Young women get IT!
Not “it” but information technology, if that was a bit confusing.
This summer, a group of multi-cultural high school young women were exposed to a career in IT while taking part in Mercedes-Benz Financial Services IT co-op program.
“Working here created high expectations for my future career. I never felt out of place being a female in IT,” Neha Raju, a co-op program participant. “Everybody treated me with the same level of respect while teaching me real-world aspects of IT.”
Students were given the opportunity to work with industry standard practices for a highly competitive company in the automobile industry.
“We have a gender-diverse workforce, however, that is not the case in the IT field in general,” said Afia Phillips, ITM manager of IT security, risk & compliance at Mercedes-Benz.
Some projects that students were taken included information about 3-D printing, environmentally friendly IT and space exploration. The purpose of the program was to expose the young women to a career field so that they might qualified and interested in solving the issue of diversity, or lack thereof.
“According to a recent study, only 18 percent of computer science degrees were obtained by women in 2013 and in 2014, only 6 percent of corporate CIO positions are held by women,” said Phillips. “Through this program, we are trying to be part of the solution by introducing young women to the IT world and show them various career options in the field.”
Each co-op participant also had a chance to highlight how the program helped sharpen their skills and shared their future plans with the company’s senior leadership.
“When I first began the program, I expected that the majority of my job would be coding. However, I realized there’s much more to IT than that,” said Keyaria Walker, a recent high school graduate who participated in the co-op. “The IT field isn’t exclusively tech oriented. Rather, at MBFS, it is also very customer-centric and communicating with my colleagues is extremely important.”
The program challenged students to overcome social stereotypes along with manage work loads that were indicative of the real world.
“Work assignments weren’t just observation or ‘busy work,’ but rather real, hands-on experience that can be used in the student’s future studies and professional lives,” said Melinda A. Mernovage, media relations manager for communications and corporate marketing. “Throughout the summer, the students had a chance to design and develop websites and iPhone apps, learn Java coding and even perform an IT security project.”
Young women get IT!