Today we had our second guest, guests, really, in our GWC classroom. Accenture set up a panel of six (but it ended up being seven) female new employees and interns for an hour long Q&A. At first, everyone was a little nervous, but by the end, it was hard to tell who was more excited, the students or the panelists. I took notes on who are guests were, then promptly left them in the classroom. No, wait, think back… Hey! Here they are in my backpack! (Be prepared.)
Leticia, who is a campus recruiter for Accenture, and has worked for them for a year. She helped organize the panel and was the facilitator. Thanks, Leticia!
Now from left to right:
Anna is a consulting analyst who joined Accenture about a month ago.
Heather is an Endpoint Security Analyst who, get this, speaks Zulu! On her intro slide she said she can click, which is part of Zulu language. Here is a short video with someone speaking Zulu. I have no idea what he is saying, so if you understand Zulu, please don’t be offended if it is distasteful.
Emma is next, but I set my pen down briefly to check on something, and I missed her introduction.
Danica is a CIO intern, and has been at Accenture for a month.
Nadia has also been an intern for about a month, and mentioned that she has only been out of high school for two years, which immediately made a connection to the girls.
Viviana is next. She has been a Technical Consulting Analyst for about a month. She and our next guest are both students at University of Michigan.
The last guest, who is not pictured, was Jessica, another intern. She heard about the panel and stopped in out of sheer interest, and quickly became a panel member, even though she wasn’t sitting in the row of chairs at the front. She was so engaging and enthusiastic that the girls instantly connected to her.
One of the early highlights came during Heather’s introduction. She told a story that I think she was a little embarrassed about, but everyone immediately connected to, and set the tone for the whole event. She said she was a problem solver, and has loved solving problems since she was a kid. She recounted one summer when she was seven or eight years old and she found a tangled mass of string in her backyard. She had no idea how it got there, it was just there. She started unravelling it, and continued all summer long until the whole thing was untangled.
After the introductions, questions and answers started. At first, the students were shy about raising their hands, but soon, the questions (and answers) started to fly: What’s it like to work in a male dominated field? Did you know that this is what you wanted to do? (Emma asked who in the room knew what they wanted to do – only a couple of students raised their hands – the rest of us have no clue.)
The conversations continued for almost half an hour after the panel ended. I think the panelists felt like rock stars, garnering so much attention from the students. The students were happy to find someone they could relate to who was only a few steps ahead of them – not so far that they couldn’t see themselves in the same place soon.
At one point, one of the panelists talked about what it was like to work at Accenture. They talked about how much on the job training they had, and how she worked on one project to its completion, then moved to another, which almost like applying for a job. It struck me how much differently working there is different from a traditional corporation. It seems like a lot of the work they do is done by almost ad hoc groups of people, pulled together for a single project. Your next project may have some of the same people, but maybe not. This explains how our presence has been accepted so smoothly. I think a roomful of teenagers plopped into most corporations would cause some disruptions. At Accenture, however, it’s different, we have been smoothly included in the day to day operations. Even 23 extra people arriving at about the same time for lunch has not caused any noticeable chaos. (We actually split into two groups about six or seven minutes apart, so as not to overwhelm the cafeteria. Still.) Also, so many different people have helped us, some we’ve seen just once, some a dozen times. I’ve mentioned before that not all these people have ever even met before, yet it runs like clockwork. Perhaps it’s related to this ad hoc group model. People join the group as they are needed, then move back or onto some other group, wherever they are needed. It’s pretty cool, and seems to work better than the traditional model where job responsibility and “turf” are predestined.
After the panelists left, I told my students how incredibly proud I was of them; how professionally they conducted themselves and how excellent, thoughtful and varied the questions were. What great way to spend the morning.
Here is our view at lunch:
This also happened this morning. This is a completely unposed shot. Anisha (in the center, driving the computer) got her code to work, and the girls are gathered around as she explains it. ♥ This is how Girls Who Code should look.