks Chloe to describe her worst IT career moment and what it taught her. Chloe replies that one of her lowest moments came when she was working in tech but before she was an engineer. She worked in various admin roles after college to try and support her theatre career. She felt very invisible at her job and that the work she was doing was being taken for granted. This has taught her to always be appreciative and supportive to everyone she works with.
(7.15) Phil shifts things over to Chloe’s greatest career success so far, and she talks about publishing an article called, “What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference,” and the experience of coming from the female-dominated profession of theatre to the much more male-dominated world of tech. People responded really well to it because it gave men insight into how isolating it could be to be a woman in tech, and also Chloe has received very positive international recognition for it.
(10.20) Chloe goes on to add that when she’s at conferences and gets asked if she’s enjoying being there with her husband and being able to respond that actually, she’s the keynote speaker, it can feel equal parts good and upsetting.
(10.47) Phil continues the interview with the question of what excites Chloe the most about the future of the IT industry. She says that, broadly, the tech industry is exciting because everything’s always changing and there are always new things to learn. Specifically, she’s excited about developing mobile apps and also machine learning. It’s an interesting time in technology to see how we interact with machines.
(12.08) Phil moves things into the Reveal Round, beginning with why Chloe started working in IT. She says that it began with wanting to learn a new skill that was so different than what she had been learning as a theatre major and that technology has always fascinated her.
(12.29) On the topic of best career advice she’s received, Chloe re-emphasizes the importance of being yourself and bringing your background and perspective into the industry. She also says some very good advice she got as a woman in IT was to not be afraid to speak up and let herself be heard.
(13.05) Next, Phil asks Chloe what she would do if she were to start her whole career over from scratch, to which she replies tongue-in-cheek that she would not get a theatre degree and instead teach herself to code online and take her tuition money and buy a house with it.
(13.39) Phil then asks Chloe to talk a bit about her current career objectives, which are focusing on mobile development and enjoying getting creative with a smaller design space and what applications she can make in it.
(14.10) When asked about the most useful non-tech skill that’s helped her in her career, Chloe refers back to earlier in the interview, mentioning that her theatre background has given her an advantage when it comes to both public speaking and event planning to make tech meetups more fun and entertaining.
(16.21) Finally, Phil closes things out by asking Chloe for any parting words of career advice for the listeners, and she says that it’s never too late to learn a new skill, whether it’s changing from musical theatre to coding or just feeling pigeonholed into a particular language or job title. There’s plenty of time and room within the industry to do something new.
(17.55) Chloe adds on that in the performing arts, you can work hard and put effort in and there will always be things out of your control that can keep you from succeeding, down to not having the right hair colour, whereas, in technology, you can put in 110% knowing that you will get it back.
(2.50) Chloe: “My unique career tip would be to be as authentic and real as you can, regarding not only your brand but just your background.”
(6.34) Chloe: “My rule of thumb is to be nice and supportive and mentor and lift up everyone that you work with.”
(9.24) Chloe: “It feels really wonderful to be recognized for work and to look back at my life two years ago and go ‘Wow! I actually do have a voice in a community, this is really cool!’”
(11.05) Chloe: “It’s so exciting to me that in this industry, everything is always changing. There’s always new technologies, there’s always new things to learn, so you’re not stuck in one particular field or industry or expertise.”
(15.15) Chloe: “I think it’s just proof that diverse perspective is so important in technology.”
Phil: “Definitely, it can be a bit dry and staid at times, so yes, a bit of energy is what it requires.”
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