The Meet the Tech Leader series spotlights amazing women of color tech leaders who are making the tech industry better, and are trailblazing the path for more WoC to enter the field.
In this post, we shine a spotlight on the wonderful Kimberly Paulissaint, Senior Media Manager at 360i, A New York City based digital marketing agency. Kimberly goes over her path to tech, how she overcame the obstacles she faced, and her continued commitment to bringing more WoC in tech through her work at COOP – a public/private partnership between the City University of New York, Google and Microsoft that trains low income and first generation grads for digital marketing careers.
What do your day to day duties look like?
My day to day duties consist of internal meetings with my team or external meetings with the client, account management, project management, researching, and data analysis.
What classes or professional opportunities prepared you for your current career?
Being an apprentice at COOP, prepared me for my current career. While at COOP, I learned the fundamentals needed for an entry-level position in the tech world.
The Excel workshops taught me how to digest data. The SEM (search engine marketing) lessons helped me understand what SEM is and how to create a search campaign. The resume/cover letter workshops help me to draft my experience in a more comprehensive way.
Overall, COOP helped me connect all my previous experiences and saw how they fit perfectly with my new career. This way I was able to build my story and became a strong candidate during interviews.
What motivated you to pursue a career in tech?
Honestly, prior to COOP, I wasn’t interested in a career in tech because I thought a career in tech meant I had to know how to code and had to have a computer science degree. Growth is extremely important to me. I love data and once I learned that I could use my data skills to get into the tech world, I was hooked. I knew that tech is the future and it will continue to grow. I wanted to be part of this forever growing field and invest in a career that I see growth in.
What do you love about your career?
I love the freedom. I love being able to be myself and express myself while I’m at work. I love being able to work from home sometimes. As long as I am connected to the web then I can do my job. I also love being part of a world that is constantly changing.
What challenges did you face on your journey into tech and how did you cope with them?
While I was in college, I worked full time and was also a full-time student. I did not have the chance to take an internship, as most internships were nonpaid and usually around 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday. Taking an internship was impossible for me as I needed my full-time job to pay bills. After college, while trying to find a job, they would always ask about internships and previous skills that I did not have.
I overcame it by being part of COOP. COOP was the only apprenticeship program that was 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. I gained the digital skills needed and it helped me land my first digital marketing job, three months later.
While in the tech industry, one of the challenges that I faced was being in a room filled with people that do not look like me. I cope with it by knowing that my work speaks for itself and I deserve to be in the room as much as anybody else.
What role did mentorship have in your career growth?
Mentoring was beneficial to my career growth. I have different mentors for different reasons. I have someone who is my role model. This person is older than me and has more experience in life and in their career. I talk to this person about issues that I have faced and learned how they overcome those issues themselves. I have a mentor who is around my age. This person keeps me grounded, supports me, and motivates me.
What efforts are you undertaking to bring more women of color in tech industry? Why is it important to you?
I’m an executive captain at COOP. An executive captain is someone that mentors and manages the captains/teachers at COOP. I get to meet many more women of color like myself, who did not know that they can enter the tech industry. I talk to them about my experience and letting them know that if I can do it so can they.
This is very important to me because unfortunately there are not many women of color in the tech industry and that is mostly due to the misconception of what exactly is available to do in the tech world and also the networking connections that we lack.
What advice would you give to other women of color looking to enter the industry?
You do not need to have a degree in computer science or software engineering if you are looking to come into the tech industry. Sometimes you may feel a little out of place, however, if you look around, you are definitely where you are meant to be.
If [you’re finding] it difficult to enter the tech world, look into programs that will help you build your connections and give you an upper hand. A program such as COOP, coopcareer.com. COOP is a nonprofit organization that teaches you the digital skills and help with the peer connections to build the bridge into the tech world.