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cover of Episode 3 : Making Your March to the Top
Episode 3 : Making Your March to the Top

Episode 3 : Making Your March to the Top

00:00-10:45

EP3 of Kode and Kolor, we are excited to welcome back Nicole dei to the show! In this episode, Nicole will be sharing her experiences growing up in a predominantly white town and how attending a diverse college helped pave the way for her success in the tech industry. Nicole will discuss the impact that exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences had on her development as a software engineer and how it prepared her for the challenges she faced as a Black woman in tech.

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The speaker discusses growing up in a predominantly white town and facing microaggressions and racism. They share how they started speaking up for themselves and advocating against the use of racial slurs. They express gratitude for attending a diverse college and how it shaped their life. The speaker then talks about their current job as a senior program manager at Spotify, working with black creators and podcasters. They emphasize the importance of providing funding and resources for podcasters and building a supportive community. They mention some of their favorite black podcasts on Spotify and encourage the listener to explore more podcasts. The conversation ends with a discussion about job prospects in the tech industry and the speaker's view on dream jobs. All right, so can you talk about a little bit of like where you grew up? I know you grew up in Mount Olive, which is like Northwest Jersey, kind of, like a rose area. Like, how was that growing up? How was the population? It was very white, and I am not. So, that was that. It was, it was so weird. It was so weird. Now looking back at it as like a grown adult, truly being able to count all the black people in my entire school on two hands is like actually insane to me. But like, I think my, I would call it strategy with growing up there, was to like align myself to the majority, meaning like the white majority. So I had a lot of white friends. I hung out with them. But I think when it came to senior year, and I knew my freedom was coming, freedom being college, I started to like actually be myself. I just started speaking up for myself. I started calling out the microaggressions. People were like, what's gotten into you? I'm like, what's gotten into me? It's all this built up frustration dealing with all this for the last whatever year. Even from me being from Sarival, like we're definitely not as white populated as you guys in Mount Olive, but we are definitely also a very, very, very white town. My friends were saying the N-word. Everyone was like saying the N-word in songs. And when I had to say, stick up for myself and be like, okay, like, hey guys, please don't say the N-word. Like, I don't think it's okay. It'd be the, you're being an angry black girl. Like, why are you being so aggressive? But like, what is aggressive about me telling you not to say the N-word when you're clearly not a black person? Like, if I'm not, even in me myself, I feel to this day, I'm comfortable using the N-word because I'm traumatized to the fact of how many people growing up were saying it and just throwing the word so loosely around. And like such a white school. Like, it's just crazy to me. Yeah, it's insane. I definitely feel like you staying up for yourself for your senior year is very interesting. I feel like that's like a perfect time because like, what do you have to lose at that point? Like, do you have four years of college coming up? Like, you're going to leave all these people and at the end of the day, like, their microaggressions and their undertone of racism is going to catch up to them at the end of the day. Exactly. Do you think that helped you in a way to get where you are today? Like, do you have any regrets? Like, do you wish you lived in a more diverse community? Or are you just grateful for how everything panned out? Honestly, I'm grateful because that's what led me to apply to the University of Maryland because I had such a lack of diversity growing up. I was like, I need to go to a school with like a decent black population. And I think at the time it was like 15% black, which like, for a huge public school, that's like a lot of black people. And I think for me, going to Maryland, like really forged so many steps. It's where I pledged my sorority. It's where I did journalism. I was close to DC. So I had like all these journalism internships that were like literally on the Metro. So like, I honestly don't think my life would be what it is today if I, you know, didn't go through what I went through and chose Maryland and did all of that. Yeah, it's like everything happens for a reason. As soon as I got to school, everything, I was just in the black community. And I will say, I didn't go to an HBCU, but I went to like a pretty diverse PWI. So there was still that balance. Yeah, it's very similar to Rutgers actually. The Rutgers and UMD demographics. Yeah, so I didn't, I don't, I think it's like, because we're black, it's like, we don't have to prove our blackness. You know, like there's so many different types of black girls. So many of my friends also grew up in the suburbs with white people. Some grew up in Baltimore. Like everyone comes from different places. And I think like our community is more accepting than we think at times. And it's also like, we're all here at college trying to have a good time. No one's trying to like police anyone's blackness. Like it was just so welcoming and so nice. That's awesome. Yeah, I definitely can see how that is. All right, Nicole, what is your favorite thing about your job? I think my favorite thing about my job is that I like directly- I didn't even ask you fully. What do you do fully for your job? So I'm a senior program manager at Spotify and I'm on this new team. And basically like I work with black creators and podcasters and our team helps fund their content. It's like, we're really trying to show that Spotify is like a premier destination for podcasters and that this is a place where you can like sustainably be a podcaster and this could be your like full-time job. So I've got marketing teams and production teams to kind of source out different creators and provide the funding so that they can actually create their podcast and then work with marketing to boost that as well. Outside of the actual content, like we do creator events and creator activations and programs to really foster that community. And then also like educate creators on the different products at Spotify and how they could use them to benefit their podcast. Yeah, I don't think Spotify did podcasts until like maybe a couple of years ago. But before it was just Apple Podcasts. And I honestly didn't really hear about Spotify podcasts until like 2020. Yeah. And then I knew that Spotify had Apple Music and both their podcasts together. So I think it's very, very like interesting how Spotify has blown up on a podcast standpoint. Like I said, a lot of the podcasts you guys have aren't even available on Apple Music. Yeah, so those are called Spotify exclusives, ones that are specifically on Spotify. But the thing is, we had audio a few years ago. I used to have a podcast. I had one in 2018, and I would produce it on Anchor. Oh, I remember that. Wait, no. Was that like self-image and stuff like that? Yeah, it was about body image and body positivity. Yes, and now you're a model. So look at how that all circles. I know, the world is very funny. But yeah, I really love my job. To be honest, I love that like I can do this for creators. And it's cool that like I was a past creator but I think I kind of am operating from the lens of like what creators actually need to like build a podcast. So it's a, it's very full circle. Oh, definitely. Like it's kind of like you worked behind the scenes and now you're at the front of the scene. Yeah, exactly. Like you knew the resources, you know the resources they need because it's what you needed if you want to get on your podcast or stuff like that. Absolutely. How many podcasts do you work on at a time? Like does your team just like look over all of them? Like do you have a certain, We don't have to hit any for a quota. It's not about how many, it's really like our team goes for quality over quantity. We're a really new team. Like we just started like earlier this summer. So we're still building, we're still in our beginning phases, but I think next year we're really gonna like come out swinging. Definitely. That's really interesting. Do you, you know, I know you're a big fan of the podcast and you're a big fan of the podcast. Do you have any tips for people who are new to podcasting? You don't work with the music, you just more sell on podcasts and stuff like that. Yeah, specifically podcasts. You obviously listen to them. What's your favorite black podcast on Spotify? Oof, that's a hard one. I know I've reached, I looked into a couple of them. Like I saw the Therapy for Black Girls, which is interesting. Yeah. Black Women Travel podcast is interesting as well. Like, cause we are both black women who love to travel. Yeah. I would say like, because I'm really into nostalgia, there's like this Spotify originals podcast it's called Peak 2000s. And if you're like someone who grew up either like as a middle schooler or a teenager in the 2000s, it's like you listen to it and you're like, damn, this was really a time of like pop culture. So yeah, that's like something I've been listening to recently. That's really interesting. I need to definitely check out more podcasts. Like I used to listen to them when I would like go for a run in the morning, but I keep playing a bit more fast paced when I'm going for a run. Yeah. But it's definitely nice to just like have something to listen to like before you go to bed or when you're going out for a drive. So I definitely need to check out a podcast. I don't have premium. So I have commercial. Yeah, you need to get premium. Stop playing around. I had a premium and then I actually gave it to my cousin, Nana Bracco, actually. And she was like, do you have Spotify? And I was like, yeah, I do. She was like, can I use it? Cause Rutgers gives you free Spotify premium. I like to use my Spotify premium. And now it blocks me out of my account and she gets the free Spotify premium. Dang. Yeah, I stumbled. But it's okay. It's okay. I'm gonna get my money up soon. I'm gonna get this big girl job and I'm gonna have all the premiums. Amen. A couple of things I want to ask before we go. I don't even know what's going on in the tech industry. I'm actually kind of scared for when I'm like seriously job hunting, but you know, if there's a will, there's a way. Exactly. And honestly, like there are some companies that are still recruiting. I think everyone, like their minds automatically go to like these big, big companies. There's so many companies that still are growing and different industries that are growing that are, you know, recruiting for tech positions. So I would just do, you know, that extra step of research to find, you know, those jobs. Now, if you weren't at your job right now, what would you want to do? Like what's your dream job? I don't have a dream job. And this is why, because I don't dream of working. Like I don't idolize a lifetime of labor. I don't dream. I've always even said, like in high school, they're like, what do you want to do when you go to college, when you graduate from college? I'm like, I want to work 20 days a week. Yeah. I don't work very little. Yeah. I don't like, honestly, this is the ideal job for me right now. And I say right now because the season of my life, but like, I don't know what I want to do in the future. And I'm not even going to think about that because I can't come and stress myself. Yeah, no, I agree with that a hundred percent. I feel like there's no, whatever's happening right now is what's happening right now. There is nothing to dream about because this isn't a dream, essentially. Exactly. Well, I'm going to wrap it up and let you go. Do you have any last advice? Do you have any like tools, tips? I don't think I have any more advice, but I would just say like, if there's something that you actually want to do, just make sure you're well prepared to do it. And you are prepared to put in the work. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much, Nicole. I had a pleasure speaking to you. And yeah, thank you very much. Have a good one. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Bye. You're welcome, bye.

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