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07

Jun

ShadowTech 2018 - our report

ShadowTech is a fantastic initiative presented by the New Zealand Technology Association (NZTech) in which young women at school are connected with women working in the tech sector, who act as mentors.

Held in multiple regions around New Zealand, it provides girls in high school with an opportunity to experience what working in the tech sector is like, with the goal of encouraging them into education pathways that lead into tech sector roles. This is vital as currently, only 3% of 15 year old NZ girls consider a career in IT and women only make up 23% of those employed in IT occupations.

Intergen hosted young women in Wellington on 21st May, Christchurch on 22nd May and Auckland on 23rd May and are looking forward to hosting more in our Dunedin office on the 26th of June. Our mentors find hosting these young women so valuable and beneficial to the industry that for many of them it is their second or third years in a ShadowTech mentor role.

Below a few of our Intergenite women share their thoughts on how the day went.

Wellington

ShadowTech 2018 Wellington

Angela Gilbert – Support Team Lead CRM & SharePoint, Cloud Platform and Application Services

We have a regular weekly team meeting and decided to ask the students to attend that. We use Skype to connect a geographically spread team and ensure we collaborate closely where needed. It was interesting to consider how the students would have interpreted the technical discussions we had. Towards the end of the meeting, we went through all the team and asked how they ended up with a career in IT. The paths all varied:

  • People that only chose a course in computing because there was no other viable option
  • People that studied accounting and ended up in IT through that avenue
  • People that studied computer science

Even though these students were not considering IT as a career option, or were still unsure of their career path, the message from various discussions during the day were all around how there are many pathways to a career in IT. We were all living proof of that message – with a strong emphasis on communication skills and a keen ability to learn as the common thread between us all.

Katherine (Kat) Raureti – Consultant, Enterprise Productivity

It was my third year participating in ShadowTech with Intergen and it was wonderful to see kura kaupapa Māori taking part in this kaupapa. We had three girls from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Whānui – one year 12 student and two year 10 students. We were able to show them around our office and talk to them about the vast opportunities within IT, not only from a career perspective, but from a Māori perspective. We are definitely lacking representation of Māori within this industry, so being able to highlight the opportunities available to us within this industry was great. I spent most of my time trying to talk about what a career in IT could look like from many different perspectives, so I hope they walked away with a wider perspective on what a career in IT would look like.

Auckland

ShadowTech 2018 Auckland

Raewyn Walker – Client Director, Client Development

As a teenager who grew up in rural NZ, high school work experience in the 1990s was somewhat limited. I got to help my Dad with milking and my Mum with the dispensary stocktake at the local pharmacy! Both of these were discounted as career options for me, for various reasons, and it is part luck that I ended up in IT.

At this point I do want to call out the book ‘How Luck Happens’ by Janis Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh, as there was a bit more than luck that got me here writing this.

I digress. What got me thinking about this was the opportunity to get involved as a ShadowTech mentor to give some Year 11 girls, who have shown an interest in tech, more of a view of the career options open to them. ShadowTech is essentially the modern version of work experience for tech. Getting these girls into the workplace before they chart their study path is really important to ensure they can tailor their studies to enable their future career path.

As a mum of an eight year-old who enjoys math I know the likelihood that my daughter will pursue a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is somewhat precarious so I am personally keen to help change the statistics. I am also aware of the very talented women I work with and how diversity creates the best, most productive teams.

So, on Tuesday 22nd May, somewhat late after appalling Auckland traffic and rain, I collected my charges for the day! Trying to explain who Intergen is and what we do to a teenager, in a short time, across town was indeed a test of my elevator pitch!

When we arrived in the office, as a team of female Intergenites we showed the girls around the office and talked about our roles. When explaining what I would be doing for the day, Sales definitely sounded a million miles away from the coffee drinking and lunching I had hoped for when I first set out on this path.

What I needed to do for the morning was confirm, with the development team, solution design for a proposal. This involved white boarding and a number of phone calls to remote people for input. It’s a part of the role I never expected but really enjoy. My spectators were harder to gauge, they looked a little bored and spent time distractedly glancing at their phones which may have been in an effort to blend in.

At a break for lunch some of our leadership team talked to the girls and I was struck by what I guess gets referred to as a ‘generation gap’. We were discussing a current project involving IoT and as our Practice Manager spoke about IoT being the technology that connects everything I was thinking that these Year 11 girls don’t know a time when things were not connected, so maybe it’s not as magical for them. In the car on the way to the office they had been discussing how they were already building software in the same tools we are using, this generation coming into the workforce, the digital natives, will find ever increasing levels of valuable technology simple because they take more for granted than we currently do.

Our mentees had to leave and get back to the school for 3pm but this snippet of time did leave me thinking what higher levels of value we can drive if we not only embrace gender diversity but find a way to harness age diversity in the workplace as well. As for the girls, I am told second hand that spending time with me had encouraged them to consider Sales in Tech as a career path. I am taking this as a win and the day was a valuable investment of my time. I hope all these girls pursue roles in technology and I look forward to working with them again.

Alena Choong – Support Developer, Application Support

The girls that came over didn’t know what to expect, and walked away with an idea of what it’s like to work in the tech industry. I had the opportunity to show them that it’s not all about code – it’s about problem solving, breaking things up into smaller chunks, never being afraid to ask questions, interacting with clients closely to deliver the best solution, and most importantly to try everything because you never know what something is until you’ve experienced it yourself.

I also learnt a lot and was inspired from other Intergen mentors when listening to their experiences (which goes to say how great everyone is). I definitely feel like we made a difference and I’m glad I could be a part of ShadowTech.

Christchurch

ShadowTech 2018 Christchurch

Kate Phillips – Practice Manager, Enterprise Solutions

In Christchurch the girls initially all met at Ara. They heard short career talks from Romy Gellen at Digital Confectionery, myself on the IT industry and working at Intergen and Bridget McKendry from Fablab on the future of rapid prototyping and how advanced 3D printing has become (3D printed custom dresses anyone?). 

After the talks we gathered our groups of very excited girls for the day. We had partnered up with our friends at Airways who had arranged for us to go up the Air Traffic Control Tower and talk to an Air Traffic Controller (who wasn't working at the time!) about their work. We were able to see a number of planes take off and come in for landing. After that we were off to the RADAR centre at Airways. The centre controls nearly all the rest of the air space in New Zealand, again, the girls were treated to hearing more about life for the team there.  

After a shared lunch, back at Intergen we talked to the girls about artificial intelligence and even had them creating 2 bot prototypes taking them through the ideation and user experience processes, right through to building voice and text chat interactions. They also heard from a number of the Intergen team about life as a developer and consultant. After a fabulous day, it was then time to get the girls safely back to Ara for their wrap up. I hope to see some of them as future graduates here at Intergen.

Linda Pettigrew – Practice Lead, Modern Applications

The Christchurch team put together an exciting programme for our Shadow Tech students. Kate, Vanessa and Kadene joined the students on a tour of Airways NZ’s radar centre and control tower before bringing them back to Intergen for lunch and a mini-hackfest where two groups of students created chat bots to solve the big problems in today’s world – what to wear and where to get help when you are feeling down.

Listening to the young women chatting in the back of the car was refreshing. There was a real buzz about all the activities of the day. They were adamant that the best session of the day was building their chat bots. We also had comments around the provision of deodorant in the bathrooms. In the eyes of these young women this little touch makes our place a more comfortable and appealing place to work.

Our students were an absolute delight. They brimmed with energy and enthusiasm all day. If we have helped these young women look forward and feel excited about a career in technology then we are in for a real treat in the future.

 

Intergen values ensuring a diverse range of people are encouraged into the IT industry as the more differences people have the more ideas and solutions that can be created. We feel ShadowTech is a fantastic initiative to help in this and look forward to hosting more young women in our offices next year.

Stay tuned for a ShadowTech wrap up from our Dunedin office at the end of June!

Posted by: Breanna Mudge, Marketing & Communications Coordinator | 07 June 2018

Tags: Graduates, ShadowTech, Women in Tech


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