Youmna Rabie joined PEAK6 in May 2020, right after graduating from Berkeley. And I do mean right after. She took her last exam and then boarded a plane for Chicago. A pandemic and work-from-home prevented her from being in the actual office as she’d expected, but it certainly hasn’t dampened her curiosity, her drive, or her passion for helping other underrepresented tech and finance jobseekers. Youmna, a software engineer on the trading execution team and recent intern herself with PEAK6’s Technology Experience for Women, is on the other side of the hiring table—as a key member of our campus recruiting team.
As someone who’s recently been through the process, she discovered she had a valuable perspective to share: She knew what it’s like to be on the other side.
Challenges for women in tech
“When you’re interviewing for tech jobs, most of the interviewers are men. But some of the interviewing problems that are unique to women can go unnoticed by men, so it’s important to have women interviewers. There’s so much pressure on women in this industry, and when you’re the only woman being interviewed by three guys, it’s stressful. You don’t feel seen or represented. My presence as a woman is beneficial in helping us recruit a diverse team,” says Youmna.
Women in tech face “a lot of pressure and also a lot of impostor syndrome,” Youmna explains. “You feel like you need to prove yourself. Some people do that by working at a big-name company. I think women feel a lot of pressure to go down this path. “
In her own first-job decision-making, Youmna says, “I could have worked at a big name, but I didn’t think the big-name opportunities I was considering would include people and work that I’d enjoy. Certainly, they aren’t always mutually exclusive, but in my instance, it felt like they were.”
In the end, she went with culture. “I decided to pursue work and an environment I’d enjoy. That was my priority,” she says.
Why she’s drawn to recruiting
Youmna enjoys helping other women in tech think through why they’re making decisions they’re making. “I talk to potential interns about why I’m back full-time. When they’re undecided, I call them, chat about the offer, talk through their hesitations, and, I hope, help them clarify what’s the best fit for them.”
She’s also invested in getting to know them and to see if they’d be a fit with PEAK6’s team culture. “Culture is such a huge part of why I like my job. I want to help PEAK6 hire someone who can vibe with it, who wants to collaborate, contribute and have fun as part of a team.”
Having recently been through the hiring and decision-making process, Youmna has some advice for new grads.
4 tips for new grads
- Consider what matters to you. Is it having a big name on your resume, or having an impact? “What matters to me is to have an impact, own my product from start to finish, and share that experience with people who value that too,” says Youmna. “What do you hope to achieve and get out of an experience like this? Is it about money or moving up? Are you focused on education, ownership or something else?” asks Youmna.
- Assess what type of culture you will find most rewarding. “Some friends at tech firms feel a lot of negative competition, rather than supported and helped by peers. It isn’t always easy to get a clear read of this, but culture makes a big difference,” she advises. “Here it’s supportive and educational and helpful.”
- Be willing to share what you’re passionate about. “What do you do in your spare time? What issues do you care about? I always ask: ‘What is your company doing to empower women? What about environmental justice? Empowering people of color?’ I care about those and I would like to see that reflected in my employer.
- Be yourself. “Authenticity is so important. You can tell when someone’s being insincere. Also, it will help everyone make a better decision. You’re going to be yourself at work. There’s no point in pretending to be someone else,” she says.
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