Venikunche

Veni Kunche

Software Engineer, Founder Diversify Tech

Veni is a coder, a maker, a founder, and a mom. After working as a software engineer for 15 years, she launched Diversify Tech, where she connects underrepresented people in tech to opportunities as well as helps companies hire them.

Transcript

[00:00:05] SY: Welcome to the CodeNewbie Podcast where we talk to people on their coding journey in hopes of helping you on yours. I’m your host, Saron. And today, we’re talking about how to build communities and diversify tech with Veni Kunche, Founder of Diversify Tech.

[00:00:20] VK: I felt very alone because I was the only woman, I was the only minority in almost all of my workplaces, and that also because I didn’t have a network of my own I just didn’t know things.

[00:00:31] SY: If you have a question for Veni after listening, don’t miss The Ask Me Anything Session she’s hosting on the CodeNewbie Community Forum. Just head to community.codenewbie.org and you’ll find her thread on our homepage and she’ll answer you directly in the comments. That’s community.codenewbie.org. In this episode, Veni talks about her struggles, landing her first coding job, often being the only woman of color at tech meetups in the past, and how she set out to Diversify Tech after this.

[MUSIC BREAK]

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[00:02:11] SY: Thanks so much for being here.

[00:02:13] VK: Thank you so much for having me.

[00:02:15] SY: So Veni, Diversify Tech is such an amazing resource. I’m so excited to have you on the show and I honestly cannot believe we have already had you on the show. But before we get into the great work that you’ve been doing, tell us about how you got into code and broke into tech in the first place.

[00:02:32] VK: So my inspiration was my dad. My dad was in tech. Initially, he was a mechanical engineer, but over time he somehow ended up in tech. So growing up, I didn’t have very many role models. So it was mostly my dad and the work he did. So I was almost like, “Oh, when I go to college, I’m going to go into tech.” I had no idea what it actually was, but that’s what I did. So when I got to college, I chose computer science as my major, and that’s where it all began.

[00:02:57] SY: So you chose computer science as your major. What was that like? What was your college experience like?

[00:03:03] VK: It ended up being much more difficult than I anticipated. I’m very much a hands-on person. I like to learn things by doing. I need to see the results. So that’s kind of how I work best. But with computer science, it was a lot of theory. It was building a lot of things that were behind the scenes and you can really see how the thing would end up or how it would be used. So I had some difficulty, but I made it through. And honestly, I feel like once I got my first job and worked on it like a real-world problem, that’s when it kind of like everything clicked in place for me.

[00:03:39] SY: And that is probably the biggest complaint I’ve heard about the computer science degree, right? Is that it’s very theoretical, not enough application, not as modern as things that you’d learn from just online resources today or bootcamp today. So I’m wondering, did those theoretical things come in handy? Did they apply at all to the kind of development you’ve done previously?

[00:04:04] VK: It’s hard to say. I feel like having that background probably helped me move faster when I did get to working on real-world applications, but I did have to learn a lot of things on my own. I was not taught anything about web applications in college. So when I took volunteer opportunities to figure out how to develop web application, like I learned PHP, I learned HTML, all of that I learned on my own. That was not taught in college. In college, I learned Java Programming. So I understood the concept of programming, so that definitely did help.

[00:04:37] SY: Was it worth that degree?

[00:04:40] VK: I think that’s a hard question to answer because I think having the degree gives you like a credential for employers. So having that, I think, helped me get jobs and helped employers see me as somebody hirable. I did my computer science degree in 1999 to 2003. So it was a very, very different time at the time. There were no bootcamps. There weren’t a lot of online resources to learn. So that was one of the few ways to kind of gain experience and show that I could program.

[00:05:10] SY: That’s a great point because that computer science degree is probably I would guess worth a lot more back then than it probably is now just because there are so many other opportunities now and there are so many other competing ways that you could learn that are arguably more modern and maybe a little bit more application focused. So yeah, the value of the CS degree has probably changed a lot just over the years as well. That’s a really good point.

[00:05:34] VK: Yeah, I agree. I guess going back to who I am too, I’m a minority, I'm woman, I’m a woman of color, and all of those I think also play into having all these credentials too. Because when I did start working, I actually noticed that none of my coworkers have CS degrees.

[00:05:52] SY: Oh, interesting!

[00:05:53] VK: They all had moved into the space just by learning on the job. But unfortunately, I think for me, because of who I am, I think the requirements are like different for me.

[00:06:04] SY: What made you say that?

[00:06:06] VK: I feel like I’m measured at a different level. If I didn’t have a CS degree, I don’t know if the companies would have believed that I did know how to program. So I think the CS degree helped me get a little bit more validation that companies may have been looking for.

[00:06:20] SY: Right. Right. Right. So let’s dig into those companies a little bit. What was that first job out of college like for you?

[00:06:27] VK: So my first job was actually an internship at a financial institution. They build financial tools for credit unions. And my first task I think was to build a .NET tool where I would take information from different credit reports, like TransUnion credit reports, and they were all in different formats. So my task was to take all of that data and get that into this credit union organization system so that it was all formatted the same way. The experience itself was fun. It was the first time I was applying all that I had learned to real world application and I was helping customers. That was great. Unfortunately, like even though I had a computer science degree, I did take quite a bit tough time to find this first role for me. So I had to do lots of different volunteer opportunities to gain experience till I found this first internship.

[00:07:23] SY: And what happened after that internship?

[00:07:25] VK: After the internship, I got a position as an IT specialist at the US Geological Survey. I built Java web applications for them. Our client was the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, and they had a program called Endangered Species Program. And part of my job was to help this program put out information about pesticide usage because certain pesticides can harm and endanger certain species. So we helped the EPA put out this information and people who are using pesticides could go up on the website, search the active ingredients that were in these pesticides to see if they’re good to use or if they’re allowed to use or not. So that was my first job at US Geological Survey.

[00:08:12] SY: And so the US Geological Survey it sounds like was your first official, full-time developer job. Is that right?

[00:08:19] VK: Yes.

[00:08:20] SY: So one of the big things that we talk about in the community and one of the big concerns in the community is how long it takes to get that first job and how many applications do you apply, how many interviews do you have, et cetera. How long did it take you to land that first gig?

[00:08:33] VK: It took a long time for me. I think it took about two and a half years or so. In the meantime, I did freelance work. I did internship. I volunteered for friends’ startups to gain experience. One of the issues that I had was that I lived in Wisconsin, which is very, very not diverse at all. And honestly, I didn’t even get interviews and nobody called me for interviews. I would apply and apply. I sent so many applications, but I would never get a call back. And I went to my career services, asked them like, “Look through my resume. What am I doing wrong?” And one of the recruiters pointed out that maybe I should put US citizen at the bottom of my name. So my actual name is Krishna Kunche.

[00:09:16] SY: Okay.

[00:09:16] VK: And it sounds very foreign. So all these companies may think that they can’t hire me.

[00:09:21] SY: Interesting.

[00:09:22] VK: Because I may not be eligible to work or they might need to sponsor a visa. So he said that, “Why didn’t you add US citizen at the bottom of your resume?” And at that time, I didn’t know how recruiting, all of that work. I didn’t understand the biases in the industry. So I was like, “Okay, I’ll try this.” And I actually did start getting…

[00:09:41] SY: Whoa!

[00:09:42] VK: There was a difference after that.

[00:09:44] SY: That’s disappointing.

[00:09:46] VK: Yes.

[00:09:48] SY: Oh my goodness! Wow! Something as simple as, I mean, we know this, right? There are plenty of studies that say, I think it’s like the more western your name sounds, the more likely you are to get a call back, but you’re the real life example of that. Wow!

[00:10:03] VK: Yeah. And it was very stark for me because I lived in Wisconsin where my name probably stood up very much.

[00:10:09] SY: Yeah. And that’s, again, kind of reflective of the times because nowadays I assume there’s way more remote positions that you can apply for. Right? So you would not have been geographically constrained today the way that you probably were back then. So that’s also something that’s interesting to consider.

[00:10:25] VK: Yes, for sure.

[00:10:26] SY: So for that role, tell me about the kind of tools, languages, applications that you use to get that done?

[00:10:34] VK: It was a while ago. We used Java for the back end. For the front end, I think we used Java Server Pages, jQuery, combination of that. And at that time, the idea I think we used was Eclipse for writing Java applications. And there was no GitHub. So I can’t remember what we did for maintaining the code and everything.

[00:10:56] SY: Right. Right. And how did you learn those things? Were those things that were learned primarily on the job or did some of that come from college?

[00:11:03] VK: I learned a lot of it from the job and from other volunteering that I had done. Previous to this job, I was volunteering for this organization. We had to build PHP web applications for them. So through that, I learned HTML, CSS, and PHP. So I kind of understood how the web works and so on. So I was able to apply to this job. And Java, I had learned in college. So just be a kind of like wing it and learn on the go.

[00:11:33] SY: So now let’s get into Diversify Tech. Let’s start all the way at the beginning. What is it?

[00:11:38] VK: So Diversify Tech is a newsletter, which connects under-represented people in tech to career opportunities. So it goes out every week. I share scholarships, jobs that are posted on our job board, tech events that are happening around the US. The reason I built Diversify Tech is because, as I said, I grew up in Wisconsin, I felt very alone because I was the only woman, I was the only minority in almost all of my work places. And also because I didn’t have a network of my own, I just didn’t know things. I didn’t know that there were tech events happening. There was no meetup even back then. So it was very hard to build your network. And similarly, like even now there’s people who are underrepresented, sometimes feel alone whenever they are at their workplace or their college and so on. So I wanted to create a resource that would tell them, “Hey, there are scholarships here for you. There are companies that are looking for people like you.” So I wanted to build something where everybody can come and find something for themselves.

[00:12:45] SY: And how did it all start? What was the moment where you said, “I need to do something about this”?

[00:12:52] VK: A few years back, I kind of got tired of the corporate world. I kept switching jobs quite frequently every two years, and I couldn’t find my place. So I said, “You know what? I think I wanted to start my own business.” However, I had no idea how to do that. So I kind of like took a year off and I said, “This is like my independent study. I don’t want to go to college for a business school, but I’ll learn on my own.” That’s what I told myself. And it ended up being that I had no idea what I was doing and realized that it’s going to take much longer. So I went back to work. But in the meantime, I was actually volunteering for the Women Who Code DC Chapter here, and through that, I met so many, so many amazing women who were in tech. And it was the first time that I had met people like me. Even though we weren’t working in the same workplace, it was cool to meet so many others who look like me.

[00:13:46] SY: Absolutely.

[00:13:46] VK: And one of the things I wanted to do was since I have been in the field for so long, I started mentoring folks. I would do Google Hangouts and I would just set like 30 minutes every day or so, every week or so and chat with people. And one of the things I noticed is that everybody was having similar issues in their career. And after a point, I thought, “Okay, this is not very scalable to just do office hours.”

[00:14:12] SY: Right. Right.

[00:14:12] VK: So I said, “Whatever I’m sharing, why don’t I share it to folks through a newsletter?” Through that idea, I started a newsletter prior to Diversify Tech called Code with Veni, where I was going to share things I was working on and also things that I thought were cool that other people were working on. That’s how the idea came about. And as time went on, the newsletter grew to like 1500 members or so and I started receiving requests for sponsorships or like companies wanted to post jobs. That’s when I thought, “I have been trying to start my own business and I think I started something here.” So that’s when I kind of like use whatever I learned for the Code with Veni newsletter and started Diversify Tech from that.

[00:14:54] SY: Interesting. So is it that Diversify Tech was Code with Veni and it was a name change or was it a different product altogether?

[00:15:02] VK: I made it a different product because Code with Veni, I did want it to be tied to just my name. So the branding didn’t feel right and then also Code with Veni, I had made it specifically for women in tech. And as time went on, I realized there are so many groups that are under-represented in tech. So I wanted something a little bit more inclusive than just for women. And the other thing was Code with Veni was more inspirational. So I wanted to inspire women to get into tech. It was more like stories about other women doing well in tech and so on. So it was more inspirational. Diversify Tech, I wanted it to be more actionable, like, “Okay, if you’re looking for a job, here’s how you do it if you’re looking for a scholarship.” So I turned it into more of an actionable thing than just inspiration.

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[00:16:37] SY: So you said that you’re having all these conversations with all these women and the Women Who Code group and doing all these mentoring sessions. What were some of the topics that kept coming out? What were some of the issues that it seemed like everyone had in common?

[00:16:50] VK: A lot of the issues were, if there were beginners, it was more that, “Can I do this?” was the question. So they felt like, because they didn’t see anybody like themselves, they felt like, “Is this for me?” They had a lot of self-doubt about, “Is this for me?” I was giving them more of a reassurance that, “Yes, if this is something that interests you that you could definitely do well.” So I was giving a lot of assurance in that way. And the other one was other folks who are struggling with their resumes or putting their portfolios together to apply to jobs. So it was more focused on folks who are basically code newbies.

[00:17:30] SY: And were these issues that you had personal experience with? Were these struggles that you’d had either before or earlier in your career or maybe even during those mentoring sessions?

[00:17:42] VK: Yes. I definitely could relate to them, like I definitely struggled when I was starting out. I didn’t have mentors. I didn’t have resources that I could use. I didn’t have guidance. I didn’t have anybody to like talk through query questions. So that was like a bit of a struggle for me. So I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. And I found that these women were going through the same thing. They didn’t have mentors or connections because they could be the first person in their family who’s going into tech or their circle and they didn’t have anybody in their network to talk to. So I could relate to a lot of those things that they were going through.

[00:18:20] SY: So I know that you have sponsors on your newsletter. And one thing that I’ve always appreciated and you tweet about this every once in a while is that you are very selective with the sponsors that you work with and you don’t just take anyone’s money and you want to make sure that it’s actually a good place to work and it’s a place that you feel you can represent confidently. But how do you know that? How do you know whether a company is going to be toxic or if it’s going to be a safe place for underrepresented people in tech?

[00:18:51] VK: This is definitely hard to figure out if I actually passed on my sponsorships a little bit, I’ve been doing more of the job board for now, but it’s definitely a hard problem to figure out. A few ways that I’ve done is I research, like behind the scenes, especially for sponsors, like how are their employees talking about them on social media, is there any news that came out recently that talked about how this company is. Sometimes there are different Slack communities I’d go on and ask them, “Hey, what do you think of this company?” Because there are private communities, people are okay sharing about how they are and I’ve actually avoided quite a few companies by just asking other members what they think of the company. I do the same thing, a similar thing for the job board because trying to research each company takes a lot of time. So what I’ve done is our job board is more of like an application, like similar to how candidates apply to companies. I’ve kind of like the reversed that. So companies come in and tell us what they’re actually doing to diversify their company and I ask them for their demographics, so like what does their makeup looked like right now, how many women are working in tech at their company, how many people of color. So I asked all of those details. And looking at the application themselves, I think the companies who are not truly there yet won’t post as much and people who are doing the work and are comfortable are likely to fill all of that information. And I also asked for a lot of different things, like, “What’s the salary of a position? What is the interview process?” So I feel like companies who are trying would know the answers to these questions. So that’s one way to filter them.

[00:20:37] SY: So one of the things that I find very interesting about Diversify Tech is that even though it has this really positive mission and it’s all about the people and it’s all about empowerment, it’s not a nonprofit and people might assume that an organization like yours would for sure be a nonprofit, but it’s not. It’s actually a for-profit organization. Very similar to CodeNewbie. We’re also an LLC. We’re not a nonprofit. And I’m wondering, what led you to that decision? Because I know that people can feel a little bit funny about combining money with doing good. Unfortunately, those don’t always go together. So I’m wondering, tell me about your decision-making process and making it a for-profit company versus a nonprofit organization?

[00:21:22] VK: So I’ve volunteered for nonprofits in the past and I kind of vent away with the bad feeling from that experience because not all nonprofits are like this, but the ones I’ve worked at, it felt like the volunteers were doing a lot of work and they were never actually paid. So things like that that didn’t feel right to me. So even now people sometimes assume Diversify Tech is a nonprofit and they volunteer their time. And I say, “Hey, I want to take you as a volunteer. If needed, I’ll pay you for it.” But that’s one aspect of it that I didn’t like about nonprofits. It goes with the whole mission of Diversity Tech, but people need to be paid for their work and so on. So that’s one thing that I was concerned about. And the other thing is that it’s great that Diversify Tech is helping candidates and so on, but I’m also doing it for myself and I wanted something that would sustain me and I also wanted something that was flexible and would fit into my lifestyle. I’m close to 40 now. I’ve been in tech for a while and I wanted to move away from the corporate world because I wanted more free time. I didn’t want to spend all of my time just working, especially not over 40 hours. So I wanted something that I could create, that I could customize for my lifestyle. Those are the two things that played a part.

[00:22:46] SY: So what’s your advice for people who also want to start building communities and fight the good diversity and inclusion fight but don’t want to go to the nonprofit route?

[00:22:55] VK: I think for growing the community, I’d say think about people who are the most marginalized first to see what would be helpful to them, make a safe place for them and grow from there. And in terms of the business side, I think it depends on the product that you’re building, plus the kind of business that you want. I believe that founder product fit is a huge thing. So do you want to build a business that has a lot of employees? Do you want to build a business that’s mostly you or with a small team? Why are you building a business? What is your motivation? So thinking of all of that I think will help figure out the business model and the amount of work you put into it and so on. For it to be profitable and monetization and all of that, I think it depends. So for me, one of the things I’m trying to do is help underrepresented people in tech, so I didn’t want to create any barriers for them. So that’s why my newsletter, everything’s free. I would never charge for it. I know some communities have paid peers where they get extra perks. I didn’t want to do that because that felt against my mission. So I looked for where can I monetize and that’s when I thought, “Okay, companies are looking to hire, are looking to advertise.” So that’s where I started thinking about monetizing on that side.

[00:24:22] SY: So you’ve been in tech for a while, went to college in the late 1990s, early 2000s. And so I’m wondering, how has the diversity and inclusion movement shifted over time? What did it look like back then if there was a movement? And what does it look like now?

[00:24:39] VK: When I started, I don’t think there was any kind of movement. I think women, minorities who are there I think kind of just went off and did our own thing and there wasn’t much of a movement to bring all of us together or to help companies include us more. I honestly didn’t think there was any moment at all till I moved to the DMV area, DC, Maryland, Virginia area. When I moved here about six years ago, that’s when I found out that there’s like Women Who Code and all of these other organizations who are helping women in tech. And like six years ago, it was cool that there was so much support, but one of the things I did notice was that all of these women in tech communities were not including women of color or if they were this community is for diversity, they weren’t including like the LGBTQ individuals. There were a lot of other groups who are not being included. So that’s one thing that I’ve seen a big shift in, in the past five years. Now there are more organizations, like there’s Out In Tech and there is Techqueria for Latinx in Tech and there is Black Tech Pipeline for black folks in tech. So there are like so many different organizations that have formed in the past few years, which is great. I think we’re moving in the right direction, trying to include more and more groups who are underrepresented.

[00:26:04] SY: So we had a really great episode a while ago with Aubrey Blanche, who was the Director of Equitable Design at Culture Amp. And we talked about how a lot of companies’ diversity efforts just ends up leading to hiring more white women specifically. Right? So not being as inclusive as we’d like to see. So I’m wondering over the years, have you seen that pattern in your own work? Is that a phenomenon that you’ve experienced? What are your thoughts on that?

[00:26:31] VK: Yes. So one of the reasons I did move away from just helping women in tech to including more groups is because I noticed that a lot of the women in tech communities that I was part of, I was one of the only women of color. So all these companies who were trying to diversify the companies, they were going to these women in tech committee and these communities happen to be mostly white women. So the result was that the hiring everything was helping mainly white women. I think now because of all these different organizations, I hope the companies are discovering that that’s what’s been happening and they need to look at more different types of organizations and communities.

[00:27:18] SY: Coming up next, Veni talks about whether or not the uptake in companies pledging to Diversify Tech or an earnest or whether it’s just marketing theatrics after this.

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[00:28:34] SY: Do you think that with the new wave of remote work that came from the pandemic and all that’s happened in the last year, do you think we’ll see more diverse recruitings since as we mentioned earlier, there’s no geographic constraints anymore, anyone can apply to anywhere? Do you feel like that remote trend that I hope stays, do you think that’s going to affect diversity in a positive way?

[00:28:57] VK: I think so, and I very much hope so. By our job board, I’ve definitely noticed a significant change in the kinds of jobs that are being posted. When I started, it was in 2018, I was still getting jobs that were specific to locations like New York or California. And in the last year or so, since the pandemic, I’ve been getting a lot more remote jobs. Like right now, I feel like about 80% of the jobs are remote. So that’s been a good shift because then our members can apply to any of these jobs instead of being restricted to locations. So I really do hope so that this trend stays.

[00:29:34] SY: As we know, last year was a really big year in terms of conversations about race and equity and systemic racism with everything that happened with George Floyd and all that and Black Lives Matter. There has been a huge increase, at least external increase in companies specifically getting involved in joining the conversation. Have you seen an increase within Diversify Tech? Have you seen more companies using your services, more companies taking steps to actually make their companies diverse and inclusive? Or do you think it’s mostly marketing theatrics?

[00:30:10] VK: I’ve definitely noticed a big difference in Diversify Tech. When I started Diversify Tech in 2018, it was fairly new. So I didn’t have that many customers. 2019, it was slowly growing and I would get about 20 job listings per month. That was the average in 2019. And then in 2020, I saw a huge increase like in June of last year it like doubled even more than that. I used to get about 20 on average, then all of a sudden I was getting 80 job postings per month.

[00:30:38] SY: Wow!

[00:30:39] VK: So I think that awareness definitely has been spreading and has been increasing, which is great, but I think only now I think I will see more if that will stay because I have had some comments from employees that, “Oh, my company was all about diversity and inclusion in the middle of last year and now they’re not trying as hard anymore.” So I’ve definitely been hearing that, but for Diversify Tech itself, it’s been increasing more and more. As I was saying, I was getting 80 job postings per month. Now I’m getting about 100 to 120 per month. It’s definitely been increasing more and more. But it is hard to tell for me if the companies have really learned the lesson and are they making changes on the inside too or are they doing it for show? That’s a very hard thing for me to gauge. So I hope they are looking internally and working towards more actual diversity and inclusion instead of just to show.

[00:31:39] SY: So what do you think the future of diversity and inclusion in tech looks like? What are the things that tech has to work on to be better?

[00:31:48] VK: I hope that we move in the direction of more and more companies learning and applying the lessons and so on, but I do hesitate to say anything about the future because I think there are still a ton more companies who are not realizing what’s going on or they may have said or they may have, as we were saying, like just done marketing and thought that the job was done. So there’s like definitely different sections, different groups from these companies. Some companies are definitely trying hard. They’re making actual change and moving forward, but there are a lot of companies who just did on the surface marketing and I think they think the work is done. So it’s like, “Okay, we tried. Nothing happened and we’re going to go back to doing our whole thing.” So there’s a group of companies who are definitely doing that. So I hope with all of the different communities that more awareness is broad, but I think we still have a long way to go for companies to fix the issues internally.

[00:32:48] SY: And what’s the future of your company, of Diversify Tech?

[00:32:52] VK: With Diversify Tech, my goal is always to make sure that I’m serving our subscribers well. So one of the things I am working on doing is all of these job listings, all of these companies that have reached out, I’m going to go back and ask our members, is it having an impact? Are their interviews going well? Are the salaries that they said they would offer, are they right? So I’m going to do a little bit of study to see if I’m making the right impact. I wanted to wait a little bit before I do that because interviewing all of that takes time and also with the pandemic slowing down, I wanted to see if companies are still treating our members right. So I want to get a little bit more feedback on that and based on that make improvements or basically like not work with certain companies who haven’t been treating our candidates right. And the other thing I’ve been working on, so right now our newsletter serves mostly folks in the US. We are launching a newsletter for folks in Europe. We’ve been getting a lot of companies from Europe who want to reach our members who will join that community and I’m going to launch that newsletter in the next two weeks.

[00:34:05] SY: Wow! That’s exciting. Now at the end of every episode, we ask our guests to fill in the blanks of some very important questions. Veni, are you ready to fill in the blanks?

[00:34:24] VK: Yeah.

[00:34:25] SY: Number one, worst advice I’ve ever received is?

[00:34:28] VK: For Diversify Tech, I’ve gotten a lot of startup word wise, but unfortunately it’s not all relevant to me. It may be good advice for other startups. So I think one of the things I keep in mind is that I should take advice from my customers and not anybody doing outside of what it isn’t.

[00:34:45] SY: Tell me about the most irrelevant thing someone has advised you.

[00:34:49] VK: Someone told me to go to a pitch competition.

[00:34:52] SY: Oh, interesting!

[00:34:53] VK: And I was like, “Oh, I’m not looking for funding you.” Diversify Tech is pretty lean. So I don’t need that much funding, but that’s what other startups are doing. You should do it too kind of place.

[00:35:07] SY: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Number two, best advice I’ve ever received is?

[00:35:13] VK: One of my mentors advised me to keep a log of whatever work that I do every day. And I started that habit a few years back and I just note down whatever I worked on for the day. And when I was in the corporate world, I used to look through it every month and kind of go update my LinkedIn profile, my resume, and everything because I have such a hard time finding a good job. So I was always like, “If I ever need to look for a job, I want to make sure that I remember everything that I’m working on and to keep my things up to date.”

[00:35:43] SY: Okay. Number three, my first coding project was about?

[00:35:47] VK: My first coding project was in high school. We learned HTML and we were asked to make a simple website about ourselves. So it was just a website with information about me, what my hobbies are and where I came from and things like that.

[00:36:05] SY: Number four, one thing I wish I knew when I first started to code is?

[00:36:09] VK: One thing I wish I understood was that the primary purpose of coding is use it to build products and to help your users and your customers. At the beginning, I was very much caught up in the technology like, “Oh, I’m a Java expert. That’s all I’m going to stick to.” I used to think like that, but over time I realized is that the tech is cool and everything, but that’s kind of behind the scenes and users don’t really care about all of that. All they care about is if the product is doing the work for them. So I wish I understood that earlier.

[00:36:47] SY: Well, thanks again for joining us, Veni.

[00:36:48] VK: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:36:56] SY: This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. You can reach out to us on Twitter at CodeNewbies or send me an email, hello@codenewbie.org. Join us for our weekly Twitter chats. We’ve got our Wednesday chats at 9 P.M. Eastern Time and our weekly coding check-in every Sunday at 2 P.M. Eastern Time. For more info on the podcast, check out www.codenewbie.org/podcast. Thanks for listening. See you next week.

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