Unlike a lot of my fellow committee members, I don’t come from a science background. When I graduated a few years ago with an English major and a hodge-podge of film and media internships, I was at a loss. I had invested a lot of experience in media production but no longer felt excited to continue that career path.
Determined to set myself on a new path I asked myself: what gets you excited? To answer this I looked to the articles I was reading, most of which involved technology and design. Next I asked: what aspects of past jobs were most rewarding? And realized that I loved finding creative solutions, organizing, and communication. This led to a pretty glaring conclusion: I needed to find a role in the tech industry.
Product management seemed like a perfect fit for my interests and skills, but I knew I would need to familiarize myself with the tech industry before jumping into that kind of role. Instead I applied to sales and customer success positions at small startups where I could gain exposure to all aspects of the the industry first. I’ve been at my current job as a business development representative at Scholastica for just over a year and I absolutely love it. Not only is it an amazing place to explore my interest in the technology industry but, since we provide software for academic journals, I also get to talk to incredible academics that are leading their fields everyday, and that’s really cool.
But I had to wonder – why hadn’t I considered computer science as a career before now? I realized I had ruled out a lot of potential careers in STEM before I even got to college. Despite being on the Science Olympiad team, winning a county-wide algebra competition, and loving my genetics and life science classes, I genuinely thought I wasn’t good at math and science when I was in high school. The inconsistencies kept building from there. My mom is a industrial engineer who has worked as a computer engineer ever since I can remember. She encouraged me to consider a similar field, yet I still didn’t view that career path as an option. It seems that I had every opportunity to foster a love of math and science and yet something prevented me from having the confidence to pursue them outside of high school.
This frustration and my prior experience in education led me to EYH. I want to make sure girls recognize their talents in math and science and know that they have to power to continue exploring their interests as careers. There is still a lot of work to be done to level the playing field for women in STEM, including eradicating the social barriers that prevent women from entering those fields in the first place. The more opportunities that middle and high school girls have to engage with those fields and learn from incredible leaders, the more they’ll realize that they are no worse at math and science than their male peers and the more they’ll be confident that there is a career in STEM ready for their talents. I’m incredibly excited to help EYH inspire that confidence in Chicago’s future STEM leaders!