At DigiGirlz NYC High Tech Camp, Local Students #MakeWhatsNext

| Donna Abrusci

Another year, another DigiGirlz; however, this was not our standard DigiGirlz event! DigiGirlz, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. This year on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, we had the privilege of hosting a DigiGirlz High Tech Camp, a multiday experience that gives high school girls a more in-depth look at Microsoft and careers in technology, working to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry.

Day one was hosted in the Microsoft 11 Times Square office and day two was hosted in the Microsoft flagship store on 5th Avenue. The girls certainly got to see various parts of Manhattan during this event. Upon registration and a light breakfast on day one, the event kicked off with welcome remarks from Mars President of Shared Services Angela Mangiapane. After, the students attended a series of three break-out sessions. One of the sessions was a Microsoft Technology Center Envisioning demonstration which touched on Artificial Intelligence, Bing Search, Cortana, Translator, Surface Hub, HoloLens, Quantum Mechanics, and Microsoft Research.

A second session was an intro to coding hosted by ScriptEd. The session began with Circle Up, the Name Game. This ice breaker allowed the girls to introduce themselves and then to share if they had a superpower, what would that be. They learned that coding is a superpower — and that you can change the world with coding.

The third session was a Professional Development Workshop hosted by IAMCP Women in Technology. The focus of the workshop was networking. The girls had to write their elevator pitch to make a connection in 30 seconds or less. The girls worked in groups for approximately 15 minutes, with assistance from IAMCP WIT volunteers to develop their elevator pitch. The following questions were recommended as guidance to build their pitch:

  • Who Am I?
  • What is My Objective?
  • What are My Strengths?
  • What is My Passion?
  • How do I Wrap It Up?

Speed networking was then incorporated into the elevator pitch conversations. To further enhance the conversation, if time allowed, a colored candy was chosen and then the following were additional focus areas, based on the color chosen, that the girls could speak to:

  • School
  • About Me
  • Personal Stuff
  • Inspire
  • Career

The session wrapped with a public speaking opportunity for two of the girls to share their elevator pitch to the group.

After the sessions, the girls enjoyed lunch and a group photo followed by a career panel hosted by Pallavi Sebastian, chief of staff for Financial Services here at Microsoft.

Our panelists included:

Closing remarks for the day were delivered by Debbie Marcus, executive director of Computer Science Education at NYC Department of Education.

Day two at the Microsoft flagship retail store provided the students to experience the following break-out sessions:

  • LinkedIn: Build Your Brand Workshop —  a 45-minute workshop to discover how to enhance your professional identity with LinkedIn. Students learned how to create an eye-catching, engaging, and detailed profile with an overview of accomplishments and job interests to build their brand, grow their network, and fuel their career. The students also had an opportunity to take a professional-grade photo for their profiles!
  • Junior Achievement Job Shadow — What it would it be like to work at a Microsoft retail store? Participants had the opportunity to learn about Microsoft as a business, a culture, and a career. Participants discovered the many career paths available in the Microsoft retail stores, which are not your average retail gigs! During the workshop, participants tried out some of Microsoft’s latest technology while getting a taste of these fast paced and exciting roles.
  • Microsoft VIP Interactive Tour
  • Start Your Own Business

We had an amazing experience hosting DigiGirlz, a great event for all that attended!

See more from our camp on Twitter at #DigiGirlzNYC.

Donna Abrusci

Donna Abrusci is a Business Program Manager covering Operations and Philanthropic related activities in the New York Metro region. In June 2016 Donna reached 21 years with Microsoft. Donna’s role is quite diverse which allows her to work across a variety of business groups therefore offers her the ability to know many of the Microsoft employees in the New York and New Jersey area. Donna and her team work with varying non-profit organizations, including but not limited to, Girls Who Code, City Year New York and We Connect The Dots.