First Day of Work

First days have always been sacred to me.

K-12 it was the first days of school. The first day meant getting new school supplies, which I got to organize for myself and my brother since this was my favorite task of the year. Math was always red, history was orange, and science was green.

The first day of work is filled with anxiety and iced coffee, accompanied by pure excitement. It takes me back to my elementary school days. Who will I sit with during lunch? Will they like me? Will I like them? Part of the first day of work for me includes doing a little research on the company and the people in the company. I am writing this post from a coffee shop next door to my office since I want to be perfectly on time for my first day.

Here are my 5 first day of work tips:

  1. Do a little research before you start(nothing creepy, just be knowledgable)
  2. Always be on time
  3. Get a good night’s sleep the night before
  4. Start your routine from day one. If you want to go to the gym before work, start this the first day and it will become a habit
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions Ask a lot of questions

Enjoy the featured image which is a dorky photo of me from my first day of work last year(I got a random person on the street to take it for me)

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
– Amelia Earhart

Top Tools Being Used in the Union Square Ventures Network

This summer I had the pleasure of interning at USV this summer to support the Network Team.

Through my community management work in Slack as well as in attending USV network events, I noticed that one of the most common questions that comes up in the network is what tools are used by other companies.

To embark on this research project, we gathered over 450 software tools used across 64 companies, representing approximately 86% of our active portfolio. We began by tagging each tool based on department, the type of tool, and then explored how company size impacted usage.

Below are some observations and trends that we discovered.

Types of Tools Reported

As you can see below, developer tools ranked #1 among the categories of reported tools for this project, with 164 total tools reported. We also saw large numbers of tools used for communication, business intelligence, and design

Most Popular Tools

The top reported tools were G Suite, Slack, GitHub, Jira, Sketch, Salesforce, DropBox, AWS, Excel, and InVision. These top tools (in particular G Suite, Slack, and GitHub) were used across multiple departments or tended to skew toward developer tools.

Developer Tools in the Network

The chart below show the most popular developer tools overall in the network. After Github and Jira, there was a drop off which may be because there are many free/open source options, causing individuals and companies to explore and favor different ones.

Size Breakouts

Company size creates a stratification among developer, hiring, and communication tools. As an example of how this plays out in engineering, you can see that all of the size brackets use either Github or Jira, but after that, the differentiation develops. For example, smaller companies are less likely to use security software. On the communication side, smaller companies are more likely to use internal tools like Calendly, GoToMeeting, and Rocketchat, whereas external tools including Docusign, Facebook, Medium, Sendgrid, and Twitter persisted across all size brackets.

As for hiring tools, LinkedIn, Lever, and Greenhouse are the most popular in the network, but these are primarily only used by companies with more than 30 employees. Tools like Guru, Textio, DiscoverOrg, and Checkr were used with companies larger than 50 employees, while Jobbatical, Entelo, Jazz, and AngelList were used by our smaller companies.

Market Dominant Tools by Category

While AWS still appears to be the favored cloud platform used among our portfolio, Google Cloud in particular appears to be gaining more traction. As you can see below, ¼ of companies are using either Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure.

Other tools with dominant market share include Slack and Salesforce. While 92% of our companies report using Slack, some companies opted to use Hipchat (recently acquired by Slack), Beekeeper, and Rocket Chat.

For sales management CRMs, 42% of our companies use Salesforce, however, some used alternatives like Google Streak, Insightly, or Close.io. It does not seem as though size played a role in a company’s choice in any of these circumstances.

Closing Thoughts

One of the most fun parts about working on this project was learning about new tools used in the network. In fact, 52% of the tools reported were used exclusively by one company in our portfolio, which exposed a few new tools like Jell and Perdoo (both workflow management tools) as well as Sapling (an HR platform built for G Suite). It was also great to see how 78% of our portfolio companies use tools built by our portfolio companies (including Code Climate and Cloudflare, among others.)

While the average company in our portfolio is using 7 tools, one of our larger companies reported using 77 different tools, which made me realize that transitioning between tools may be a source of growing pains for startups. As our portfolio continues to expand, we hope that by aggregating and sharing this list internally (we’re even building a Slack Bot for our network to search these tools), we can make it easier to choose the best tool for each use case.

Venture Capital Acronyms

This summer I was an intern at a venture capital (vc) firm. Venture capital firms have a Monday meeting, each firm does these a little differently, but in a general sense these meetings are used to discuss how everything is going. During Monday meetings I would take notes of all of the acronyms that were used that I didn’t know what they meant.

Below is a compiled list of these acronyms along with what they mean. If you are considering entering the world of venture capital I recommend familiarizing yourself with as many of these acronyms as possible. Remember, this is a minute glimpse into just the acronyms used in venture capital.

ARPU: Average Revenue Per User

ARR: Annual Recurring Revenue

ATS: Applicant Tracking System

AUM: Assets Under Management

CPG: Consumer Packaged Goods

CRM: Customer Relationship Management

D&I: Diversity and Inclusion

DAPTS: Domestic Asset Protection Trusts

GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation

GMV: Gross Merchandise Value

HSM: Hardware Security Model

IPFS: InterPlanetary File System

ISP: Internet Service Provider

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

LP: Limited Partner

MOM: Month Over Month

NAV: Net Asset Value

ROI: Return on Investment

SEC: Securities and Exchange Commission

SOI: Statement of Investment

TCR: Token Curated Registry

TVPI: Total Value to Paid-In

YOY: Year Over Year

Y Combinator Female Founders Conference

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Y Combinator’s female founders event.

For those of you how don’t know, Y Combinator was founded in 2005 and has invested in over 1,800 companies. Instead of investing a lot of money in a few companies, YC decided to invest a little in a lot of companies and help them along the way. This concept is what we now call an accelerator.

“Y Combinator created a new model for funding early stage startups.Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($120k) in a large number of startups.The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which we work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.But YC doesn’t end on Demo Day. We and the YC alumni network continue to help founders for the life of their company, and beyond.”

The event started off with Jessica Livingston speaking very candidly to the audience. She was one of the four founders of YC — the only one without a technical background, and the only female. She told us her hats she wore as a founder. One of her roles in founding YC was being a therapist to the teams of these small companies. When you are founding a company, you are putting your life on hold and focusing on turning a crazy idea you had into a company. Making this jump into uncertainty requires a hand to hold — Jessica was that hand for YC companies. Jessica also had a good judge of character. After companies would pitch to YC, the three male founders would all turn to Jessica at the end and ask if they should invest. She could read the personalities of the founders better than the men and made sure YC was sticking to their zero asshole policy(this policy no longer exists).

Aside from sharing stories with the audience about the early days of YC, Jessica shared 9 points of advance.

  1. There is no one mold for a successful founder.
  2. Do what you’re genuinely interested in.
  3. Ignore mainstream opinion.
  4. Find a cofounder with complementary skills, same moral compass.
  5. Make something people want.
  6. Don’t let rejection distract you.
  7. Start small so you can be nimble.
  8. It’s ok not to have gone to an elite college
  9. Be intrepid

All of these points are important, but there were three that really resonated with me. The first is that “there is no one mold for a successful founder”. I loved this point because I also think that there is no one mold for a successful person. Success looks different to everyone. I also believe that sometimes being so far off from the mold can work in one’s favor. The second is that “it’s ok not to have gone to an elite college”; I have free college in the state of Florida, and I chose free college over an elite college. Despite me consciously making this decision I am often self conscious that I am inferior to another person because of the name of their University. Having the idea reaffirmed that it’s what you do with your education, not where you go, was very comforting for me. The final point was to be intrepid, this means to be fearless and adventurous. I have many fears and intentionally make myself face them. I believe that in order to constantly be evolving as individuals we must seek change when we become comfortable.

I will leave you with the a quote I live my life by.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt

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Your Toolbox

During my internship search this summer, I decided to not exclusively look for programming internships. Weird for a computer science major, I know, but I did this because I am interested in many other things outside of programming. I ran into one common question from my non programming internship interviewers — they would ask me “well, you know this isn’t a programming internship, will that be an issue for you? I only ask because in the past we have had interns who were studying computer science and all they wanted to do was program.”

This is how I answered that question when I was presented with it…

We all have a toolbox. If you are studying computer science one the tools in your box may be programming. If you are a blogger another tool in your box could be writing. Tools in your box can even be your ability to talk to others or constantly pick the perfect Instagram filter.

For example I am a programmer, so one of the skills in my box is programming. However, this does not mean that I can only search for jobs that require me to program. Programming to me is a hammer. A hammer is a very useful tool, but every project I work on, or want to work on, may not need a hammer. Some projects need wrenches, saws, etc.

I have accepted a non programming internship. I will be working on the digital strategy, and chatbot curation for a startup in NYC. During the school year (9.5 months), I work on making my programming skills the best that they can be. I think it is important to have to fine-tune my other skills, which is why I blog and accepted a non technical internship.

It’s important to realize that our skills are tools in our toolbox and not what define us. We are allowed to jump from tool to tool as necessary.

You Want to be a Computer Scientist, Now What?

system.out.println("Become a Computer Scientist");

When we were all born none of us knew how to speak. Now we can sit and talk about our ideas without thinking about each word that we are saying and its definition. Speaking to us has become second nature.

Learning to Program

The process of learning to program is similar to speaking. One day you learn how to create a variable, the next day you are learning about loops and how to make your program recrsive.

You learn everything bit by bit — not all at once.

After you learn the different aspect of what to put into a program, and have written a couple dozen yourself, putting all of the pieces together will become second nature. For instance, adding items to a list in java looks like this:

List<String> myList = new LinkedList<String>();
myList.add("Hello");
myList.add("reader");

I naturally put the “.” inbetween myList and add, but I often forget to think about what that “.” is doing. This is because adding to my lists has started to become second nature to me.

This is a reason why part of computer science is self teaching. Think about breathing. We just kind of do it. Okay, now thinking about trying to describe to someone how to breathe. Its rather diffucult to describe to someone how to do something that is second nature to you. Your teachers trying to describe concepts to you can feel like this. That’s why finding online resources and practice is key to learning how to program.

Concepts in Computer Science

Part of becoming a computer scientist is learning the different concepts within the field.

For instance, I currently do not think that in my post grad life I will be using artificial intelligence(AI). That said, I should still be able to discuss those topics. If I was working on a project with someone and they suggested we approach the problem using AI, I should be able to say why or why not I think it’s a good idea.

This concept is similar to being a baker. Say I am a professional baker, but I only ever want to bake brownies. Don’t you think it’s still important that I know how a cupcake is made, especially if I am going to consider myself a professional baker? Maybe I should even know how to make a basic cupcake.

This concept of being versed in multiple areas of the disipline is especially important when you’re dealing with a field like computer science. Computer science is not like engineering where you need to be licensed to practice. In computer science you can be completely self taught and still be successful in the field. Being well versed in your options is necessary when making important decisions that computer scientists have to make.

My Five Step Plan to Creating an Online Community

Breaking The Code

As a student I find myself going, and going nonstop. During winter break I am supposed to be relaxing and binge-watching Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely spent a few days in my pajamas watching The Office, but I soon found myself to be feeling bored and unfulfilled by this ritual.

In order to curb my boredom I created a winter break project for myself.

I made breakingthecode.xyz, this is an online community that provides resources for women and minority genders with a background in computer science. You can join this online community and become a code breaker.

I used the Stanford design thinking process guide(DTPG) for my project. Below I will explain how I used the Stanford DTPG.

  1. The first step of the Stanford DTPG is to empathize. I began to think of people that I strongly empathize with and I immediately thought of women in STEM, and even more specifically, women in computer science. Being a female in CS, I was aware of the programs that were available to help get women to study CS. I even participated in Girls Who Code and cite that as the reason why I am now studying CS. Despite all of these resources available to high school women, I noticed that once you in fact do decided to study computer science, the resources just kind of just fall off. I decided that I wanted to create a resource for women currently study CS, as well as women who were trying to start their careers in the field. I then realized that I wanted to be more inclusive and make a resource for women AND minority genders — both underrepresented groups in CS.
  2. The second step is to define. I did this step by defining what resources I could provide for these groups. I decided that at the collegiate level I would provide programming, internship, and professor resources. At the career level I would provide interviewing, and job resources. For both collegiate and career level I provide community resources as well.
  3. The third step is to ideate. I did this step by scouring the internet for available resources and by talking to others to try and make sure I helping solve this problem in the right way. What I mean by helping solve this problem in the right way is that I had to check with my potential users and make sure that this is something that they would like, and not just something that I liked.
  4. Fourth is the prototype step. I used WIX to help create this website. I decided to use something like WIX instead of doing the programming myself because a former boss of mine told me “don’t recreate the wheel”. I also knew that my goal for this project was not to improve my web development skills, but to create the best resource possible. I spent type prototyping and also user testing. For me user testing was me writing down the top 6 things I wanted people to be able to do on my site, and then asking real life people to do these things. I would watch them as they tried to complete these tasks and note where they got stuck or took longer than I had expected. I edited my site accordingly to make it as easy as possible for people to navigate.
  5. The last step is test. In order to do this step I shared my site on as many online sites as possible, and asked(begged) for feedback. Although my site is live and people are using it I feel as though I will always be in the test phase. I constantly am adding new resources that I discover, and always welcome feedback.

Visit breakingthecode.xyz and feel free to give me feedback!

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”
 — Grace Hopper

The Dating Game

If you’re like me you and you’re an undergraduate student you are trying to get an internship for this summer. Over the past three years of having, and searching for internships, I have noticed something- finding an internship is a lot like dating

· The chase is half the fun

· It’s difficult find something that’s compatible

· There’s heartbreak

· You will grow

I say that the chase is half of the fun because I enjoy learning about, and finding interesting companies that I had previously not known about. I also enjoy getting to learn about all of the different types of positions there are. I originally thought that because I am studying computer science I need a software engineering internship but this is hardly the case; I can do product management, research, and so much more. Plus, like getting ready for a date there can be some fun in getting ready for an interview; looking up the person you will be talking with on LinkedIn, getting the part of your room in the video shot spotless, and then getting yourself and your skills perfectly polished.

Like on a date, you and the company are both trying to feel out if you are compatible together. To get to know your date better you would ask them questions that can give insight into what they value; you should do the same for the company you are interviewing with. When interviewing you shouldn’t just be trying to impress the company, but really trying to understand if the fit is right and if this is a place you would want to work at.

Heartbreak is also a thing in the internship search. The love may be on sided, and they may reject you. I like to think of this situation the same as a date, if they don’t like me then it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll find someone who does, because I rock.

There are also the people you date just for the experience, you don’t love or hate them, but you know you aren’t going to marry them. The same goes for internships. You may not land your dream internship this summer, but you will learn and grow from the position you are in, regardless of if it’s at Google, a small startup or anything in between. If you’re not in your dream position, find out what steps you need to take during the next couple of months to be a better candidate for it next intern season.

Like with love you should always follow your heart but more importantly your gut.

Wozniak’s Happiness Algorithm

Today, I skipped all of my classes to see Steve “The Woz” Wozniak speak.

Having seen my share of speakers before, I was expecting him to be very average, but didn’t want to miss out on the oppurtunity of seeing him.

To my surprise, his passion and energy were palpable.

One of the most important things he talked about was how to live a good life. This is a concept that many philosophers have explored. In particular, Aristotle called this concept arete.

According to Wozniak, happiness was the key to a good life. Happiness is better than success and achievement.

Now we are all wondering, how do we achieve happiness? Well, Steve Wozniak gave me an algorithm which I will now share with you.

Remember, that this algorithm was created by one of the most brilliant engineers to ever exist so try and follow along…

Happiness = Smiles — Frowns

*He later mentioned that necessities(housing, water, food), entertainment, and friends are all things that you need as well.

Out of the whole talk that he gave he spat out a lot of insight, but I thought that this was the most important. His emphasis on it led me to believe that he thinks that this is the most important thing as well.

Don’t look back.

Don’t argue.

You never have to convince anyone other than yourself.

  • Steve Wozniak

Twitter Tips #tweeting

This summer at my internship I had the oppurtunity to run the companies’ Twitter page, and as a programmer I was excited for this challenge. Previous to this I had only tweeted from my own Twitter accounts, but knew that I loved twitter and thought I was #blessed when it came to my tweeting skills. I ended up growing our twitter following by over 300% as well as increasing our user interaction with our tweets.

I’m going to share a few of my tips…

1. Follow people who follow accounts similar to yours, or that have a related hashtag to your field in their twitter bio.

a. If they don’t follow back within a month I would unfollow them, because you don’t always want to be following significantly more people than follow you

2. Interact with accounts’ tweets. Someone may not be following you, but interacting with their tweets can help you get that follow.

3. Engage with other brands. Mutual brand boosting is helpful to both companies involved, this also increases who your tweets are being seen by.

4. Tweet about those silly holidays. When it’s national cat day tie that into your company(even a picture of someone at the company with a cat works), but use those trending hashtags in the post.

5. Interesting articles with a brief summary always to well. Those tweets do even when there is a picture and not the link to the article.

6. 80% work, 20% fun. A company’s twitter should be 80% about the company and related topics, and the other 20% should be fun things such as #MondayMotivation

7. Vary the times in the day you tweet. You can even set up systems to send out tweets at certain days and times. Make sure to tweet on the weekend