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IT's not just for the boys!

Female STEM students looking to forge successful careers in tech.

Aidan Coyne

Technology fields can be lonely for a woman. I have taken STEM courses for most of my life and each of them is somewhat similar. The classroom is packed to the brim with boys but you can never seem to find many girls. IT’s not just for the boys! provided me with the opportunity to meet people just like me.

I heard about IT’s not just for the boys! in a TARGETjobs weekly round-up email. The application process was straightforward. You fill out details about yourself, your university, and your academic background such as degree programme. The phone interview sounded intimidating, especially as I wasn’t pursuing a pure computer science degree. However, the questions were centered around your interest in technology and the event itself. It largely omitted technical questions regarding IT or computer science.

When I first found out I had been selected to attend the event, I was ecstatic and hurried to prepare myself. I received an email from TARGETjobs with details on what I should do, which included creating a LinkedIn account and doing research on three of the attending companies. I did everything outlined in the email and bought my first pair of formal black pants and shoes. On the day of the event, I  found that all the preparation was worth it.

My experience at IT’s not just for the boys! was career changing. I met with recruiters from large companies utilizing the most innovative technology trends such as J.P. Morgan, Amazon, and BlackRock. We received valuable insights into how to make our applications stand out and had the opportunity to ask them a variety of questions regarding their company during group discussions. I also networked with and befriended other ambitious female university student attendees. We exchanged tips on conducting interviews, on procuring internships and on navigating STEM fields where our peers were primarily men.

While the primary purpose of the event was to network, I found the most enjoyable part of the event was a group  activity. We collaborated in groups to prepare and give presentations on an emerging technology while being observed by one of the company representatives. I loved the lively discussion we had regarding the application of artificial intelligence in smart cities and what the current social climate is towards AI. One of the best parts about the group activity was that we were given feedback about how we worked together as a team and how we could improve.

I have found that working together in teams to perform complex functions has become increasingly important and valued in companies. In several interviews I attended I had to do group work similar to the activity we did at the event. Being able to practice group work and receive feedback was invaluable and definitely helped me in future interviews I attended. Additionally, hearing what employers look for in applications was incredibly useful for my applications to internships.

My experience at IT’s not just for the boys! introduced me to unimaginable opportunities that helped progress my career in technology. I never knew there were internships available for first year students prior to attending the event. Additionally, the activities helped cultivate my networking and team work skills and prepared me for company interviews. Since then I have procured internships at reputable companies such as J.P. Morgan, BlackRock, KPMG and PwC. Beyond helping shape my career in IT, my experience gave me the opportunity to meet and network with other inspirational female peers who came from similar backgrounds. Technology can be lonely for a woman, but this event demonstrates that IT is indeed not just for the boys.