Although seemingly focused, last week’s Women in Technology: College to Careers event provided insight beyond the little understood profession of technology, and delved into the realm of professional mentoring. UNH’s Chief Information Officer, Joanna Young, opened the event by discussing the ever-growing skills gap that our job market is facing currently. Despite rising unemployment rates, jobs are being left empty, with no talent to fill them. Nowadays, technology is a vital portion of our daily lives—close your eyes, try to imagine the last time you went a day without any technology usage. Young insisted that knowledge of science, technology and math are important to the furthering of dreams.
The panel consisted of several influential and amazingly talented women. To keep from being too verbose, I would like to introduce these women, and what the most important lessons were that I learned from them.
Regina Kunkle, VP, State & Local/Higher Education Sales, NetApp, Inc.
Regina was the “host” of the event, posing questions and adding her advice to various panel members.
Joanna Young, Chief Information Officer (CIO), UNH
Laura Seraichick, Chief Information Officer, Keene State College
Monica Chandra, President and Founder, TurnRight Advice Solutions
Maureen Nachtsheim, Higher Education East Business Development Manager, CDW
Cathy Scerbo, Senior IT Director, Liberty Mutual
Here’s what I learned:
- The technology field is more than sitting in a corner- run the gamut!
Architecting, marketing, hardware, software, development, sales…you name it, technology’s got it! If put in the corner office, you can get it all wrong, and live to tell the tale (and besides, there is fabulous job security)!
- Network, network, network!
Part of the event itself was an opportunity to network, to get your name out there, and to ask questions about advancing your career. Each panel member took the time to reinforce the importance of networking. Whether it is through Linked-in, a family member, a friend, etc. take the time to get your name out there, and show you are passionate, excited and willing to develop your skills, as well as learn. One panelist, , insisted that a “circle of advisors” is key to success. Having a mentor in each area you are passionate about can aid in your success within the technology field.
- Technology is important to success in any career.
Technology is ever changing, and highly applicable to any profession. From the most basic tech skills, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to the ability to code, program etc., technology skills are highly desirable among applicants.
- Not just a man’s job
Jobs in the technology field are not reserved for men! Take this from me: I saw seven women speak who were in positions of high power within their respective companies. They worked just as hard as the men, and were able to explore their passions along the way. Besides that, Mo added, “women are great multi-taskers, they are organized, and may even over communicate desires in the workplace!”
- UNH cares about its students
It was said that the fact that UNH takes the time to put on events such as these is a true testament to the love the University has for its students. UNH wants students to explore careers and opportunities, and then make appropriate course choices to help ensure a successful college experience—and future. The campus offers many outlets within which students can get involved. Clubs, organizations, internships, work studies, etc. all provide students with chances to hone in on skills, develop relationships, and to take advantage of great opportunities.
If two people are being interviewed, and one has had an internship and one has not…the internship often wins. If a person is being interviewed and it has been unpaid, that candidate demonstrates zest and a desire to work hard. Internships are a great way to learn skills that one may need to be able to call upon during future jobs.
- Utilize your Career Center, practice your interview skills
Practice and familiarize yourself with the most commonly asked questions for your intended job market. Be sure to follow up with the interviewer, and send a handwritten note to thank the interviewer! It sends the best message about you. Do your homework; know about the company, its mission, and its purpose. Go into interviews with passion and energy. Augment yourself.
- You can have a life and work in business.
Balance is the key to this. Make time for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, kids. Make time for you, your family, to breathe. Have hobbies, have passions beyond work. Make sure that sometimes you are disconnected from work. This is essential to a successful career/home life.
Read these carefully. Each section has lessons enveloped within the lesson itself. Beyond just the technology field, these women have proven how far women have come in the business world. These inspirational women should be proud of all the have achieved, and proud of their ability to motivate us to step beyond our comfort zones and reach our goals.
*top photo courtesy of Martin England