Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Patricia and I am a 22-year-old software engineering student, in my final year of my bachelor’s. Currently, I am working on my dissertation, as well as studying from online resources in order to start developing projects that I can include in my résumé.
What are your goals?
I would like to eventually start my own company as well as balancing it with a career in academia. My university, although heavily technical, is outdated to some degree. I wish to help bring modern technologies into the curriculum.
What could companies and institutions do to better foster female tech talent?
In my experience, both as a student and as an intern, I’ve noticed that there is a stigmatised view regarding what subfields of technology women should pursue. In software development, it’s almost always web development. I think that a great way to nurture young women into a company is assigning them a female mentor to look up to.
There are also tech events that companies organize designated especially for women. But those need to be organized properly, with speakers that are professionals in technology-related fields. One thing I’ve seen is bringing HR people or translators to speak to computer science students in order to tell them how great working for a particular company as a woman is. While those women are important, and by no means should they be disregarded, it sends a wrong message to young girls who wish to be inspired by women who actually have the same professional background as they do.
Do you have a mentor?
I do not have a mentor exactly, but I certainly wish I did. The schooling system I am part of is cold in that matter, interactions with students, where a professor or T.A. is concerned, are more or less restricted to speaking with 15 or more students at once. I do however look up to a female PhD student that has been helping me with my dissertation, as well as a lot of women I’ve been introduced to through social media. A notable example would be a professor at Berkeley University, who is specialized in my field of interest, is originally from the same country I am, and has been included in the MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35.
Do you mentor anyone?
As far as me monitoring anyone, through an internship I have done this past summer, I’ve met a female student from the same university I go to, who is a year younger than I am. I have been guiding her throughout her 3rd year, sharing my experience about which subjects are more important for what she wishes to do in the future. Moreover, I do enjoy explaining to my fellow colleagues things they did not understand from class. Recently, I’ve also helped one of my best friends with a script for the pre-processing of data for her own dissertation project.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
I’d say do not hesitate to use online resources and take as many courses as you can, for as many technologies as you want. Managing self-studying with University can definitely be hard, but at least for my school, there are so many new technologies that are not even mentioned in class, but that can be easily accessed through online courses. One of my biggest regrets is realizing this very late into my 4-years degree. If I could go back to 1st year, I’d prioritise my time differently, not putting as much work as I did into outdated subjects.
Who do you follow?
The professor I was talking about is @ralucaadapopa on Twitter. I really like the content of Brandy Morgan, who has opened my eyes to freelancing. I also admire @ioana.codes here on Instagram, who has been an intern at Google and is Romanian like I am. Through @engineeringgals, I have actually been introduced to this Instagram community of women in tech. It is through pages like this, and blogs like yours, that I have discovered many inspirational and successful women.