Well first off, being a female engineer is awesome.
For my whole childhood, I wanted to be my older brother. When he was in kindergarten, I would sit at the kitchen table doing silly workbooks pretending to be in class until he got home from school. If he ate all his dinner, then I did too and when he wanted to be a spider for Halloween, its no surprise that I did also. Though I eventually stopped wanting to be him, I never stopped trying to be like him. Eventually we got up to high school and I signed up for a computer science class (per his suggestion) and a short year later, I had applied to most colleges as a computer science major (just like him). I was constantly a test subject for his new website, application, or online game and wanted to be able to create my own. He is at Georgia Tech, loving every minute, and having a totally different college experience but through his inspiration, I am exactly where I should be studying an awesome subject and so glad that I can finally roll with the big boys.
I love that wow factor. The wow you get when you tell people you go to USC, and the look on their face when you say you are studying engineering, and for me, that ultimate attitude change when I say I’m studying computer science–that’s hard to beat. We not only deserve that wow factor, but we embrace it. I like that there are only a handful on females in my engineering classes and we are all pretty good friends. We are in similar student organizations such as SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and WIC (Women in Computing), which are almost exclusively for women. Both of these organizations put on events for women to network with companies and current students. For example, one of SWE’s biggest events is Evening With Industry which is held once a semester. It was actually at this event in the fall where I met my Microsoft recruiter, who helped me land my summer internship.
Besides getting involved in student groups, I have also tried to take advantage of the opportunities USC provides. Last November, I was invited to attend the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing which not only was an unbelievable networking experience, but also so empowering. The CEO of Facebook, former VP of Online Sales at Google and head of the Department of Treasury under Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, was such an inspiration! She spoke at the conference about being a professional woman, balancing a job with raising her now four year old daughter, and went through five key steps to being successful. The goal of the conference was to help current female computer engineers stick with it and Sheryl’s speech did just that.
For me, being a woman is an advantage because a lot of tech companies are male dominated and looking to hire women to add some diversity and perspective. For this reason, I don’t feel as if I’m competing with the males in my class for jobs, just the women. Even though it all started as a little girl trying to be her big brother, my love for being a female in a male dominated field has continued to evolve as my skills grow, opportunities increase, and list of advantages seem to be getting longer and longer.