Everyone has a story. Within tech, we’re often fed a single narrative of “the techie.” Usually, a hoodie-wearing bro, a hacker, and, well, you know the rest. Our Behind the Techie video interview series is a counter narrative, showcasing the array of techies you encounter on a daily basis. Whether it’s your homegirl that works at a top tech startup or a friend that somehow fell into tech in a roundabout way, here are the stories you rarely hear but need to know.
Meet Datrianna Meeks, Senior Product Designer at Spotify.
Currently, what album are you listening to? Why?
I'm currently listening to two albums on repeat: CTRL by SZA and H.E.R. Vol II by H.E.R. I'm an R&B kind of girl and both of these albums fall in the smooth, chill realm that I like. Whether I'm trying to be productive or just unwind, these albums get me through.
Stateside or abroad, where is your favorite place to visit? What draws you to that place?
One thing I've learned from traveling is that the destination is probably the least important aspect of a trip. I really care about who I'm traveling with. My favorite destination so far has been Seattle, which isn't the most exciting place I've been, but I traveled with my girlfriend and we had an amazing trip. It rained most of the days we were there and that didn't stop our exploration or fun.
What is your favorite tech product?
My Playstation 3. I love video games and I was so excited to get one around the holidays last year because I had time to binge on my games for a few weeks over my holiday vacation.
What's the first word that comes to mind when describing you?
Silly. It's the secret side of me that not many people know about, but I'm quite silly and playful. Also, who doesn't love a good laugh?
What's the one thing you can't live without?
ASOS.com! I love shopping and it's way more fun now because the dress code in my office is casual, so I can really express myself through fashion.
People often ask, where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years. Let's bring it to 2018. Where do you see yourself at this point next year?
This is a great question because one year out is about as far as I can plan. That said, a year from now I want to have given talks about the work I'm doing and get more involved in the podcast space. These things might seem small, but a year ago I had no idea I'd be where I am today so, honestly, I'm excited to see where the next year takes me.
What's one skill you wish you'd learned sooner?
I wish I'd learned to share my work and ideas sooner. The last few years I've had many reminders that I need to share my work with others and let people know what I'm interested in. I have always assumed that sharing those things would make me a burden to other people, but the more I progress in my career the more I see that sharing work and interests is how people get new opportunities and relationships. Lately, I've been practicing this life hack of assuming people care about my perspective and what I'm up to. This allows me to share without having to second guess myself and it's led to some fruitful outcomes.
What's one skill you plan to learn by the end of the year?
How to craft a killer conference talk!
What has been your biggest career challenge thus far? How did you handle it?
My biggest career challenge has been feeling comfortable being myself. This is an ongoing challenge, but I've taken many steps to overcome it. I started by figuring out what kind of career I was passionate about and, as a result, I transitioned to design. Becoming a designer made me more comfortable sharing my opinions because I want to make sure my voice is reflected in the work I do. After I changed careers, I focused on finding a work environment that would not only value my unique perspective but challenge me so that I can continue to learn who I am and what I bring to the world. So much of working is about external factors and I want to get to the point where they matter less to me and how I see myself.
Do you prefer to ‘turn up’ or ‘turn down?’
Turn up, but this year I've been really focused on finding the right turn down methods for me. My turn up usually consists of visiting new bars and restaurants in New York and traveling. This year, my time spent turning down increased drastically. I started doing hot yoga and after thinking that yoga was an activity that wasn't for women like me, I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed it.
Video by Justin Gomez