The Insider: Caroline McCarthy
After five years as a tech reporter, Caroline McCarthy went behind the scenes, taking her storytelling skills to Google. Growing up with an early Apple, her affinity for technology goes way back, and, here, she tells all about it—and some of her go-to jewelry that’s been with her nearly as long. —jiayi
Q: You were a journalist for several years. How different is it being on the other side of the news?
A: It’s totally different. As a writer, I’d be working on one story at the time—maybe there’d be something longform on the backburner, but it was very much one thing. At Google, and especially in social media marketing, it’s more like twenty things at once. It’s been a crazy, awesome learning experience.
Q: Did you have any tech background when you went into journalism?
A: Growing up, I was really, really techy. I had an Apple IIc—one of those computers that you couldn’t even move. The floppy drive was five inches—it wasn’t even a three-inch, that’s how old-school it was. And then I studied a little computer science in high school, but I went on to writing in college. I wanted to be a writer. I thought tech was kind of impossible and impractical to get into, but then I saw a job posted for what turned out to be the tech reporting job I had for five years.
Q: Do you think it’s essential for women to have coding knowledge in order to succeed in the field?
A: My theory about getting more women into tech is that you have to think about it in two different directions. There are plenty of female tech CEOs who are non-technical. But then it’s a completely different struggle to get young women—starting in middle school—interested in coding. I think many of them would be turned off if they were presented with, “Oh, you could be a CEO someday”—they just want to create and build awesome things.
Q: You travel a lot for work. Do you have any hard-earned tips to share?
A: I’ve made a pact with myself to not travel with a rolling suitcase—sometimes they make you check those—unless it’s absolutely necessary. So I pack extremely light, and try to ensure that I can stay somewhere where I can do laundry. I tend to stay in Airbnb properties instead of hotels because you’ll usually have free access to a laundry machine, and that makes a big difference.
Q: What’s that awesome ring you’re wearing?
A: It’s my high school class ring. I went to this somewhat eccentric all-girls prep school in New Jersey that had a lot of strange, esoteric traditions. One of them was the receiving of our class rings in junior year. They have a deer on them—that was our mascot—and are designed so that they can stamp wax. I haven’t tried it, but supposedly you can seal a letter with them. Whenever somebody sees this now, though, they’re like, “Oh, where in Williamsburg did you get that?”
Q: Besides Google+, what are you into on the social-media front?
A: I really like Untappd. It’s a check-in service for craft beer fans, and I’m fairly into craft beers. I love it because it has dozens and dozens of potential badges you can earn, and they’re all so weird. Sometimes you’ll learn something about the the beer you just ordered—it’ll say something like, “Hey, you won this! Did you know this kind of beer comes from X region of the world?” It’s so niche—and clearly done by people who love the subject matter.
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