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Mentoring Tech Girls Exploring STEM

This is a guest post by Oracle Dyn’s Sandy Caiado, solutions engineer, and Kelly Hayes, account executive.

The New Hampshire Tech Alliance recently held the Tech Women Ambassadors Week.  We volunteered to be mentors at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H.  The objective is to inspire young women who are looking to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. There were over 18 companies that participated and about 130 girls from Pinkerton.

Going into this, we thought, how can we make it interesting to keep the girls engaged? After all, we don’t directly discover new planets or architect new environmentally friendly buildings. We certainly didn’t go to college thinking, “When I grow up, I want to work for Oracle and be a solutions engineer or an account executive.” Sure, our education played a big part, yet it is also the very person you are that makes you take chances and be successful. It’s a journey, with many opportunities, that has enabled us to grow with every step along the way.  We work for Oracle, a multinational technology company. In simple terms, at Oracle Dyn, we “connect and protect.” We have a great platform and some really cool technology and customers. As a bonus, our office is super cool!

The format of the day was to have three roundtable discussions with three different groups of girls. We started off by talking about our backgrounds and asking the girls what STEM meant to them, and what they wanted to pursue in STEM. Their pursuit in the STEM fields were varied and potential careers included engineering, psychology, veterinary medicine, nursing, doctor, scientist, and mathematician, and others were still thinking about it.

The groups were generally engaged. They listened and talked about school, family, sports, and volunteering.  We asked them a question about what obstacles they face in pursuing STEM, and to no surprise the top three responses were money, time, and intimidation.  It costs a lot to go to college these days, and the education in STEM starts with a four-year degree and in many cases extends well beyond that. Intimidation stems from the reality that it is predominately a male-dominated field. The students asked us about our interest in STEM and why we are where we are. We talked about life-long learning, taking on new challenges, the drive to understand how things are the way they are, and the drive to succeed.

As mentors, our hope for inspiring these young girls is to give them exposure to interesting careers and technology and the confidence that women can do any job that a man can (including becoming a Navy SEAL).

At the end of all sessions, we took a selfie. We just had to!


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