Recap of Professional Development Scholars Program: Student Perspectives

Current students and recent graduates of the Spring 2021 Professional Development Scholars program participated in an online discussion moderated by the program’s advisor, Pooja Khatija. Participants were asked a series of questions about how they’ve benefited from the program, and we’re pleased to be sharing excerpts from that discussion here:

Why did you originally enroll in the program?

Tammy Linn, a second-year computer science major: “I joined to meet a community of girls that could support one another and learn from each other’s experiences.”

Anna Jaskoviak, a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in business management: “I joined to network with other women at Case and women in tech in general.”

Rawaa Almajeez, a first-year master’s degree student specializing in electrical engineering and control systems engineering: “I joined the program because I came from a different country and wanted to learn about life in the United States and what types of challenges face American women in science.”

What specific session or topic made the biggest impression on you?

Rawaa: “The sessions dealing with interviewing skills and negotiation really stood out. I tend to be quiet, and will agree to just about anything. Those sessions gave me the confidence to really think about things and ask questions before agreeing to them.”

Anna: “Definitely interviewing skills. We learned how to give an elevator pitch and to talk about ourselves in a positive way. That can be hard, especially when you’re talking with people you don’t know. This program did a good job creating a safe space where we could learn to feel comfortable talking about our accomplishments, and I enjoyed hearing other women’s stories, too. It was very empowering.”

Tammy: “I identified most with the idea of imposter syndrome. It’s not easy presenting yourself in the best way possible when you doubt your own abilities. Having such a strong community to learn from definitely helped me grow my self-confidence.”

What were your top takeaways from the program?

Rawaa: “Stepping outside my comfort zone to practice talking about myself in a positive way, and the overall community building.”

Tammy: “Overcoming imposter syndrome, learning how to set smaller goals to achieve larger ones, developing better negotiating skills, improving upon my resume and LinkedIn profile, and gaining support from other women in tech.”

Anna: “Exchanging information with other women in tech, learning from their experiences, and discovering that I’m not alone in some of the struggles I face.”


How would you summarize the program for someone who may be interested in joining?

Anna: “It’s a structured opportunity to learn from other points of view and to be part of a safe community of women learning to navigate a male-dominated profession. I didn’t know many other women in engineering before coming to this program, and there are so many positives to belonging to a group of women who share similar goals.”

Tammy: “Since there’s such a wide variety of people in the program, from people in their first-year of school to others pursuing their master’s degrees, it’s a great networking tool and a nice way to gain different perspectives from people outside of your classes.”

Rawaa: “It’s a good support system. I was shy in the beginning, but thanks to the support of other women, now I feel more confident sharing my experiences.”


To watch the video recap, click here.

This program would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors, as well as supporters of the Women in Tech Initiative. Many thanks to:

  • Craig Newmark Philanthropies
  • Individual Donors: Ben Gomes (CWR ’90) and Deborah Weisser