Shilpa Shah, a director at Deloitte and leader of the firm’s Women in Technology network, is a passionate advocate of tech careers for women. Here are her five key tips for female students who are considering getting an IT job when they graduate.
Get behind and beyond the name
Shilpa says, ‘Technology sounds a tad dull compared to, let’s say, consulting or investment banking so the first thing to do is research and understand what a career in technology actually means. Everything that we use, everything that keeps us connected, every service we benefit from is influenced by technology.’
She highlights the great variety of roles available within IT and points out that they are as varied, subject to change and fast-moving as technology itself. ‘Because technology affects everything, working in it means you can see the effects of what you do quicker than in most other jobs. So it’s far from dull.’
Be passionate and show passion
Women who are pursuing IT careers should let their enthusiasm for technology come through in their applications and interviews, Shilpa says. ‘It’s a fact of life that good businesses always support passionate people who are genuinely interested in the work, and willing to try different things. So, during the application and interview stages, show some passion and excitement about technology!’
Work experience is good, however long it is
It goes without saying that work experience is useful for job hunters, not just because of what they learn on placement but also because it gives them examples to talk about at interview. Shilpa highlights the range of work experience opportunities on offer for students to take advantage of, from insight days, career fairs and campus visits to events such as IT’s not just for the boys!, run by TARGETjobs Events specifically for women undergraduates.
She stresses that students need to make sure their work experience is as broad as possible, and draws attention to the value of networking: ‘However long you work in technology, you should always have the same goal: to talk to as many people as you can, learn about what they do and start networking with them and their colleagues.’
Technology needs women
Mixed-gender teams are more effective than single-gender teams, and technology employers are well aware of the business case for recruiting female graduates. Graduates who have studied subjects other than IT are also welcome. As Shilpa puts it, ‘Women from all degree backgrounds will find the door open and a warm welcome waiting for them.’
She explains, ‘Technology is an enabler for change and the people who are successful have to deal with people, processes and technology. Undergraduates with non-technical degrees who are good with people and processes need to pick up the technology in the same way that technical grads need to develop people skills.’
But women need to believe...
Research suggests that some female students are less confident than their male peers. Leading businesses that are keen not to miss out on talent attempt to counter this and support their female recruits by developing networks that enable women to share experiences, get support and develop their careers.
Shilpa says, ‘Women undergraduates should seek out organisations that are committed to equality and diversity; organisations where women are in senior roles and are passionate about supporting new graduates at the very start of their careers.’
The Women in Technology (WIT) network at Deloitte that Shilpa leads organises mentoring, seminars, training courses and events with external speakers, and also works in schools.
More help from TARGETjobs and TARGETjobs Events
- Find out more about graduate careers with Deloitte
- Find out more about IT’s not just for the boys! from TARGETjobs Events
- Career tactics for women: from internship to job to promotion
- Curtail your caution: top tech women on how female graduates can climb the IT career ladder