Tag Archives: BCS Women Scotland

BCS Women 2013 Kickoff

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As a new BCS member I was really pleased and excited to be invited to the second BCS Women Scotland Kickoff event,  held at IBM’s Edinburgh office.  The evening was attended by women from many professional and academic disciplines, including my very own university, and so we kicked off with some speed networking before settling down to the evening’s  guest speaker, Sharon Wallace.

Sharon has forged a successful career for herself in sales through direct selling company The Pampered Chef and delivered a really inspiring and lively speech on women in leadership.  She talked about her own experiences in the workplace and how she learned from them, good and bad, to set up and run her own business after starting a family.  She is quite rightly proud of her achievements as she has worked hard towards her goals despite the prejudice (some men just don’t seem to understand why a woman would ever want to continue her career after having kids *rolls eyes*), referencing McKinsey’s thought provoking Women Matter research and Simon Sinek’s great TED Talk on leadership.  I remember watching Simon’s talk on Youtube a while back and it always gives me a lovely glow when someone references a video or paper I’ve previously encountered myself!

After a yummy supper we were treated to a talk on the development of the smart city, in particular Glasgow’s fuel poverty (or “affordable warmth”) project by our host Sharon Moore, who works for IBM as an industry architect.  After watching a video of a little girl called Paige showing us around her damp infested flat in a BBC documentary, Sharon spoke of IBM’s involvement in the project, discussing the obstacles in reaching as many affected people as possible in both the affluent and poorer ares of Glasgow and the technology and techniques used to overcome these obstacles.  The project recently won £24m of investment from the government which is a welcome financial boost to the project.  It was interesting to see how the idea of the Internet of Things (I know it’s a Wikipedia link but it’s a good article, I promise!) helped to develop this project in particular.

The talk was followed by cake and networking, where I got chatting to Chelsea Sievewright, who as it turns out was also at November’s Target Jobs event and remembered me from the queue for the toilets, of all places!  I even swapped my business cards with a few folks and made several good contacts.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and highly recommend you go along to the next BCS Women event held in your area.

Preparing for the professional world

I might only be in my first year, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from people at the various events I’ve attended in the past few months alone it’s this:  don’t be shy to sing your own praises and promote yourself.  I’ve admittedly neglected this area as I’m actually kinda shy when it comes to this sort of thing – hard to believe, I know…

However, I’m determined to go places after graduation and I think it makes total sense to plan my route right at the very beginning of my journey.  Today I’d like to share with you some excellent tips that I’ve picked up so far:

1. Web Presence

The vast amount of social media sites that people recommend can be overwhelming, but once they’re set up they’re easy to maintain.  I recently set up an About.me page, which acts as a handy starting point for all the social media sites I’m signed up to and includes a link to direct folk to my biography.  If you’re on Twitter, it’s very easy to create and manage a separate, professional account if you want to keep your personal life away from your professional presence.

However, maintaining so many profiles can get messy so I decided to buy myself a domain and set up a website to showcase everything I’m involved in.  I like the idea of having a central point of contact and I can also have a section on my radio experience.  Luckily I’m married to a web developer so I can sit back and eat cake while he’s making the magic happen, but for those who aren’t so lucky, trust me when I say putting a website together is easier than you think (EDIT:  my husband says that he didn’t work like a dog for his degree in Web Technologies for me to say that web design is easy.  I’m now contractually obliged to tell you that web design is up there with rocket science).  WordPress itself has a lot of handy tools to help novices build a decent looking site and its modular design means you can cobble something decent together in minutes with a little bit of drag and drop.

2.  Business Cards

The first time I was asked for my business card (by the wonderful Dr Sue Black, no less) I was really flattered that someone would actually ask me for one!  When I mentioned that I didn’t have any, Dr Black strongly advised me to order some cards as they come in very useful at networking events and will help the people you meet to remember who you are.  I took her up on her advice and am now awaiting my first batch of 50 cards.

In addition to sticking a mugshot on the card to help with the whole names-to-faces thing, I’ve added my course and university details, my new website, email address, Twitter name, phone number and About.me page.  I’ve picked up a few business cards from people already and I’m find them very handy, usually when I’m talking to a friend about who I’ve met and I need to remind myself who it was I met!

3.  Events

My first big event was Target Jobs’s IT’s Not Just For The Boys! in London last November.  The event was primarily a careers event made up of around 120 STEM students and representatives from many different companies.  I was lucky enough to be offered a place for the event and thoroughly enjoyed myself, taking advantage of the opportunity to network like mad and make some good contacts.  I’m also off to the BCS Women Scotland Kickoff event next week and am looking forward to tomorrow’s Tech Talk, hosted by the university’s Institute for Informatics & Digital Innovation (IIDI).  I also attended the Connect Networking Lunch last Friday and had a great time mingling with STEM students and staff.

Before you nod off, my intention isn’t to bore you silly with the above, it’s to demonstrate the sheer amount of events and networking opportunities there are out there for female STEM students.  There are literally dozens of events every month where students are welcome and I would actively encourage you to attend as many as possible.

Don’t be scared if you’ve just started your degree – I’m only in first year myself, but I’ve never found that to be an issue.  From what I’ve experienced, people tend to be impressed with students taking the opportunity to attend events and network from the off and I truly believe that keeping up the momentum is beneficial to your future career.  The more you’re seen at events, the more likely people are to remember you and it’s a fantastic – and cheap! – way to build up a professional network.  Keep an eye out for any events your university is running, but don’t be shy to go along to any events held in your area.  I like to keep an eye on Eventbrite to see what’s coming up and they also offer a good smartphone app.

I hope you find the above advice as useful as I have and I hope you have as much fun as I do as you schmooze your way around the lectures and events.

Joining the BCS

As of today I’m a proud member of the British Computer Society, hurray!  As I’m a student it only costs £50 for four years of membership and after browsing the benefits of joining I think that it’s definitely money well spent.  It’s made me feel really grown up, joining a chartered institution…

I’m particularly looking forward to my first BCS Women Scotland event in February.  I’m a member of the Connect group at uni and thoroughly enjoy our meetings, so I’m really looking forward to joining a similar group with wider connections.  It also gives me a chance to tell everyone what a lovely university Napier is!