CWRU WIT hosted a video panel discussion in May with three Case Western Reserve University students who shared their experiences and advice for women looking for careers in technology.
Anna Sedlackova, a BS in Computer Science with Software Engineering depth, currently finishing her MS in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence depth.
Nsisong Udosen, a BA in Human-Computer Interaction and Business Management.
Brianna Lemon, a Computer Science and Marketing major and a recent CWRU graduate. Brianna moderated the panel.
Here are highlights from the segment:
Anna Sedlackova on Rejection
When it came to internships and jobs, Anna’s journey turned out to be quite an uphill battle. She remembered she was excited and prepared for her first internship interview for Google’s STEP program. It went well, but soon she received a phone call informing her that she was rejected. “It was really, really heartbreaking,” she recalled.
Expanding on her story, Anna said her first internship rejection from Google was followed by a series of job rejections, which was breaking her spirit at times. Yet, she was able to pick herself up and plow on with the job hunt: “I think I applied for a hundred jobs during my sophomore year and I just would wake up every day with a rejection email in my inbox.”
Eventually, she landed her first software engineering co-op at Phillips, which she applied for through Handshake, CWRU’s job search platform. And then, it was Grace Hopper Conference that helped her connect with an Apple recruiter and get an internship there, which was followed by another internship and a full-time job at Apple.
“At one point, I was like, ‘I don't know if I'll ever get a job.’ So if you ever get there, just think of me. I ended up getting a job just fine. It's just a question of pushing through and getting over that hump.”
– Anna Sedlackova
Brianna Lemon on Allowing Yourself to Expand
During her freshman year, Brianna did an internship as a software developer at Intwine Connect, a company committed to developing hardware, software, and IoT services for the monitoring and management of business-critical performance data.
Brianna had an opportunity to optimize her internship experience at Intwine Connect by handling a variety of tasks, from reading a manual and getting to understand what the company was about to taking on challenging projects:
“If they throw you obstacles, you can't just say, ‘I can't do this.’ They know you can.That's why you're at an internship. But if you show them that you're trying and that you're willing to put in the work, they're going to help you.”
For Brianna, each internship was a stepping stone to the next, and a great learning experience to build her skillset, whether it was working at PNC where she developed an app by herself, or taking on a data analyst/product owner role at IBM while also managing the company’s teams in Mexico and China.
“You just have to be willing to learn. Know that you're going to make mistakes and then they’re probably going to laugh at you and you just gotta laugh with them. You can't take it to heart … No matter what, just talk to your manager, always communicate and do your best.”
– Brianna Lemon
Nsisong Udosen on Establishing Relationships
As Nsisong explained, it is important to learn how to network, understand the different ways to approach interviews, and attend conferences:
“Walking up to recruiters at conferences and just talking about how interested I was in positions at their company … didn't always result in getting the job on the spot, but establishing that relationship with at least one person in the company can lead them to introduce you to many more people.”
Continuing, Nsisong recalled she spent a lot of her sophomore and junior years networking on LinkedIn, which she thinks is a great space to find career opportunities and develop professional relationships. One strategy she would often use to start a conversation and build ties virtually was so-called “water-cooler comment” – after doing research on a business she was interested in, she would bring up one of the latest company happenings in her social media comment to showcase she was genuinely interested and engaged:
“This makes me seem like I’m involved … and that’s been really helpful as a kind of a starter into those kinds of conversations.”
Nsisong also went on to highlight the importance of reaching out after an event or a conference. She said it is helpful to carve out some time to follow up every few months. For example, you can send a holiday note, or if you are working on a project, you might want to seek their advice. The majority of people will happily help out and these little acts of networking will also help you develop a good rapport:
“Make sure you’re someone that’s on the back of their (the hirer’s) mind and if an opportunity does come up, you’re kind of right there.”
To watch the video discussion segment on “Technology Internships and Jobs,” click here.
To watch the full panel discussion, click here.