Book Review: Lean In

Lean In

I recently read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg in order to become more inspired. Many of my friends rave about this book, so I had to see for myself what it was all about. As printed on the book’s cover, Lean In is about “women, work, and the will to lead.” Sheryl Sandberg currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. In a male-dominated industry in Silicon Valley, Sandberg stands out as the the only female on Facebook’s leadership team. Over fifty percent of college graduates in the United States are women, but men still hold a majority of leadership positions in jobs. With her book, Sandberg highlights gender inequality in the workplace and offers advice to empower women with knowledge and confidence. In order for women to battle gender inequality and rise to the top at work, they have to lean in. To “lean in” means to be assertive and to become a leader, not a follower. Each chapter of Lean In discusses a different challenge, stereotype, or stigma that women face at work. There were three chapters that particularly stood out to me: Sit at the Table, Are You My Mentor?, and The Myth of Doing It All.

In Sit at the Table, Sandberg talks about how in many situations, women tend to hold themselves back and watch from the sidelines. Sandberg provides an example of a time she hosted a Silicon Valley executive meeting at Facebook, with the attendees consisting of mostly men and a few females. Instinctively, the men grabbed plates of food first and sat down at the large conference table in the room. In contrast, the women waited to grab their food second and chose to sit in the chairs on the side of room. Although the women were equal in position to the men at the meeting, they subdued themselves to spectators rather than participants. Sandberg asserts that despite their achievements and credibility, women experience self-doubt and feel as if they will be discovered as frauds at any moment. Women tend to judge themselves more critically and attribute success to external factors beyond their own abilities. In order for women to conquer their self-doubt, they need to be more assertive and confident with themselves and learn to sit at the table.

The second chapter that stood out to me in Lean In is Are You My Mentor? In this chapter, Sandberg explores the fact that women are actively seeking mentors. While men seek mentors to focus on managing a business, women seek mentors to focus on managing a career. Women attribute career success to having a mentor, who they see as someone who will help them find the perfect work/life balance. Sandberg argues that mentorship is important for both men and women, but it is harder for women to find mentors. There is a scarcity of female mentors who hold high positions in companies. In order to solve this problem, companies need to offer programs and encourage upper level females to mentor younger women within the company.

The third chapter that stood out to me was The Myth of Doing It All. Society places boundaries on women to either have a career or a family, but not both. Young women pursue their careers with the anticipation of sacrificing the chance to have a family. Sandberg proves this societal belief wrong by highlighting that women can have both a career and a family, but it often comes at a price. Women who choose to balance both a career and a family are naturally set up by society to fail. In order to overcome the barriers thrown at working mothers, women often have to make adjustments to their schedules and define specific times for work and family.

Throughout Lean In, Sandberg touched on a variety of topics that I could relate to concerning gender inequality in the workplace. I believe that women are often set up for failure in their careers as they are often forced to choose between a successful career or family. As someone who wants both, it was refreshing to gain Sandberg’s perspective on how to make it happen. I am a young female entering a male-dominated workforce, and I want to be equipped with the right mindset to launch a successful career. Reading Lean In was a helpful addition to my reading list and is something I think every female college student should read. Overall, gaining Sandberg’s advice and perspective on how women must fight gender inequality in their careers has empowered me, and I am finally ready to lean in.

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Tools & Tips for Making a Website

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make a website? We live in a digital era, where the Internet is a powerful resource that people can use to do just about anything. The world is quickly moving towards digital technologies, and there is a high demand for people in jobs with technical skills. Especially in the field of digital marketing, employers are looking for potential hires that are well-versed and experienced in both marketing and technology. Many colleges do not teach techical coding and design skills to marketing majors, so we often have to teach ourselves. Fortuantely, I was give the opportunity to learn web development skills through the New Media Institute at UGA. With these skills, I have coded several websites myself, including christinapaulk.com, where this blog is hosted on. Web development is such an important and essential skill for marketing majors, but many students overlook opportunities to learn it. Below are my tips and tools for novice web developers to prove that anyone can make a website—not just computer science majors!

1.Purchase Your Own Domain Name

I cannot stress enough on how important this first tip is. A domain is the web address type into a browser to find your website. Many people start building their blogs and websites on freemium hosting platforms such as WordPress and Wix, but opt in for the free version rather than paying a little extra to own their own domain name. As a result, many novice website owners end up with web addresses such as yournamehere.wordpress.com. Not only does this web address make it obvious that the site’s owner is a beginner, but is lengthy and unprofessional. If you are putting your website address on your LinkedIn and business cards, it is more impressive and professional if you own your own domain so go ahead an invest a little money into one. Good domains encompass the purpose of the website and are simple and to the point. Using your name is a good idea for professional career websites (ex: johnsmith.com). Here are some places you can purchase your own domain:

2. Learn How to Code

Learning how to code might seem difficult and scary, but I promise you it is not! Coding is not rocket science and is actually easier to understand than you think. As a novice web developer, you only need to learn these three coding languages to build an impressive website:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language): The language that describes the structure of a webpage.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): The language that describes the presentation of a webpage including fonts, layout, and colors.
  • JavaScript: The language that describes the animations and interactivity of a webpage.

There are a bunch of free websites online that provide interactive lessons that teach you how to code. Here are some of my favorites:

3. Use a Template

After you learn how to code, the quickest and easiest way to build your own website is to download a website template. With a template, all of the hard work of developing a website from scratch is already completed for you—all you have to do is fill in the blanks with your own pictures and content! I also suggest that you download a template that is adapted for responsive web design. What is that? Responsive web design is where you have a website where the content easily adapts and changes based on the viewing device and screen size. Mobile websites are just as important as desktop websites, so having a responsive website is pretty much expected these days. Here are some places to find free HTML website templates:

4. Learn Graphic Design 

Now that you have the basic skills to code, you need to make your website visually appealing to your visitors. Web developers that put thought into the visual design of their websites create websites that are more successful and engaging than websites where no thought was put into the visual design. Keep this tip in mind—less is more. Create visuals for your website that encompass simplicity and purpose. Don’t use too many contrasting fonts or colors and don’t clutter your website with unnecessary content. Develop a specific aesthetic design for your website and stick to it. Here are some online graphic design tools that are free alternatives to Photoshop:

Hopefully this post has provided you with useful tips and tools for novice web developers. Now it’s time for you to go out and make your own website!

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