Welcome to the Insider Knowledge series, where we showcase people who are doing cool or amazing or interesting things in IT and the tech industry. More than a profile, we want to know the nuts and bolts of a particular career path so that readers like you can see there’s more than one way to find a dream job in tech.
Cool Tech Person: Heather Zweig
Cool Tech Job: I’m a project manager at a spatial computing communications company called Pluto.
What does that mean in layman’s terms? Spatial computing is in its infancy in some ways. It’s the idea that computers will not be limited to laptops, tablets and phones. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the first hints at how our world will work, but I don’t believe that hardware we have today encompasses all that hardware will be capable of in the near future. My job is to help the team iterate and create an environment that allows for a healthy balance of productivity and passion. I communicate with both internal and external clients to ensure that future work is ready when it’s needed and proactively think and act to prepare for upcoming goals.
What makes your job cool? We are working in the future! We are thinking about how people will communicate in the world of spatial computing. When you no longer need to pull out your cell phone, how will people want to interact with their family and friends? What ways can we help humanity transcend physical location? Working with a group of people who are finding solutions to these questions is a pretty sweet gig.
How did you get to this position? I came to Pluto from a completely different industry. I was looking for a company that really listened to its employees and would allow me to grow my skills and explore my career path. I was connected to the founders via a friend and former boss who recommended them as a good culture fit. She was so right! I started in office management and then shifted to operations. It wasn’t until two years in that I discovered that the role of project manager would best appease my passion for applying my skills to work that I really loved.
What did you see yourself doing with your degree? I have an international studies degree. When I graduated, I had no idea that this is where my path would lead. I strongly believe that the degree is not a limiter in terms of what direction you can take.
I was drawn to the power of new technology and its ability to create an immersive experience. VR is so powerful and our brains are so incredible. To be able to transport a person anywhere in the world, or anywhere a creator has invented and actually feel like you are in it had me hooked from the very beginning.
What is the best piece of advice you want to share with young professionals starting out in AR/VR field? Volunteer with a local meetup chapter. They run on volunteers and if you can provide value to them, you’ve got an excellent in with the community. Put time in by networking and showing your skills off, and you’ll find jobs and connections that will set you up long term.
How do you stay up to date on the latest trends and insider info? Any favorite resources you can share? Slack and discord groups are my favorite ways to stay connected. Find your local slack or discord channels that align with your career goals, introduce yourself and dive in!
What are some ideas you had about the tech industry before you started your career? I had NO concept of the spatial computing industry before I started. It barely existed! I wasn’t scared to jump in to a new industry because I’ve shifted industries many times in my career. I realized a long time ago that it’s not about knowing things beforehand, it’s about coming to anything you do with an open and inquisitive mind.
What has surprised you about your career path in IT, or specifically AR/VR? I’ve been most surprised about how quickly the terrain changes in this field. There’s so much to get distracted by and some of the distractions are worth digging into. When you are solving problems for the future, you have to decide when to go with things that have worked in the past and when to try something new and exciting. There’s no way to know if you’ve done the right thing until you’re already doing it. That’s both rewarding and terrifying sometimes.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing about working in IT, what would it be? Learn to code! It’s my biggest ongoing priority puzzle. I’m focusing on learning about project management right now, but my next obstacle is learning some languages so I can even better understand my team.
Thanks Heather! Find Heather on LinkedIn.