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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In need of some girl power? Read Gwenno's experience from attending IT's not just for the boys! in October!

‘IT’s not just for the boys!’ is an event catered for women, looking to learn more about careers in technology and to hopefully entice them to become part of what is currently a very male dominated sector. Being in my third year, I had previously heard some mention about ‘ITs not just for the boys!’, however I had always been too late, too busy or just too plain lazy to apply. This year, I saw the event discussed on Facebook during the summer holidays so I had absolutely no excuse not to apply!

The application process was much easier then I imagined, and to be quite honest I rather enjoyed it! I found myself researching into the companies sponsoring the events, learning about their policies regarding female employees, and reading some shocking facts about how little females are currently employed in IT related roles despite the fact that it is one of the biggest employment sectors in the country. Following a very pleasant phone interview (which definitely gave me some much needed telephone interview practice) I was invited to the event!

The day of the event rolled up, and I had to get up at stupid o’clock to travel to London. And, believe me when I say, I hate London! But, it was all the name of girl power so, with positive thoughts placed firmly in the front of my mind, and the Spice Girls on my iPod, off I went! I found the Bloomberg building around 40 minutes early, but managed to find some free WiFi at a local cafe to keep me occupied! At least I avoided the stress of running around the streets of London with no idea where I was going!

I felt strangely empowered arriving at the event. I never thought I’d see the day when coding and court shoes would go hand in hand! All these women with similar passions gathered under one roof, and so many fellow female Computer Science students (which are a very rare breed indeed)! I loved being given the opportunity to talk to like-minded people - and talking was a really important part of the day! Everyone is in the exact same boat, so roll up your sleeves, be yourself and start making friends!

I personally had two favourite parts to the day - firstly, the guest speaker Kathryn Parsons was truly inspirational, and just a generally cool person! I’d love to go out for a few cocktails with her and learn her secrets to success! Secondly, the Question and Answer part of the day was just so fantastically interesting! Hearing these women, who had all made it to the very top of their game telling you how they did it! I definitely heard a few gems that I’ll never forget! It was definitely worth that trudge to London!!

I’m under no illusion, I’m not the best programmer in the world, or even in my year, and there will always be someone better than me, but the event gave me confidence in the skills and abilities that I do have, and it taught me how to make myself stand out and how to find out what the companies are looking for.

Following the event, I proceeded to apply for a couple of graduate schemes. Before the event I wouldn’t have considered applying to them before as they seemed a bit big and scary to little old me from North Wales! But, last week I was fortunate enough to be offered a place on the graduate scheme that had appealed to me the most, and it’s all thanks to the experience I gained in the event.

So, if you want a great day out, the chance to mingle with like-minded women and the possibility to kick start your career - what are you waiting for?! In the very wise words of Beyonce ‘Who rules the world? Girls!’