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Career Quick Look
Salary: $58,240* Education:
Years in Field: 3 B.S. Industrial Engineering & Operations Research
City/State: San Francisco, CA View Lisa Lin's Resume

"I think having an engineering background opened up a lot of opportunity for me because it shows that you have the capability to think analytically. A lot of companies are looking for engineering majors to recruit for consulting positions that aren't the straight and narrow engineering path."

"Don't be intimidated. It's easy to be intimidated when you're just thrust out into the professional world without any real work experience. I think that many women will just stay in the background and do what they're told because of this. But in order to progress you really need to not be afraid of taking risks sometimes and speaking your mind, and to feel comfortable initiating change."

Getting Started: Lisa Lin's studies at U.C. Berkeley focused on Semiconductor technology, but after doing some research in the field and interviewing people who were already working in that industry, she decided it wasn't quite for her. She just couldn't see herself being satisfied with the day to day activities that a semiconductor job would involve. She desired a greater variety of experiences. She wanted to travel and learn about different kinds of businesses and technologies. So Lisa decided to explore some more and see what opportunities she could find.

Education: Lisa graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. She chose Engineering by chance because she liked math and ended up loving the major. This degree gave her a good mix of engineering and business by focusing on manufacturing processes, efficiency, statistics and analysis, which gave her a firm base of knowledge. But much of the skills she uses today as a technical consultant she learned through on the job experiences. For example, her first job as a management consultant at Pricewaterhouse Cooper trained her in computer coding language, which was not covered in her program at Berkeley, but has served as a valuable new technology to assist in her current career. After working at a few more jobs to focus her career desires and initiating independent projects through business networking, Lisa decided set out on her own to enjoy the freedom of self-employment as a technical consultant.

Greatest Professional Achievement: At the last company Lisa worked for, she created a plan for the company's culture department [going forward] (what does this mean?). After working for the organization for shortly under a year, she wrote a proposal that brought together company athletic participation, community service events and internal and external networking events under one umbrella. Most of these activities had never been sponsored by the company prior to the proposal and Lisa saw a need for the company to support its employee's interests. In the end, she presented the plan to executive management and gained their support and a budget of $250,000 to roll the initiative out to all four offices. It was a rewarding experience for Lisa to see an organization change for the good of employee morale.

Barriers: Lisa is young for someone working in a professional field and so must sometimes work harder to gain credibility. She overcomes this potential problem by conscientious self-presentation. She is careful to present a polished and professional demeanor and be more aggressive up front about clearly communicating her ideas and standing her ground. But after the initial hurdle of making a first impression, Lisa functions as all professionals do: by overcoming daily hurdles as they present themselves.

Working with Men: Gender issues have not been a problem in Lisa's professional career. She noticed in school that fewer women were in her engineering courses, but it never intimidated her or held her back in any way. In the professional world, Lisa has also noticed that males tend to hold the more technical or managerial jobs while women tend to be in Human Resources and Public Relations. She says she is used to working mostly with men from college and it has never posed a problem for her.

Advice for Women: For other women interested in entering the field as a technical consultant, Lisa advises that you first take a career self-inventory to figure out exactly what type of work you can see yourself doing day to day. To be involved in the information technology field, you must love change and the unexpected and also be willing to travel, sometimes on very short notice. She says it is also important to possess the self-confidence to be able to discuss technical and business matters with Chief Executive Officers or top managers. She says technical consultants must also be flexible and be able to both deal with the tedium of programming while accepting constant change in the field. Lisa recommends that those interested in information technology take a class in programming as the first step to see if they're really interested in the field and if they are able to effectively think in the analytical and logical way that is required to be a successful developer.

Typical Workday/Environment: A typical day as a technical consultant depends on what stage of a project you're in. Overall, it involves communication between different groups of people to plan the needs of a particular project. Multi-tasking and planning ahead are essential to job performance. Lisa describes it as "fighting fires everyday." Lisa' is currently involved on a project to create an e-Commerce site for a cosmetics company. This involves back end programming for site features such as credit card processing and inventory control, and front end development of the Web site design. She plays a crucial role in the lauch of the site through quality assurance testing and validation of the site's functionality and content. Lisa works long hours, sometimes up to eleven hours a day and is often required to work on evenings or weekends to meet project deadlines. But while her hours are long, they are also flexible. The dress requirement for this type of work depends on what type of company you're working with and can range from casual to executive.

Career Ladder: Entry-level salary for a Web Developer varies greatly depending on where you live and what type of company you work for. Starting salaries generally range between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. Self-employment as a Web Developer can be slightly less stable than working for an established company and yearly salaries can be slightly lower, but the freedom and convenience it allows are a good trade-off for many. The title of Web Developer is a broad term allowing many options for career advancement. A designer can work up to programming or become Microsoft certified to work with computer hardware. Smaller companies offer more career flexibility with opportunities to do almost anything involved with running the business, but larger companies can sometimes be more stable and may offer more room to be trained and promoted.

Salary and advancement in the Information Technology industry largely depends on what job you're doing and who you're working with or for, but pay is generally quite lucrative. An independent contractor could charge from $30 to $100 per hour for their services. An entry-level position working for a company might command an income of $45,000 to $50,000 per year. There are various career paths one can ascend to from here, such as a consultant or manager and then senior consultant or senior manager. Salaries at this level range from $80,000 to $100,000 per year. As the Information Technology industry is so fast-paced and dynamic, the rate of your advancement mostly depends on your ambition, skill, and the company you work for. Working in an average sized company, it may take around four years to reach management level.

Professional Associations: None

Hobbies: Lisa remains active in her spare time by playing tennis, taking advantage of San Francisco nightlife, snowboarding and traveling when she can. She also has a passion for hip-hop dancing and 'enjoys performing with local groups.

*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Technical Consultant based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition


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