I’m taking a break from geeky technology today to write about a great experience I recently had. Last week, I had the opportunity to assist in hosting 100 high school girls at our Microsoft Technology Center for the 2012 Microsoft DigiGirlz Day.
The day was packed with great information on Microsoft products/services, tips for professional networking and preparing for a career in technology. I also had the pleasure of participating in a “speed networking” event which allowed the attendees to practice rapid-fire networking with a stranger. I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and passion many girls had towards technology-related careers.
I wanted to tackle the two most popular questions I was asked that day with a couple responses here.
“What should I study for a career in _______?”
Well, for starters, I’m not a career advisor, nor have I ever played one on TV. As a disclaimer, nothing will beat meeting with a professional guidance or career counselor to talk about your unique situation.
With that said, my biggest feedback to students looking for advice on their education is to studying general disciplines that will carry over multiple jobs or even careers. For instance, business, communications, etc. There are several statistics that claim the average worker will change jobs 10 times in their career. Also, knowing that there are fewer jobs today than in past years, it’s important to spend time distinguishing yourself from your peers. Two graduates in the same program will have similar qualifications – why should someone hire you over another candidate?
Versatile Qualifications. It is very important to learn relevant skills for your career. In addition, differentiating yourself and adding transferrable skills will give you the longest return on your education investment. A minor in business or communications can add depth and versatility to your qualifications.
Internships/Experience. Do as many internships, job shadows and informational interviews as you can. Seriously. Not only do they add real-world experience, but it is a perfect way to build your network. People getting jobs today are doing this. If the company you intern or meet with isn’t hiring, at least ask to leave a resume behind and maintain a relationship.
Stay Connected. Build your network. If nothing else, take someone out for coffee every couple of months. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask them questions about their job. It will get easier as you go. It may be surprising, but companies often create jobs just because they want someone to work with them. Always strive to leave that lasting impression.
“Where can I go to learn more about Microsoft technology?”
Here’s a list of resources for students to explore.
Student Hub: http://www.microsoft.com/student/en-us/Connect/default.aspx#fbid=wPyV0bbZ4Cl
Student Newsletter: https://register.msftstudent.com/signup.aspx
Microsoft Careers/College: http://careers.microsoft.com/careers/en/us/collegehome.aspx
Microsoft Students to Business: http://www.microsoft.com/studentstobusiness/home/default.aspx
More information on DigiGirlz: http://www.microsoft.com/about/diversity/en/us/programs/digigirlz/default.aspx