At LinkedIn, we’re passionate about empowering the next generation of women in tech and helping all who are interested get their foot in the door. It’s this passion that has led us to the creation and continuation of our Women in Tech High School Trainee Program for the last several years and our partnership with WiTNY. Last January, LinkedIn was one of 46 companies to participate in their annual Winternship program and it was a great success. Therefore, to start 2019, we were excited to welcome a new group of interns into the NYC engineering office.
The Winternship program invites female undergraduates at CUNY to spend their winter breaks in a three week internship focused on technical projects at a local company office. This year, a cohort of five interns joined our video team and contributed to a project to incorporate metrics that would be helpful to other engineers or content producers. In addition to their work with the video team, the students participated in several other programming events, including a women in tech brunch, “Rock Your Profile” workshop, and lunch discussion with Rosanna Durruthy, our head of global diversity, inclusion, and belonging. The three weeks flew by quickly, but based on feedback from the interns, we believe that the impact will be long-lasting.
Learning never stops
By integrating into the workflow of our video team, the students had the opportunity to apply their skills outside of the classroom. They also had a front-row seat to experience what it really means to work in tech. As one intern shared, “My experience definitely showed me that I’m in the right field.” Several of the students also said that they were encouraged to see that asking questions and not knowing all the answers is okay, even as a professional engineer. One student shared, “They [professional engineers] all have times where they struggle with a task; however, they all know that they can ask questions and keep trying hard to get things done. This inspires me to keep trying my hardest even though I may not understand something right away.”
Building a support system
During last year’s program, we learned that many of the interns often felt isolated or discouraged in their predominantly male computer science classes. It didn’t help that as they progressed to higher-level coursework, more and more of their female classmates dropped out of the CS major. This year, we wanted to help combat this issue by assigning each intern a mentor to provide advice and encouragement, be a friendly face, and serve as an additional resource as the students continue their education. So far, the feedback we’ve received from the students is that they really appreciated this individualized mentoring.
We also discussed the experience of being a woman in computer science during a lunch with Rosanna. LinkedIn employees and the interns shared their personal experiences, and Rosanna talked about imposter syndrome, and how to overcome it by building a strong community and not being afraid of failure.