I have gone to an all-girls school my whole life, so to go from that environment to being in a university course where I can count the number of females on one hand was a shock. I never had stereotypes attached to subjects so felt comfortable exploring different areas and was able to find my passion for technology. However, on attending university to study computer science, this confidence slowly started wearing away as I wasn’t sure where I would fit in the industry; if other women haven’t what makes me think I can?
I then heard about the IT’s not just for the boys! event in a TARGETjobs weekly round-up email. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to meet likeminded women, be exposed to women in high power roles in the industry as well as finding out what it takes to get to their position. The application was very quick and straightforward and not long after submitting it, I received an email for a quick phone call with the team. They were super friendly, and just wanted an idea of what interests me about the industry and what I was looking to gain from the event. I then received the acceptance email and was quick to do my research on the companies so that I could ask more insightful questions, particularly about their application processes.
On attending the event, I gained so much more than I expected in both a career aspect and in my own personal growth. I was able to network with women across the country about their experiences in their degree programmes and was also able to speak with women currently in the industry to find out how exactly they got to their position. I was also given the invaluable opportunity to interact with recruiters from huge front runners in technology such as Facebook, J.P. Morgan and Bloomberg to name a few. This alone boosted my confidence in applying for huge companies and made it seem like an attainable goal, as before it seemed so far away.
Another extremely valuable aspect of the event was the group activity where we had to discuss and present a solution to an industry-based problem. This was overseen by Facebook recruiters and I was able to understand exactly what they look for in these sorts of exercises and what makes a candidate stand out.
As soon as I came home from the event, I went straight into applying for internships. I found so many aspects of the event aided me in my interviews from initial applications to networking with interviewers to group exercises. Above everything else, the event was that push I needed to not be afraid of applying for large companies in fear of rejection. On speaking to women in high power roles in the industry at the event, their main take away message was to always put yourself out there as the worst that can happen is rejection which really isn’t the end of the world. Since the event, I have been able to secure a year-long internship offers at J.P. Morgan as a software engineer and BlackRock within their technology division.
I would definitely advise anyone who is currently interested in a career in technology or looking to find out what it’s all about to attend the event. It is so much more than a networking event and has truly changed my career prospects and confidence for the better. Being a minority used to make me question my ability to make it in the industry but on attending the event and securing these roles, I have learned that there are so many role models in the industry to look up to and it’s just about putting yourself out there to the countless opportunities that are available.