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Girls in Tech: mentoring the next generation of IT professionals

As part of the Shadow Tech Mentors initiative, several Intergen staff members each hosted a female high school student from Wellington Girls College, Sacred Heart College, Aotea College and Tawa College, for the day at our Wellington office.

Intergenites Jennifer Jones, Dee Jeram and Pri Patel took part, with the objective of showing the students what an exciting and varied career the IT industry can offer, while breaking down some age old IT stereotypes.

Picking the girls up from Cuba Street, it was fantastic to see the number of organisations there waiting to meet their mentee, supporting the encouragement of students into the IT industry. As a recent IT graduate, and one of the youngest women at Intergen, I could relate to how these young women must have been feeling and what a great opportunity this initiative is for them.

ShadowTech: mentoring the next generation of IT professionals

We kicked off with a tour of the floors, showing the many different teams they could be part of and introducing them to members, demonstrating the various jobs and practices it takes to run an IT company.

Sitting down for a chat, we discussed the IT activities they are doing at school and were amazed to hear that each of their schools offer a Computer Science course, in which the students are enrolled. The students shared what they are doing with technology at school, explaining that the main focus is on the technical aspects of IT, for example coding. Some of the things they are learning I only encountered in first and second year at University, demonstrating such progression and indicating that they will be well prepared for tertiary study. The girls also explained how they incorporate a “bring your own device” at their schools, with one mentioning that she works completely off her computer, with no text books, paper or pens. This was unheard of while I was at High School (which was not too long ago).”

I enjoyed relating my role as a Graduate Consultant for Enterprise Productivity and how Intergen does not purely focus on the technical side, but stresses the importance of the human aspect too.

We talked through how we got into the industry, and how I stumbled into IT when deciding what to study at University. It wasn’t long ago that I was at High School - and then, the opportunity to get into IT wasn’t available.

At our workstations, we stepped the students through our current work. As I was in the middle of a deployment, I guided her through the process of how we create and build sites for clients. At the time, I was writing scripts over the site, so she observed how that happens in a real life situation. I also explained a bit about our client and how what I was building would be used by over 2000 people. This was exciting, as it provided reassurance that what she is learning at school can one day come to life for use by hundreds or thousands of people.

Emma Barrett, our Executive GM, Solutions & Services, joined us for lunch and spoke about how the world of IT is ever-changing and evolving, how huge it has become and will continue to be. She spoke about the vast range of jobs available in the IT industry and the ever-increasing need for qualified people. Also, she noted that IT is not a narrow field: there are multiple routes working in an IT company and it does not restrict your career to one area forever. If you want to develop and do something else, that is an option.

We have many great examples of this at Intergen; Emma herself is a case in point. As a University of Otago graduate, she worked for large multinational IT vendors in Wellington, Sydney and London, before joining Intergen in 2004 as a consultant. She’s subsequently worked her way up to the Senior Leadership Team.

Not only was this noteworthy for the students, it was also a great reminder for us Intergenites, reiterating how exciting it is to be a part of this industry and company.

Throughout the day I was increasingly impressed with the students; they are so enthusiastic, eager to learn and discover what this industry has to offer. In a few years, they will be a credit to any organisation they choose to join.

I hugely appreciate having had such a great experience and cannot wait to do this again next year. I readily related to the students and shared my details with each of the four girls with a promise to be available for further mentoring when they start University. They were all so appreciative, clearly enjoyed their day and felt they got a lot out of it. For us, that is amazing! 

Posted by: Katherine Raureti, Consultant | 21 July 2016

Tags: Graduates, ShadowTech, Women in Tech

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