A Superwoman Trainee: Learning from “Women in Computing”
By: Rachel Miles
After months of feeling overwhelmed at my new job and, well, like an imposter, going to the “Women in Computing” panel at the Computer History Museum was the medicine I needed. It reminded me of the shared experience of women in technology and business. It reminded me that others have come before me and more will come after.
The Superwomen’s Group at the IBM Silicon Valley Labs office put on the “Women in Computing” event at the Computer History Museum. I hadn’t been to that museum yet, so I was excited to get to go and have the opportunity to network with others in my location. The time for networking allowed me to meet some excellent people I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise.
Most importantly, the panel session gave me several very useful takeaways that I could take back to my work experience.
Think Outside the Box
For instance, it’s really easy to look at your situation and think there’s nothing you can do to change it. However, one of the panelists shared a story of presenting at a client meeting where, historically, no one felt comfortable to share their true opinions. She had the perhaps silly-seeming idea to bring princess pens for the stakeholders to write with. That silly-seeming idea, however, completely broke the ice for that meeting and they’d gotten more accomplished than any other meeting. Sometimes something simple and outside of the box is enough to completely change a situation.
As a woman, it doesn’t always come naturally to self-promote. These experienced women shared ways to advocate for yourself and also to find advocates for you. The concept of having a sponsor was something I hadn’t heard before. I’ve heard all about mentors, but a sponsor is someone who is willing to put their reputation on the line for you. It’s a step above a mentor. Finding a sponsor is something I’ve been thinking about since that event.
Another takeaway for me was to think about my overall career vision. Where do I see myself? What steps do I need to take to accomplish my vision? From there, constantly innovate yourself and find your competitors both internal and external in order to keep growing. By driving on that innovative mindset, ideas will come from everywhere because where there is confusion, there is an opportunity.
Practice, Practice, Practice
I also liked the quote of “practice makes progress.” There’s the original “practice makes perfect” or, as my band director used to say, “perfect practice makes perfect.” But “practice makes progress” really resonated with me because somehow it seems more achievable. Perfection is some unattainable goal, but practicing at something and making progress seems much more doable.
All in all, I walked away from the event with some clear takeaways, new connections, and increased edification about computer history.
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