Better Technical Interviews and the Inclusivity of Remote Work with Jocelyn James (#42)

We talk about Jocelyn's indirect path to software engineering, improving the tech interview experience, and how remote work promotes inclusivity.

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Jocelyn James is an engineering manager whose previous careers have included teaching, refugee services, and mental health research. As a disabled woman with a background in human rights, Jocelyn is passionate about inclusivity in engineering and ensuring that those with non-traditional routes into the field are not only included but celebrated.

Jocelyn lives in Manhattan with her 12-year-old Italian greyhound Florence, who rules the household despite not contributing to rent.

In our conversation, we talk about Jocelyn’s indirect path to software engineering, improving the tech interview experience, and how remote work promotes inclusivity.

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Show Notes

[00:00:52] Jocelyn’s background in sociology.
[00:03:07] The focus on human rights for Jocelyn’s Masters.
[00:03:46] Utilising artistic therapies to rehabilitate survivors of trauma.
[00:04:39] Realising the work may not provide income.
[00:04:52] Gaining a better understanding of the nature of working with NGOs.
[00:05:39] Working in social services.
[00:06:48] Becoming disillusioned with the sector.
[00:07:23] Working in education.
[00:07:36] Hitting a ceiling and the decision to explore tech.
[00:10:29] The challenging decision to pivot into another industry.
[00:11:10] The ongoing intent to find a way to combine her experience in both human rights and technology.
[00:11:51] Realising she could make a difference in human rights by approaching it in a different way.
[00:12:57] Jocelyn’s thoughts on bringing her two professions together.
[00:13:34] Jocelyn’s path to management.
[00:14:18] One year of interviews.
[00:16:56] Observations of gender disparity in the space.
[00:19:41] Other observations about the tech interview process.
[00:21:44] Realising she could make a difference by sitting on the other side of the interview table.
[00:24:31] Biases in hiring processes.
[00:26:38] Encouraging diversity in the workplace.
[00:28:37] What’s broken in the process.
[00:30:49] Where diversity and inclusivity begins in hiring.
[00:33:36] The side-industry of tech interview coaching and salary negotiation.
[00:34:53] The issues with white-boarding.
[00:38:16] The efficiency of building a system around catching outliers.
[00:40:16] Potentially weeding out the wrong people.
[00:41:27] Market demand will hopefully motivate change in the process.
[00:44:10] Remote work.
[00:46:27] The positive impact of remote work on chronic illness.
[00:49:46] The transition to remote work.
[00:50:53] The flexibility to work most efficiently.
[00:55:02] The juggle of chronic illness in traditional work environments.
[00:56:48] The system does not support those with disability or illness to contribute.
[01:00:36] Healthcare and its impact on health.
[01:02:29] Healthcare tied to employment.
[01:05:36] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[01:05:41] Artistic expression.
[01:08:13] Reading.
[01:09:33] Horror and Stephen King’s IT.
[01:13:11] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[01:16:40] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[01:17:05] There is a place for you in tech.
[01:18:02] On bootcamps.
[01:20:28] On internships and getting your first role.
[01:21:18] Jocelyn’s career progression.
[01:22:20] Wanting to share a realistic experience of changing careers.
[01:25:56] Being open to pivoting is a life skill.
[01:28:59] Choosing to do something for the money is valid.
[01:31:39] Finding out more about Jocelyn and their work.

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Find out more about Jocelyn James and their work

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