For the second year in a row, Microsoft is hosting 20 girls this summer at the Microsoft Cambridge campus to teach coding in partnership with the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. The girls apply for this competitive program and spend 7 weeks learning Python and other programming languages, as well as building their business and networking skills. When I participated in a speed mentoring session at the NERD office on July 11th, I had the chance to speak these 20 remarkable young women. They mostly live in Massachusetts, but some attend Girls Who Code from as far away as Virginia. Over 25 women Microsoft employees participated from both sales, marketing, R&D, data science and machine learning, as well as from our intern program.
We started the event with lunch and informal mingling.
The Microsoft mentors and students shared stories about how their interest in technology developed, from whom they drew their inspiration, and what type of projects they were working on.
Through the mentoring program, Girls Who Code aims to provide girls with the invaluable opportunity to interact with strong, powerful, and exemplary female role models. Through mentoring relationships, students gain deeper exposure into the professional world and career opportunities once deemed impossible or unattainable. Mentoring sessions provide a safe and encouraging space for girls to ask questions and get both academic and career advice. Mentors had the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of ambitious and talented girls interested in technology.
I very much enjoyed being able to spend 10-15 minutes individually with nearly a dozen girls. I told them what I liked best about my job, which is that I use technology to make a global impact to improve communication outcomes for neurological patients and improve health screening for women in developing nations. I honestly addressed questions about maintaining work-life balance and coping in a male-dominated environment. Most of my advice revolved around confidence. I explained imposter syndrome and suggested that they read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language.
The girls’ unique personalities shined through. I met young women with amazing confidence, excellent technological backgrounds, and impressive interviewing skills. I’m proud to work for a company that not only encourages the development of the next generation of women leaders, but most critically, provides the resources necessary to instill excitement about and access to technology.
I’m happy that a couple of girls contacted me after the event and we are corresponding via email and making plans to meet in person for additional mentoring. I got a lovely long email from one of the girls visiting from the South and am looking forward to taking her to lunch to continue our discussion. It’s absolutely my pleasure to share my passion for technology with our next generation of technical leaders!