Hello, readers – I’m back with tips and tricks!

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing insights from my friends, Erika Jiwho graciously spent some time to write about their experiences in the tech field. I met her at Stanford when we were undergrads. I met Erika in the singing group I joined that performed for nursing homes. 

Below, she shares about how she first got interested/involved in tech, how she confronted her insecurities and imposter syndrome, and her advice on how you can get started! 

I hope these interviews are helpful for any of you who are looking to enter tech/Silicon Valley and/or are simply curious about it.

What are you currently up to?

I’m a product manager at Dropbox in our New York City office. I work with people across the company to determine what products Dropbox should build and then help to get them built.

How/When did you first get interested in tech?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I’ve been surrounded by the Silicon Valley tech culture since I was born. Funnily enough, though, I’d never really thought about working in tech until college. I majored in computer science, by accident. I’d taken a couple computer science classes for fun early on, and before I knew it, it was time to declare a major. I was a lot closer to getting a computer science degree than any other degree, so I just went with it.

What actually led me into tech was my excitement about becoming a product manager at a tech company. In high school, I discovered that I had a passion for leading student organizations, so I was looking for a career that would give me a similar feeling of fulfillment from working with others toward a shared goal. I tried multiple summer internships in that vein outside of tech and learned more about myself with each experience, and when I came across the product manager role, it sounded like nearly a perfect fit — a role where I could work with and lead amazing people to solve diverse and challenging problems and create tangible results. I started as a product manager at Dropbox nearly 3 years ago, and it’s been an amazing experience.

Silicon Valley and tech fields currently don’t have a ton of women. What’s been your experience so far as a woman in tech? If there’ve been challenges, how’d you deal with them?

I’m aware of some of the awful things that have happened to women in tech, and so far I’ve been lucky to experience the better side of things on this issue. Dropbox has a culture that highly values mutual respect and kindness, and the folks I’ve met and worked with have always been respectful and kind. I really appreciate having strong female product manager role models to look up to within Dropbox, too.

I did deal with heavy impostor syndrome when I first started at Dropbox, and some theorize that women are more likely to experience impostor syndrome than men. It took a mix of time, tangible accomplishments, and great managers and mentors to grow my confidence to where it is today.

What advice do you have for budding tech hopefuls? Suggestions for finding a job in Silicon Valley/tech and how to “succeed” (whatever that means to you).

There are a ton of different roles at tech companies, so I recommend understanding what type of role you’re looking for and researching what skills and experience you need for that role in particular.

For college students interested in product management, check out programs such as the Dropbox New Grad PM program, the Google APM program, and the Facebook RPM program to understand what companies look for.

For early- and mid-career folks, know that tech companies often expect PM candidates to have at least some tech background or experience before they transition into a product management role. Tech companies highly value demonstrated merit, so consider finding opportunities to showcase your skill and potential in other roles within a tech company first.

What do you enjoy on the weekends? What’s your fave food? What would you do if you were doing something outside of tech?

I love music. I grew up playing piano, and I love singing both solo and in ensembles (I’m in three!). If I didn’t work in tech, I’d probably be a music director. My favorite food is french toast.