Masha is the founder of Coding Blonde, a blog dedicated to empowering women in technology and breaking stereotypes. She is originally from Russia, but she has lived and studied in 5 countries by now. Her background is in Marketing and Market Research and she has worked at a few startups before joining Google, where she worked as part of the YouTube team helping creators with their content and business development strategies. Right now she works at the University of Colorado Boulder as a Global Entrepreneur in Residence while working on Coding Blonde. Masha’s mission is to introduce women to the different areas and dimensions of tech and help them find the right resources for them to learn more about it and to start their career in the industry.
Tell us a bit about Coding Blonde!
Coding Blonde is a multi-platform blog dedicated to empower women in technology - by making it a less intimidating field and giving them resources to learn more about it. I originally started it in 2015 when I was learning to code myself - and it has evolved so much since then (and so have I). I’m very excited for what’s to come and I really hope that I can help more women feel comfortable talking about technology and potentially make a career shift into this wonderful industry. We need more diversity of thought!
You transitioned from a business / marketing role to learning how to code - what motivated you to make the change? What advice would you give to anyone thinking of going through a similar transition?
It was out of interest and to challenge myself. I’ve been a nerdy child and technology always drew me to it, so I decided to learn its language(s)!
For anyone looking to learn how to code out of pure interest or for a career change I would recommend two things:
Think of fun projects/challenges that will keep you curious and make you want to practice no matter what. For example, I’ve always wanted to build a program that would notify me when the pair of shoes that I liked on a website would go on sale (before it’s too late!). I still haven’t gotten around to build it, but you get the idea - try to build something fun and what you would use yourself.
Don’t give up. Become friends with the bugs as if you listen to them they will teach you more than if your code was bug free from the start.
Who should invest in building a personal brand and why? Any tips for people just starting out?
Personal brands are always fun! My biggest advice here is to always have a “why” in mind. Why are you trying to build a personal brand? Is it to get into a particular job/course/community or is it because you truly believe the cause and want to contribute to society? Because if it’s the second option, you will do things and the branding will be a side effect, while if you’re doing it just to create a brand your actions might not be as authentic and people will feel that.
Find your “why,” your mission and your passion - and be authentic in your actions. The brand will follow.
You talk about breaking stereotypes throughout your content - what has worked for you? What do you think would help empower more women in tech?
In my experience showing a person that someone who is similar to them has achieved great things is very inspiring and empowering. And I believe that showing women diverse examples of incredible women is the best way to help them feel more confident and powerful - as they might see someone who is similar to them and that will inspire them to try things themselves.
What is something you’d like people to know about your job (that they probably don’t)?
I’m not a programmer! I love technology and I’m super passionate about getting more women into the industry, but I don’t code professionally. I’ve realized that my passion is in empowering others and connecting the dots. So I’m an entrepreneur, I run Coding Blonde half of my time and the other half is spent being a Global Entrepreneur in Residence at CU Boulder. No two days are the same for me and I’m very fortunate to meet incredible people every day.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Networking = making friends. Since English isn’t my first language I always thought of it as a specific activity that you needed to learn and practice, but it turns out things are pretty simple. And since I’ve started treating it as making friends, my life has become less stressful and my connections much deeper!
Top productivity hack?
Put it on your calendar. And/or write detailed to-do lists - nothing feels better than crossing things off!
Favorite thing to do for fun?
I love travelling and discovering new places. Also spending quality time with family (which is usually spent by being ridiculous and singing made up songs). Anything that will get me offline and get my creative juices flowing.
Best way to de-stress?
I love cooking - it’s my form of meditation!! Maybe one day I’ll share all of my pinterest boards with the world.