How to Best Navigate Your Early Career Journey with Capital One Product Manager Amanda Youman

Amanda Youman is a Product Manager at Capital One, providing features to millions of customers on the mobile app to help fight credit card fraud. She just finished a two-year rotational program at Capital One where she was a Product Manager on different teams around the company, learning about all the tech that’s needed to message a bank customer and how to help predict the riskiness of lending by using data models. 

Here is what Amanda had to say when we asked her about navigating your early career journey: 

GenHERation®: After you graduate from college, what steps can you take to build both personal and professional communities? 

Amanda Youman: I love this question because I just finished my rotational program at Capital One, so number one is to look for jobs that have some type of new grad program, like a rotational program. This is a great way to meet other people who are at the same point in their careers, and you get access to built-in networking events and professional resources. At Capital One, we have business resource groups (i.e. women in tech, LGBTQIA+, green initiatives) that are formed upon shared interests. Bonding with people over a shared interest is a great way to organically network. Number two is to join an alumni group from your college. I went to Vanderbilt, so I joined the Vanderbilt Chicago Alumni Chapter. Number three is to attend career meetups. This will allow you to meet people who work in similar roles at different companies. For example, I’m a Product Manager, so I attend meetups held by organizations like Mind the Product and Product Hunt to meet product managers outside of Capital One. I am also a big proponent of being holistic, so you should try to do things outside of work. After work, try to join a sports league, take an art class, or join a volunteer organization. These are more opportunities you’ll have to connect with people. Something else I have found helpful is that when you meet someone you really connect with, ask to set up regular check-ins with them, so you can actually build a relationship over time. 

GenHERation®: What is the best way to ask for help when you are new to an organization? 

Youman: I would say right off the bat, start by creating spaces where you can ask for help and feel comfortable doing so. One, I love to request an onboarding buddy. This should be someone you can see more frequently than your manager and who you can direct all of your questions to. Two, set up development chats with your manager to discuss how you’re progressing, which should be separate from your regular check-ins. Three, create an ongoing questions document where you can tag people on your team to answer your questions directly. 

GenHERation®: What resources or opportunities can you take advantage of to continually develop your skills to excel in a world that is constantly changing? 

Youman: There are many ways to do so! Sign up for learning sessions your company provides. If your company doesn’t offer learning sessions, create a forum for peers that are in the same job role as you, so you can share tips and tricks. I meet once every two weeks with the product managers on my team to discuss learnings. A lot of industries have conferences, and these are great to attend because they allow you to meet people outside of your company and stay in touch with the broader industry. Reading career strategy books is a great way to develop your skills. They give you an outside perspective. I personally enjoy reading books about tech, design, and strategy. Finally, add alerts for news updates from your industry. 

GenHERation®: What are three best practices you should follow to keep your digital information safe and secure? 

Youman: One, use unique passwords for each login site. You would hate for people to find a password and use it in multiple places. Two, use two-factor authentication. Adding 30 extra seconds is much better than getting hacked. Three, update to the latest app versions. It means you will be on the most secure version. 

GenHERation®: How can you demonstrate empathy as a team member? 

Youman: Empathy is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, so it’s important to understand how to use it. Before any decisions are made, I ask questions to better understand where the other person is coming from and then I just listen. As a Product Manager, my job is ultimately to advocate for that customer who’s using my product on their mobile app. I absolutely have to have empathy for my customer who has fraud on their credit card and is scared that they might have lost money or have their identity stolen. My favorite advice I’ve gotten is to “work with the customer, not for the customer.” After I listen to the other person, I want to figure out a solution together, so it actually solves their problem. As a team member, I think it’s important to genuinely ask people how they’re doing and attune to whether they might be stressed or need help. 

GenHERation®: How can you be an advocate for yourself and other women when working in traditionally male-dominated fields? 

Youman: A professor in college told me that men are more likely to apply for jobs that they’re underqualified for, whereas women wait to apply for the jobs they’re fully qualified for. I remind myself of this at work to remember: One, there is truly a larger system that has created gender inequality in the workplace. Two, I deserve to be there just as much as the men around me. In order to advocate for women in male-dominated fields, I think it’s really important to bring your whole self to work even if it feels like a quality doesn’t fit the traditional “male” definition of professionalism. Speaking up can feel scary, so it’s crucial that you find women and allies in male-dominated fields and create a community with them. This hasn’t just been the incredible female leaders I’ve met at Capital One, but it’s also been male leaders that have empowered me to bring my whole self to work, which for me means being a woman in the workplace. 

GenHERation®: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

Youman: “Go for it, whatever it is.” My grandma wrote this simple advice in a card she gave me when I graduated high school and I always go back to it. I think the most important thing from a career is that you’re ultimately doing something you feel excited about. When something gives you energy instead of draining your energy you can then put in your best effort. I’ve gotten a lot of advice on the importance of working hard, but for me the more difficult part is actually finding what you want to work hard at. Once you find the thing that makes you excited, whatever that might be, become a force and go for it. 

Amanda Youman is a Product Manager at Capital One, providing features to millions of customers on the mobile app to help fight credit card fraud. She just finished a two-year rotational program at Capital One where she was a Product Manager on different teams around the company, learning about all the tech that’s needed to message a bank customer and how to help predict the riskiness of lending by using data models. She’s originally from Chicago and graduated from Vanderbilt University where she studied Engineering Science and Gender Studies—combining her two loves for technology and feminism! Outside of work, Amanda can be found destroying her kitchen with new baking recipes, fostering a big pitbull (85 lbs. is preferred), or vintage hunting for hidden gems.

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