Last fall, New Relic hosted the inaugural ChickTech Bay Area Kickoff event, which is where I first learned about this great organization. ChickTech is a nonprofit dedicated to the goal of increasing the number of women and girls pursuing careers in technology. The organization offers free workshops, mentors, and internships to high school girls all around the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to statistics published on the ChickTech website, by 2018 there will only be enough computer science graduates in the United States to fill 29% of job openings. But we’re not doing a good enough job encouraging women to enter the tech sector—while women make up more than half of all college undergraduates, only one fifth of engineering undergraduates are female.
The chance to be a mentor
So when I first heard about ChickTech, I jumped at the chance to be a mentor. The mentorship program is designed to help teach girls and young women that careers in technology and engineering are not only challenging but also fun and rewarding. I was asked to bring an encouraging, can-do attitude as well as share my passion, experience, and lessons learned with the student I would be paired with. We would meet once a month throughout the school year with no set agenda, just an opportunity to discuss and engage in technology in any way that interested my student.
Growing up, I had always exceled at math and I ended up majoring in mathematics in college. However, I was too insecure to branch out to other technical areas like programming or engineering. I had a false perception that my peers had more experience in those areas and that I was somehow behind and would never be able to do well. While I love math, I really wish that I had been encouraged to explore additional technical subjects. I didn’t want other girls to face the same insecurities as I did, so decided to try and make a difference in the life of one person.
A day in the life here at New Relic
On Mentor Match Day I was paired with Mylen Cruzado, a sophomore at a San Francisco high school. We’ve been meeting once a month, and recently Mylen spent the whole day here at New Relic! I am a data analyst on the marketing team, and Mylen shadowed me to learn more about what a data analyst does as well as learn what it’s like to work at a software company.
Mylen got to meet many New Relic employees ranging from engineers and analysts to marketers and sales reps—we even ran into founder and CEO Lew Cirne on the elevator! She learned about each person’s position, the technologies they use to do their jobs, what they studied in school, and how it helped them get to where they are today.
I was able to teach Mylen about the various technologies that most of us analysts use on a regular basis. She expanded her knowledge of Microsoft Excel and learned how to create a data visualization. I introduced her to databases and how to write SQL. We also played around with New Relic Insights and she wrote her own NRQL queries. I even got a chance to expose her to R, a software environment for statistical computing.
To finish up her first day on the job, Mylen managed her own impressive project, completing an analysis of our marketing leads from beginning to end. First, she gathered the necessary data by creating a report in Salesforce.com and exporting the data into Microsoft Excel, where she performed numerous pivot tables on the data to slice and dice it by various attributes. She created visualizations of the data to quickly draw attention to the key messages, compiled a slide deck, and added her own narrative. At the end of the day, Mylen presented her final analysis to Isaac Wyatt, senior manager of Marketing Operations, and discussed the best next steps to take as well as further analysis that could be done.
A bright future
Mylen really enjoyed her day here at New Relic HQ. I was impressed with how quickly she was able to grasp complex topics and how eager she was to contribute and complete her own work. Helping Mylen grow and expand her horizons has given me a renewed passion for technology and has reaffirmed my commitment to the path I have chosen. Working with Mylen and seeing her excitement makes me hopeful about the future for girls in tech.