Programming Our Future
By Michelle Carrico, Future in I.T. Program Manager, Jacksonville, FL July 07, 2017 01:30 PM
I’ve always been impressed and proud of the emphasis Citi puts on developing our female talent; providing numerous networking and development training specifically designed for women. But it’s not enough to just develop our existing internal talent; to truly position ourselves as forward-compatible, we must also focus on the future women of our workforce, specifically our future technology workforce. Recent data surrounding women in technology is concerning: according to Girls Who Code, the percentage of women pursuing Computer Science degrees continues to decline, with only 18% of technology degrees earned by women. 18%! I am proud to share the amazing work Citi is doing to reverse this statistic through the FUTURE | Women in I.T. program. This program aims to bridge this I.T. gender gap by educating, exciting and empowering our younger generation of girls to learn about careers in technology.
This summer, the Jacksonville, Florida Citi campus hosted our fourth annual one-week summer internship for 18 high school girls as part of the Women in I.T. program, providing young girls a chance to explore the technology industry in a hands-on learning environment. Their internship objective was to create a robot that would get them excited about technology, and then pitch their idea to an assigned and the senior leadership team about why their product should be chosen.
The girls were broken into teams and were tasked to build and program a robot to compete at the end of the week in a skills challenge, consisting of both an autonomous portion (pre-programmed code without the team members handling the remote control) and a driver-controlled portion. They also had to develop branding to market their product and then create a presentation to pitch their idea. To create an even more “real-world” environment, each team was given a tight budget to accomplish their tasks.
This internship program is about much more than learning how to assemble and program a robot. The participants were coached on presentation skills, learned about Agile vs. waterfall methodologies, honed teamwork skills, toured tech workspaces, and more importantly, they gained a better understanding of what a professional work environment looks like.
Maybe the most important benefit of their experience are the bonds these girls created with one another during their five days. Research shows that many girls drop computer science because they don’t see enough peers that look like them in classes. I am thrilled that through this program we are able to provide an opportunity for teenage girls to see other teenage girls interested in the same things. It is extremely motivating and exciting to see them walk through the door on Monday as strangers, and walk out the door on Friday exchanging cell phone numbers as close friends.
I am excited about the momentum we have created through this program in just a few short years, and I look forward to Citi reaping future rewards of the program as our girls graduate as gifted and talented women entering the workforce after college, hopefully – back through our doors as technologists.
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