On the 14th of February, The University of Edinburgh Careers Service hosted the ‘Meet Women Working in Tech and Data’ networking event in collaboration with ‘Hoppers: Gender Diversity in Informatics Society’ and the ‘Edinburgh University Women in Stem in Society’. The event had some great women speakers – Andriana Gkaniatsou from Huawei, Emily Philpot from Barclays, Kumudha Narasimhan from Codeplay, and Ivona Vickovic from Canon Medical Research.
The informal networking event commenced with each of the speakers introducing themselves and their roles in their respective companies, what it is like to be a woman in the male-dominated tech industry, and their journey in the industry so far. The speakers talked about their educational backgrounds and explained to the attendees that it is not always important to have a degree in computing to work in the tech industry. Emily from Barclays, in her speech, spoke about how she wasn’t allowed to take computer science at school as that was only for the academically smart so she took Maths in hopes of transitioning into Computing later. Kumudha from Codeplay said that she was the only girl in her class and hence felt intimidated to ask questions and felt like an imposter, but she overcame this by constantly reminding herself that she was here for a reason.
After the introductions, the event informally broke into groups of attendees networking with the individual speakers and asking them more about their jobs, internship opportunities at their companies, and how one should create their own definition of success. The speakers shared some of their personal challenges alongside talks about confidence and lifting oneself up. Students from non-tech backgrounds asked the speakers questions about transitioning into tech backgrounds and about which programming language one should start with.
Some of the attendees were curious about how much impact they can make in big companies. Kumudha said that in big companies either you help someone who is working with a client or you work directly with the client, the only difference is that the impact you make is more visible in a startup compared to a big company but what matters is that you are still making a difference and the impact is the same.
The attendees asked the speakers about early and graduate career opportunities in their respective companies and gained a lot of insight. Since a Master’s degree is sometimes required for research internships, Andriana from Huawei encouraged the undergraduate students to speak to their lecturers about researching with them. Sometimes the lecturers might not even know that they need someone until the idea is proposed to them. She also discussed that grades are important in academia but in corporate they may not matter as long as people know what they are doing. When asked about what she would look for in a potential intern she said that one should read papers, be curious and have an opinion, coding languages doesn’t matter as much. Ivona from Canon Medical discussed with the attendees developments in technology and clinical applications of AI, diversity and inclusion, and company culture.
The participants enjoyed hearing the speaker’s inspirational stories and getting to talk to the representatives one on one. Anna Forbes, a participant had this to say:
“That there’s many different avenues to get to high positions within tech and that while being assertive is important (especially as a woman leading a team of men) that you shouldn’t lose yourself or become aggressive in the process, trying to be a good leader”.
We are glad that we were able to create a safe space for everyone to share their stories, discuss personal challenges and ask questions about company culture and the job industry as a whole.
Thanks to Hoppers and Women in STEM for their insights and reflections on this event!
The Careers in Tech & Data Fair on 3rd March offers the chance to meet around 50 organisations recruiting for a variety of tech & data opportunities. No matter your subject or year, this fair is for you – exhibiting organisations will have a huge range of opportunities for all. You can use the hashtag #EdTechDataCareers on MyCareerHub and socials to find employers with relevant vacancies and events. Drop by McEwan Hall between 12.30-4pm to explore! Go to MyCareerHub to find out more about the event including which organisations will be there.
Keep an eye out on Inform.ed for our next #EdTechDataCareers guest blog.
(Image credit: geralt from Pixabay)