On December 8, 2023, IGNITE Worldwide hosted a virtual IGNITE How Get tp a Job in Technology: Non-Technical Interview Skills Work-Based Learning Experience with Microsoft. The event engaged students from Skyline High School in Oakland, California, and featured an impressive lineup of Volunteers from Microsoft, including Principal Software Engineer Parul Matah, Senior Program Manager Roopa Natarajan, and Senior Data Scientist Megan Schumacher.
Facilitator and Microsoft Sr. Program Manager, Liz Bander, kicked off the event by highlighting the diverse opportunities within the technology field. She conveyed the message that technology careers extend beyond coding, encompassing roles like architects, sales representatives, lawyers, human resources professionals, accountants, and more. Emphasizing the importance of a growth mindset and the willingness to learn, Liz assured students that interviewing is a skill that can be honed with practice.
The students were then divided into breakout rooms to practice interviewing by sharing insights about their favorite classes. This interactive session allowed them to gain hands-on experience and valuable feedback from industry professionals.
The panel discussion added depth to the event, with Roopa sharing her experiences in protecting Azure products from hackers, Parul discussing her work on Azure databases, and Megan delving into the world of algorithms. The Q&A session provided students with practical insights into the tech industry, covering topics such as internship requirements, decision-making processes for career paths, and the diversity at Microsoft.
The final round of advice from the Panelists and other Volunteers rounded out the event. Roopa encouraged students not to be afraid and seek guidance, Data Analyst Sowmya Keshavaiah emphasized the value of asking questions without fear of judgment, Megan Schumacher urged exploration to discover one’s interests, Parul highlighted the importance of showcasing problem-solving skills, and Sr Manager and Product Manager, Microsoft IDNA Natalie Seaton encouraged students not to limit themselves, emphasizing the breadth of possibilities within the tech industry.
Through engaging discussions, practical activities, and valuable advice, the event provided students with a holistic view of the opportunities available in the world of technology and provided them with skills to use in pursuit of STEM careers.
Special thanks to Dr. Ayo Akatugba, the IGNITE Educator at Skyline High School, and Barry Scott, Chair of OUSD CTE Advisory Board, for their support and participation. Thank you to Liz Bander for serving as Facilitator and Activity Leader. Thank you to Parul Matah and Roopa Natarajan for contributing as Breakout Room Leaders and Panelists. Thank you to Natalie Seaton, Sowmya Keshavaiah, and Jita Dash for serving as Breakout Room Leaders. Additional thanks to Megan Schumacher for being a Panelist and Rebekah Luce for being the day’s Tech Host.
After attending this event:
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“This event made me realize that landing a job at a large tech company is not impossible. It also inspired me because I don’t have to know how to code. I could even apply for a job at Microsoft and might be able to get them to pay for my postgrad.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“I learned from one of the panelists how to conduct an interview and how I should value myself in a job. I was told about how I should think about open-minded interview questions.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“This experience really opened my mind to how many options there are to pursue in the tech industry. The volunteers really opened up about how she got into the tech industry, and it really inspired me because although I’m low income, I could take many opportunities and get to where I want to be.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“I learned about the different types of jobs and how you don’t need a coding job to work at Microsoft. They hire for almost every job, from crime analysts to lawyers. I really have a new perspective on what jobs are available to me. I learned that you don’t need a specific job to work at a specific place. I learned you don’t need to know how to code to work in tech. I will definitely use this in my decision for my future job. I really enjoyed this event about tech jobs at Microsoft, and I’m super grateful and thankful to everyone who talked and answered questions.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event inspired me to look at more of my options. I have been looking through my options for the future. This went hand in hand with my way of thinking about learning new things in life. I definitely might look at working at a company like Microsoft as a future option. This brought me more of a refreshing perspective on different jobs that people have, especially in a company that revolves around technology. Getting to learn that not every job revolves around coding, but it does go hand in hand with it. The meeting did have me see other options I can pursue in my future. I understand how there are multiple jobs you can do.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
It’s Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more and are dedicated to advancing human and organizational achievement. Microsoft encourages teams, business customers and external stakeholders to find out more about Microsoft’s technology and encourages students and teachers looking to explore even more about Microsoft history and leadership.
About IGNITE Program Work-Based Learning Experience Events:
Virtual Work-Based Learning Experiences are hosted on a virtual platform so students can sign on from anywhere and include an interactive, hands-on STEM activity focused on skill-building and real-world applications, like artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, or engineering, followed by an IGNITE Panel and Q&A discussion.
About IGNITE Worldwide:
IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at www.igniteworldwide.org.