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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A moral initiative to create gender equality in IT

Name:  Kavitha Chandrasekaran
University: King's College London
Degree: MSc Computing, IT Law and Management
Event attended: IT's not just for the boys! October 2014

It all started on one fine day. I was looking at TARGETjobs website and something caught my eye. It read "IT's not just for boys!” 

Immediately after reading what it is all about, I was dumbstruck. I have been in the IT field for more than six years before doing my Master’s degree but so far I had no idea about an event focusing on women in IT existed. I had worked in several teams surrounded by men and almost every time I was the only woman in the group. There were so many instances when I felt it would have been really nice to have more female co-workers in the IT field for both professional and personal relationships.

Having said this I was still in a dilemma over whether to apply or not. So many questions were running through my mind like , ‘is this going to be another job fair with employers in the stalls?’ ‘Will I be able to have a one-one conversation with the employer?’ etc.

In spite of all these dilemmas I applied, as I was interested to network with other young women in technology as well as meet the employers. It was a simple online application form including a short paragraph reasoning the inspiration behind to attend this event. Shortly after that, I was booked for a telephone interview. I was still thinking how the interview will go - will it be a traditional one based on competency questions?

On the scheduled day, I received a call from Katy, who was friendly immediately from "Hello" till we ended the conversation. All the scary thoughts about answering the questions were long gone after speaking to her. She genuinely wanted to understand my motive to attend the event and explained to me about what will I gain.

After the telephone interview, true to her word, Katy sent me an email the same day stating I was successful and I received the information about the venue and other information required to get me there.

On THE day, I was a bit nervous about meeting employers and new people but the excitement got over the anxiety. I reached Bloomberg HQ well before time.  I saw few other women walking towards the building and waiting. After the initial ice-breaking introduction, we went inside a Victorian building and in complete shock to see a fully functional hi-tech infrastructure with coffee machines which was a pure gadget by itself, large fish tanks, and unlimited refreshments. The hospitality of the event's organisers can never be matched. I doubt I will meet such a charming and cheerful group of organisers ever again; they were welcoming every single person, especially much needed for few ladies who travelled all the way to London from further afield like Scotland and Ireland for the event.

Once we were registered we were given ID cards and had headshots taken for use in a CV book after the event. Soon after, we were listening to inspirational and motivational speakers like Nathalie Nahai and Kate Taylor. Later, we were separated into several groups with one employer heading that group and asking us to create an app. The employers had great attention to our brainstorming session and gave us loads of tips to get the teamwork up and running. Once we "developed" the concept of the app, we were asked to present it in front of the rest of the employers and we were much appreciated for our ideas.

Post Team Challenge, each group had their 'one-one' time with all the employers. One of the employers was saying about the application process, another employer was discussing on preparing a great CV and the common mistakes and so on. We had 3 sessions of around 20 minutes on different skills topics. After that, we had a question time with a panel of senior women from each of the companies. They were really genuine and enthusiastic to answer all the questions we had. I learned that it’s possible to become a senior manager or director of a top company, if you have the drive to succeed.

As the day was drawing to a close, we had a chance to meet the recent graduates of many companies and they gave us an insight of how is it inside the organisations and they gave us some many important tips on the interview processes.

I can't end this blog without mentioning the fantastic lunch we had and the goodies we had to take home, something from each event partner! :) Kudos to Katy and team for all your efforts and supports! I recommend each and every young woman in the field of IT (whether you are studying it or not) to attend this event to have a real insight and how you can succeed in life, without compromising your personal life.

A Big Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

Fancy attending the next IT's not just for the boys! on 20 March? Applications are open now!