Terri Burns is a product manager at Twitter, a freelance writer, international speaker, and an advisor for CodeAcademy. Terri is unstoppable! We chowed down a falafel salad and avocado toast while talking about her unique role as PM, her fears, and her greatest forms of self expression which include fashion and writing.
How did you get into product management?
“I studied Computer Science in NYU, but I knew that I wanted to apply the skills in a different way. I wanted to be more involved in the decision making on what is being built. I love products, user experience, and solving how human beings can interact more efficiently through technology and products, so product management is a great fit for me. ”
“Building a product, especially in bigger companies, is very cross functional so it is important to have someone understand the entire product system as a whole. It’s my job to create a product vision and see that product vision come to life. It’s extremely cross functional — I talk to designers, researchers, legal, etc. If there is something broken in the product, I identify what the problem is and explore different options and iterate from there. ”
What have been your biggest obstacles and how did you overcome them?
“Studying CS, I always struggled with my classes and I think learning how to code is something that is really hard. That was definitely my biggest challenge at NYU. However, I was fortunate enough to be part of a technology community called Tech at NYU. Through that experience, I was exposed to a very positive and inclusive environment.”
What is your clothing must-have for spring?
“Dresses! They are easy to put on, elegant, simple, and you can add as much flavor to it. I also get hot very easily so dresses are perfect because they are breezy.”
What are your favorite brands?
“I really love this online boutique store called LongTallSally. It’s geared for women over 5’8. My mom, sister, and I all shop there and buy bulk orders together. ”
Who/what inspires your style?
“My mom sews and has great style. I’m inspired a lot by my mom who loves bright colors and can make anything. Also, New York city in general is so inspiring. I can be dreading life and walking down the street and see people looking fabulous.”
New York city in general is so inspiring. I can be dreading life and walking down the street and see people looking fabulous.
What ways do you express yourself?
“I’m no means a fashionista, but I’ve always been expressive with my clothes as reflection of my personality. Also, the internet. I’m such a millennial. I love social media. I post a lot about my life online. On twitter primarily. I also have a personal website where I do freelance writing. Writing is definitely something I use to express myself and the internet is the vehicle to which that happens.”
What advice do you have for young girls and boys who want to go into tech?
“Stick through it! The learning curve for technology is pretty steep but if you have interest in it, give it a shot. It can be a grueling process at times and can be easy to give up..Taking one CS class is not going to determine if you are destined to be in tech.”
Taking one CS class is not going to determine if you are destined to be a software engineer.
What are your biggest fears that hold you back?
“I have this desire to always be the smartest person in the room. I fear very reasonably that I’m not what I should be. I always want to be on top of everything and if I’m not, I’m not in a healthy path to success.”
What animal represents your personality the most?
“I once dated someone who asked me this and made fun of me for the longest time…I feel like I identify with a jellyfish the most. They go with the flow and they are also venomous.”