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Latest articles from the Geeky Girl Reality Blog

Name:  Safiyyah Iqbal Role/Occupation: PhD Student at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand Country: South Africa Safiyyah Iqbal studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she majored in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, all of which sparked her interested in Palaeontology and Form and Function. She then completed her BSc honours and MSc in Palaeontology under the supervision of Prof. Kristian Carlson and Prof. Fernando Abdala. Iqbal is currently a PhD Student at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she is completing her doctoral studies in Palaeontology, under the supervision of Prof. Kristian Carlson, Prof. Fernando Abdala, Prof. Frank Kienhofer and Prof. Jonah Choiniere. Her research involves working on the Finite Element Analysis of Thrinaxodon liorhinus limb bones, which falls under the umbrella of cynodonts research. Iqbal considers herself to be a bit of a tech freak and loves working on computers. Her current research combines her love for computers and palaeontology and involves using microCT scans of the specimens that undergo certain loading conditions in order to infer why there is a change in gait. Her research advances the techniques used in Palaeontology and is non-invasive as fossils are precious. At present , Iqbal can be described as a Functional Morphologist specialising in digital analysis. When asked about her experience as a woman in the STEM space she says that “there are challenging days where you have to stand strong and know that you worked just as hard as the next person and deserve to be in the position that you are in.” She also emphasised having a strong support system and believes it to be “a bonus to any experience or trial that you need to overcome be it as a scientist or just as a female.” Her advice to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field is to “never give up no matter how hard the journey may be or obstacles you face. Always remember where you started, where you are and where you need to be.” In her personal experience, she is always filled with courage when she recalls her parents’ tears of joy and the huge smiles when her name was called for the reception of her degree. Iqbal considers the milestones in her career to be the precious moments where everything makes sense and seems like a blessing or reward for all the hardships she has had to overcome. As a religious individual in a science environment, Iqbal believes that having “full faith in the Almighty, knowing and appreciating everything from a creation point of view makes managing [her] personal life and career easier”. At times, especially around deadlines, when the balance is threatened, having parents and friends who encourage and motivate her helps to maintain the balance. Read more about Safiyyah Iqbal, a hardworking humble Geeky Girl, who combines the old with the new, palaeontology with computers, as she works as a Functional Morphologist specialising in digital analysis.  Describe what your work entails. I am working on the Finite Element Analysis of Thrinaxodon liorhinus limb bones and more broadly cynodonts. I am a bit of a tech freak and love working on computers. My current research involves microCT scans of the specimens that undergo certain loading conditions in order to infer why there is a change in gait. My research advances the techniques used in Palaeontology and is non-invasive as fossils are precious. I am now a Functional Morphologist specialising in digital analysis. Describe your STEM journey. I started studying for my Bachelor of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2009, where I majored in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences and thus became very interested in Palaeontology and Form and Function. I completed my BSc honours and MSc in Palaeontology under the supervision of Prof. Kristian Carlson and Prof. Fernando Abdala. Currently, I am completing my PhD in Palaeontology, under the supervision of Prof. Kristian Carlson, Prof. Fernando Abdala, Prof. Frank Kienhofer and Prof. Jonah Choiniere. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? That I could make a difference in science. I could be a motivation to other Muslim female scientists. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space? There are challenging days where you have to stand strong and know that you worked just as hard as the next person and deserve to be in the position that you are in. But having a strong support system is always a bonus to any experience or trial that you need to overcome be it as a scientist or just as a female. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field? Never give up no matter how hard the journey may be or obstacles you face. Always remember where you started, where you are and where you need to be. Think of the end result. Personal experience: seeing the tears of joy in my parents eyes and the huge smiles on their faces as my name was called for my degree. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”? I personally think any land is a land of opportunity, it lies within us. I do hope that the growth of women in STEM becomes exponential. As a female, we are capable of anything. We are mothers, sisters, daughters and well establish career individuals. And all this can be done as long as we see our potential and go for it. Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career? Milestones...moments where everything makes sense and the blessing/reward for all the hardships are given...Most definitely. How do you maintain a work-life balance? I am a practicing Muslim female in science who has full faith in The Almighty, knowing and appreciating everything as from a creation point of view makes managing my personal life and my career easier to manage. Sometimes the balance does go off, especially around deadlines but having my parents and friends who always encourage and motivate me always help to balance the stressful life. Who is your role model? Who inspires you? Both my parents have always been my role models that have greatly influenced me. Growing up with their teachings from our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and watching them go through everyday life inspired me to be like them. Proving that I should never give up and always strive to my full potential. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? My MSc is published on Wiredspace.wits.ac.za. I am currently completing two more publications. And feel free to contact me for any information at safiyyahiqbal@gmail.com Twitter: @Safz_Rapunzel Safiyyah Iqbal  interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter  @dhrutidd
Name: Senamile Masango Role/Occupation: Nuclear Physicist, Founder and Chairperson of Women in Science and Engineering in Africa (Wise Africa). Country: South Africa Senamile Masango is a nuclear physicist and the founder and chairperson of Women in Science and Engineering in Africa (Wise Africa). Wise Africa is a non profit organization that aims to provide leadership and role models to young people aspiring to enter the fields of science and engineering as well as lobbies for the advancement of women in science and engineering and highlights and addresses the problems that are faced by women in these fields. Whilst in high school, Masango was introduced to astronomy by her geography teacher and discovered that people could travel to space. She remembers being intrigued by the universe and where we come from, “I wanted to be a first African to travel to space,” she recalls.  She completed matric at Mlokothwa High school and went on to study towards a BSc Physics and Electronics at the University of Zululand. After the unfortunate loss of her daughter, Sindisiwe, she decided to pursue further studies and studied Nuclear Physics. She then joined the Coulex group led by Professor Orce at the University of the Western Cape. Masango recently submitted her Masters thesis in Nuclear Physics which focused on the structure of the nucleus with the method called Coulomb excitation. She also came back to South Africa to collect data for the PhD research which she will continue in Canada.  Masango is ecstatic about the contribution that her research is adding to the physics body as much remains undiscovered about the nucleus and as she excitedly relays, “until date no one knows the formula of a nuclear force.” Masango was not only part of the first African led experiment at CERN, but was also the only female in the group, which ultimately lead her to receive the title of the first African woman to conduct the first African led experiment at CERN. She received this acknowledgment from the president.  She feels that being a woman in the STEM field is not an easy feat, “no one believes in you, you have to prove that you are capable and work two times harder.” She believes that girls are discouraged at an early age from STEM fields either because they believe that science and engineering is just too difficult or that it is simply not for them.  As a continent in terms of STEM, Masango feels that Africa still has a long way to go, “we are not there yet because people are still struggling to access basics needs of such as food, water, electricity… so our government is focusing on that,” she explains. The other challenge she believes the continent is facing is infrastructure and elaborates that, “we all know that science is a practical subject, [yet] most of the schools don’t have science facilities like laboratories.” Hence she is also motivated by the use of the platform provided by Wise Africa to make a difference and feels that she is “making education fashionable.”   Read more about Senamile Masango below, a Geeky Girl who dreamt about space travel as a student and now affords other young people the ability to dream through her work and organisation.  Describe what your work entails.   I am a founder and chairperson of Women in Science and Engineering in Africa (Wise Africa), a non profit organization that is registered under the Department of Social Development in South Africa. The aim is to provide leadership and role models for young people wishing to enter the fields of science and engineering, to lobby for the advancement of women in science and engineering, to raise the profile of women scientists and engineers and to highlight and address problems that are faced by women in these fields.  Describe your STEM journey.   When I was in Grade 8, my geography teacher Mr. Ziqubu introduced us to astronomy and I learned that there are people who travel to space. I was intrigued by the universe and where we come from. I wanted to be a first African to travel to space, but Mark Shuttleworth beat me to it in 2002.  After completing matric at Mlokothwa High school in 2003, I went on to study BSc Physics and Electronics at the University of Zululand. In January 2016, I lost my daughter Sindisiwe in  a car accident then after her funeral I decided to pursue my studies and studied Nuclear Physics; in 2017 I joined the Coulex group at the University of Western Cape that is led by Professor Orce. I just submitted my Masters thesis in Nuclear Physics (I am studying the structure of the nucleus with the method called Coulomb excitation) and I just came back from Canada to collect my PhD data.  What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?   What excites me through my research work is to contribute my findings to the physics body since the nucleus is still under research, until this date no one knows the formula of a nuclear force. What motivates me when I get out of bed is to go and make a difference through Wise Africa, we are making education fashionable.    How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space? It not easy to be a woman in this field; we have a long way to go, no one believes in you, you have to prove that you are capable and work two times extra harder.  What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field?   Girls are discouraged at an early age that science and engineering is difficult or it is not for them; young girls must close their ears and believe on themselves.  As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”?   As Africa we still have a long way to go, we are not there yet because people are still struggling to access the basics needs of such as food, water, electricity etc., so our government is focusing on that. The other challenge we are facing is infrastructure; we all know that science is a practical subject, most of the schools don’t have science facilities like laboratories.  Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career?   I was part of the first African led experiment at CERN and I was the only female in the group, that has lead me to hold a title as the first African woman to conduct the first African led experiment at CERN. I even received an acknowledgment from the former President, President Jacob Zuma.  How do you maintain a work-life balance? I plan ahead, I set career goals, I exercise and try to eat healthy, I value time, I do make time for myself, I read and have a willing heart to learn.  Who is your role model? Who inspires you? My late father Dr JJA Masango, he is the one who planted a seed of education in me and I am also inspired by him. He was all about giving back to his community.  Where can more information or insight into your work be found? My page on Facebook:  Senamile Masango Instagram: senamilemasango Twitter Handle: senamile33 Senamile Masango interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter  @dhrutidd
Say hi :) who are you what do you do? HeeeyyooooOOo! I’m Diana Kris. I’m currently a software engineer at Tumblr working on our micro-services/infrastructure. I’m also currently doing work for hackNY and Girls Who Code. I majored in Computer Science at Rutgers University, previously interned at Adobe, Qualcomm, and Gilt Groupe.   How did you arrive at this career? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? It’s hard to say really… I always knew I loved tech but I didn’t really understand the field when I was younger. I’m the first of my family to graduate college and my mom is a housekeeper. I actually grew up in the house my mom worked for (she’s a live-in housekeeper). So when I was younger, I wanted to be a business woman because that’s who my mom worked for and it seemed successful. Or a nurse.. because that’s what I saw a lot of Filipinos do. When I was in high school a family friend suggested I apply to this thing called “Girls Who Code.” So I applied, got into their first cohort, fell in love with tech, and that’s where it started!  What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? The whole Tumblr team. Tumblr’s pretty small and everybody is ridiculously nice. I walk into work and everybody’s a friendly face. We also have great meme’s in our slack channels.  What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? My personal cure for stress: sleep and todo lists. I write down everything I need to get done and the amount of time it will take me to finish each thing. I have dozens of notebooks FILLED with lists and doodles of everything that are currently stressing me out. I also map out all the things that are going on in my life currently. So as of right now - I’m working full-time, team lead for a Girls Who Code/Department of Education project, and co-directing the hackNY hackathon. It’s a lot of stress but it’s all worth it.  Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? My mom. She has a lot of empathy, patience, and confidence. She’s been through a lot of shit - coming from the Philippines & working as a housekeeper for 30 years. I’m so grateful that growing up she taught me how to have grit. I think her empathy and patience is what helped me through CS.  What advice would you give to your 18 year old self? The hardships you go through will make you stronger. It’s all worth it.  Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? STEM is hard , it takes perseverance to hit compile for the 30th time in the row. But it’ all ends up working, I promise! Ask for help . If you are stuck on something and you’ve googled and researched for at least 30 minutes, ask for help! I used to believe that coding was a man sitting alone in a dark room figuring everything out himself. It’s the opposite. It’s sitting with your senior engineer mentor/manager in front of your computer screen debugging and figuring things out. (Of course after you’ve tried to figure it out yourself). Join a club/network . Join your university’s computer science club! Join Girls Who Code! These strong networks keep me sane in the long run. It’s so relieving to know other people who are going through the same stuff as you.   How do you measure your success? I think as engineers we’re taught to measure our success by how many projects we’ve finished, how many internships we’ve done, job offers we’ve received etc. While that’s all fine I guess, it’s important to include failures and obstacles into the equation. I have failed so many times. I have been rejected so many times. I have disappointed myself so many times in a variety of situations. I measure my success by how many failures I’ve learned and grew from.   Where can we find out more about your work? tumblr.com :) Just kidding lol, I’m working on a lot of things right now including something super exciting coming out on October 11th (international day of the girl). Follow me on social media! (Which will be answered in the next question).  Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Twitter: @_dianakris IG: @dianakris website: navdiana.github.io
Name: Kim Buchholtz Role/Occupation: Lecturer in Physiotherapy, University of Cape Town Country: South Africa Kim Buchholtz is a lecturer in physiotherapy; her career is an interesting combination of work in physiotherapy and education. She currently teaches the Undergraduate BSc Physiotherapy and MSc Exercise and Sports Physiotherapy courses and also supervises students in their undergraduate research and Masters degrees. Although Buchholtz was always interested in physiotherapy or sports science, she wasn’t sure what to study and so after high school, she spent a gap year in the United Kingdom (UK) working at a school. She knew it would be difficult to get into the program, but took a chance and applied and got in to study her BSc Physiotherapy from 2002 to 2005 at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She was convinced that she had made the right decision in her third year of study when clinical rotations through hospitals and clinics began. She has loved working with patients ever since. Buchholtz’s vast career spans community service for a year at the Airforce Base at Langebaanweg, three years at a private sports and orthopaedic practice in Vredehoek, she started of her own practice,  Kim Buchholtz Physiotherapy, she completed a post graduate certificate in Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy and then completed an MPhil in Sports Physiotherapy at UCT by coursework and dissertation. She has also worked with IPL cricket players in while they were in Cape Town, as well as a number of South African figure skaters. She has also been the head physiotherapist for the Australian Blind Cricket team for three World Cup tournaments, held in Cape Town (2014), India (2017) and the United Arab Emirates (2018). She recently started her PhD, which focuses on the investigation of injury and factors affecting mountain bikers, and sold her practice at the beginning of this year to allow myself a bit more time for the research, whilst also working her part-time job at UCT. One of the things that Buchholtz enjoys about being a physiotherapist is “working with patients and watching them make progress and improve their quality of life as they heal from injury.” Although she no longer does clinical work, she gets “a huge amount of fulfilment in seeing young adults grow to love physiotherapy and learn... to train competent, well balanced physiotherapists who will go out into South Africa and improve the lives of people around them.” Buchholtz feels that despite physiotherapy being a female dominated field, sometimes female physiotherapists are still seen merely as massage therapists or carers, but believes “as more women move into research in this field, our credibility is improving.” Although she is not sure if “female researchers are taken as seriously as the male researchers just yet” and as heard of some females being treated badly at conferences in spite of being guest and keynote speakers. Her advice to young women aspiring to enter the field of physiotherapy is “to take opportunities as they present themselves” regardless if they pay well as they give great exposure. It is most important “to build a network… Sometimes this means attending courses or conferences and introducing yourself to leaders in your field… The more people that you know globally in your field, the more opportunities will present themselves.” With regards to her opinion of physiotherapy in Africa, she feels that funding is always a problem unfortunately, and particularly in the area of sports and exercise medicine which is still seen as an ‘elite’ field.”  But she also believes that this will change with time as “an understanding of the true benefit in using physical activity for disease prevention and management will open doors for funding.”  Buchholtz believes “that physiotherapy is really well placed to improve the quality of life of our population, not just in treating injuries, but in offering physical activity programmes to improve overall health.” Read more about Geeky Girl, Kim Buchholtz’s vast diverse career spanning over 12 years in the insightful interview below.   Describe what your work entails. I am a lecturer in physiotherapy. Currently I teach on the Undergraduate BSc Physiotherapy and MSc Exercise and Sports Physiotherapy courses. I also supervise students in their undergraduate research (as part of the undergraduate Physiotherapy degree) and Masters degrees. My job is currently a combination of work in physio, but also education, which has been really interesting. Describe your STEM journey. I studied my BSc Physiotherapy from 2002 to 2005 at UCT. I had taken a year off after school and spent my gap year in the UK working at a school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, although Physio or Sports Science had always been in the back of my mind. I knew it would be difficult to get in, so I decided to apply and to see what happened. I only really knew that I had made the right decision by the time I was in 3 rd year and we started our clinical rotations through the hospitals and in the clinics. I have loved working with patients ever since. After graduating, I completed my community service year at the Airforce Base at Langebaanweg, and then moved back to Cape Town. I worked in a private sports and orthopaedic practice in Vredehoek for almost 3 years, before starting my own practice (Kim Buchholtz Physiotherapy) in September of 2009. I completed a post graduate certificate in Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapy in 2009, and then completed an MPhil in Sports Physiotherapy at UCT by coursework and dissertation in 2013. I started my PhD investigating Injury and factors affecting in Mountain bikers at the beginning of 2017, and hope to complete it in 2020. I have been extremely lucky to work with IPL cricket players in 2009 while they were in Cape Town, as well as a number of South African figure skaters. I have been the Head physio for the Australian Blind Cricket team for 3 World Cup tournaments, held in Cape Town (2014), India (2017) and the United Arab Emirates (2018). This year I am working part-time in my job at UCT while focussing on my own research and PhD and trying to grow my academic profile in the research world. I sold my practice at the beginning of this year to allow myself a bit more time for the research. What excites you about your job? What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? I have always really enjoyed working with patients and watching them make progress and improve their quality of life as they heal from injury. While I miss my patients from the practice now that I am no longer doing clinical work, I get a huge amount of fulfilment in seeing young adults grow to love physio and learn. I really hope that I am helping to train competent, well balanced physios who will go out into South Africa and improve the lives of people around them. I feel that physio is really well placed to improve the quality of life of our population, not just in treating injuries, but in offering physical activity programmes to improve overall health. How would you describe your experience as a woman in the STEM space? Physiotherapy is a female dominated field, so it’s far more unusual to have men around. As a result sometimes we are still seen as massage therapists or carers, but as more women move in research in this field, our credibility is improving. I am not sure that the female researchers are taken as seriously as the male researchers just yet, and I have heard more than one report of females being treated badly at conferences in spite of being guest and keynote speakers. There is a very positive and public move away from ‘manels’ at conferences and recently I have noticed a call to boycott conferences that are made up of all white, all male speakers and experts. I think this is a really positive move in the right direction. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the STEM field? You need to take opportunities as they present themselves. Sometimes in the early days of your career you may take jobs or roles that don’t pay what you feel you deserve, but they give you great exposure and allow you to make contacts. The most important career move you can make is to build a network. Sometimes this means attending courses or conferences and introducing yourself to leaders in your field, which is incredibly daunting. The more people that you know globally in your field, the more opportunities will present themselves. I recently noticed an advert on twitter looking for research assistants for a study run from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. It is in telerehabilitation which is a fascinating concept that we can potentially use in South Africa to provide services to outlying areas. I am now working with the team in Australia on this study which has opened up a number of opportunities and different working relationships overseas. As a STEM woman in Africa, how do you foresee the growth and progress of STEM on the continent? Is Africa a “land of opportunity”? In Health Sciences particularly, we are perfectly positioned to improve health and quality of life of the general population. Funding is always a problem unfortunately, and particularly in the area of sports and exercise medicine which is still seen as an ‘elite’ field. I’m sure that over time an understanding of the true benefit in using physical activity for disease prevention and management will open doors for funding in my area of interest Have there been any milestone moments or eureka moments in your career? In my 3 rd year of working, I was feeling a bit bored and wasn’t sure if physio was the right career for me. I was considering doing a business management course part-time with a potential move into that area. My boss at the time suggested I do the OMT course which is an advance practice course to hone your treatment and assessment skills. During the course it completely changed my outlook… I realised that I knew more than I thought I did, but also that there was so much more to learn. It really inspired me to study further and to keep up to date with the current evidence based practice. Without having completed that course, I may have left physio and would definitely not have followed the academic pathway that I find myself in now. Last year I had a minor argument with a tenant who was renting from me in my previous practice, as well as having a minor health scare (that had the potential to become major). Those were really the catalysts to me analysing what I was trying to achieve and where I wanted to go. After that I decided to try and reduce some of the stress and workload so that I was able to be more focus and less drained. How do you maintain a work-life balance? It has been very difficult in the past, especially as you are trying to build your name and reputation in the early career years. My career growth has definitely negatively impacted on my social life and my health. After 12 years of working almost non-stop, I have significantly reduced my workload this year in order to catch my breath a bit. I have definitely missed out on social activities and overseas travel as it is very difficult to leave a practice for a few weeks, but in the long run I am happy to be where I am now at 35 years old. Who is your role model? Who inspires you? We are really lucky in physio to have many great researchers, both male and female: Gwendolene Jull, Alison Grimaldi, Mark Laslett, Peter O’ Sullivan, Karim Kahn… the list goes on and on. They have also made themselves very available to the public on twitter and are happy to debate and discuss different components of their work. Locally we have amazing physios like Dr Janine Gray, Helene Simpson, Michelle Swart, Megan Dutton, Chris Allan, all working in Sports and Exercise Physio and I admire and appreciate them. They are also great colleagues, willing to discuss anything, and extremely knowledgeable. I have an amazing mentor, friend, colleague and supervisor who has been with me for most of my physio journey. Dr Theresa Burgess joined UCT as a lecturer in my final years and has supervised me through my undergraduate, Masters and now PhD research. I am very lucky to be able to work in the department with her as well. She has always guided me in my career and been exceptionally supportive of any decision I make. I suspect that my career would have been very different if I had not had her guidance and friendship. Where can more information or insight into your work be found? Information on the physio courses can be found on the university websites. For UCT the URL is: http://www.dhrs.uct.ac.za/dhrs/divisions/physiotherapy/about For physiotherapy is general, the website of the South African Society of Physiotherapy is: https://saphysio.co.za/ Twitter:  @kimbphysio Kim Buchholtz interviewed by Dhruti Dheda Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at  dhruti@geekyreality.com  or find her on twitter  @dhrutidd
Name:  Dhana Lakshmi Kodithi Role/Occupation:  Senior Lead Engineer strong text  India Interviewer is  Harsha Kulkarni , who has recently completed her Engineering in Information Science and has joined the professional sector. She is a NTSE scholar and also bagged the WeTech Qualcomm Scholarship. GGR had recently covered her interview https://discuss.geekyreality.com/d/778-ggr-stemstories-harsha-engineering-student-bengaluru-india 1) What motivated you to take up Engineering? Right from my childhood, I love maths and use to stood 1st in Maths in class room exams. This enthusiasm pulled my interests towards Engineering. I still remember until my engineering 2nd year, never got chance to work on computers and created my Gmail account only after that. After Maths my next interests was towards Electronics, so my dream of pursuing Electronics useful when I joined into Wireless testing engineer in India’s first Pre-Certification Wifi Lab. From then on, I’m very fortunate to work on the latest cutting-edge technologies from last 12 years. Year over year each experience has always given me a lot more to learn and there has always been a lot more to explore in Semi-Conductor industry. 2) Did you have a mentor in your early years? Did the mentor play a role in shaping your field of study? Yes, my first mentor would be my mom even though she is uneducated, she always has been back of me to support me in whatever things that I do in my life. With my parent’s hard work and constant encouragement in my ups and downs, I could able to pursue Engineering and am the first in my family ever to work as SW engineer in semiconductor industry. Since I joined into SW, there have been a lot of role models that I met in the work place and many people motivated me in different aspects of my life to mold myself for a successful career path. Able to overcome different hurdles in the professional and personal life with the inspiring people around and by listening their success stories. 3) What do you think could be the reason for gender disparity in STEM studies our country. What can we do to lessen the gap? There is a whole tangle of reasons why gender gap still exists example social barriers like cultural stereotypes and gender bias, but I strongly feel it’s improving these days though. Yet we still find a higher proportion of men in Stem-related careers than women. We can observe a decent percent of women at the entry level positions but that numbers are drastically diminishing when we go further up in the ladder with much bigger roles and responsibilities in the work place. There are various reasons for this one such being a woman to have more responsibilities to handle at home as well. Managing and do justice for both would be challenging for women at higher positions. Inculcating enthusiasm towards STEM at the young age, encouraging / giving liberty to choose their interests to study STEM subjects at University and enter STEM career paths is one way to break this barrier. Initiating more diversity inclusive programs for retaining women at higher positions would greatly help them to succeed in the Tech industry. 4) You are the Regional Ambassador for Technovation program. Could you explain more about this program and your role? Technovation ( http://technovationchallenge.org ) is a global competition where in girls from 10 to 16 years of age participate to create a mobile app which will solve a community problem. Girls will come out of the fear of coding, make them feel fun in coding and ignite entrepreneurial thoughts in the very young age of their career path. I was excited to be as a mentor when Qualcomm introduced this program as part of Diversity Initiatives. Mentored Bangalore girls to participate in this Global Competition for 3 years and then strongly felt that there is a real need to take this program to rural areas where you can create huge impact with this technological competition. Started reaching out to Govt and NGO schools around Bangalore region 2 years back to make the rural girls participate and empower them with this program. Last year I became Regional Ambassador for this program where in I will be reaching out to schools to make them join, conduct workshops, meet ups, practice sessions etc for the girls and finally make sure to submit their apps at the end of the competition. This has got me huge networking opportunities to meet the people around the world and broadened the scope of opportunities that are available for the women professionals. 5) Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I have always dreamed of empowering rural girls along with a successful career growth and started taking the steps to pursue my passion. Building the right community network, getting to know the right methods of implementation with strong leadership skills, I feel over a period the impact will be visible in their lives and would make me emerge as a passionate leader (Hopefully). 6) Where can we find out about your work and programs? You can find me at my FB and LinkedIn pages most actively. https://www.facebook.com/dhanalakshmi.kodithi?ref=bookmarks   https://www.linkedin.com/in/dhana-lakshmi-62169a20/   Also reachable @  dhana.kodithi@gmail.com 7) Could you tell more about your role at Qualcomm WeTech Global scholarship program? Qualcomm WeTech Global scholarship program is for undergraduate students to help and encourage them to build their career path. It provides $2500 scholarship and 6 months mentorship. I led this program for India region wherein I reach out to colleges, provide orientation about the program and make the students to apply for it. For the first time, I proposed to provide 20% scholars from Tier 2 regions creating awareness about opportunities available for the students and impacting the regions. Extremely honored to say that I was successful in doing the same. This has taught me leadership skills while executing the program, met lot of likeminded people where you can collaborate and build similar communities around you. I’m glad to have this kind of opportunities in my life which is making me to learn and providing pathway for my career growth. In Conclusion…. To summarize, I’m very thankful to pursue my interest and successful to enter STEM path. Now I got a new role as Chair Person for SWE (Society of Women Engineers) leading student’s related activities in collaboration with colleges. My staunch message to everyone is there are hell lot of opportunities for women only thing is just sit and pursue it with dedication.
You’ve probably heard about LinkedIn being a social network for professionals but, unlike Facebook, getting to grips with using it isn’t as easy as posting some holiday snaps for likes. With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to start, and many beginners get bogged down trying to primp their profile to perfection. George Khalife of Sampford Advisors recently posted his top tips for students looking to use LinkedIn to kick-start an early career, and the post generated quite a great conversation. In this article, we use  George's advice to give you go-getter geeky girls the rundown on how you can take your first steps towards snagging that all-important first job, all through LinkedIn. 1. Build your brand, not your CV Fleshing out your CV with qualifications and skills is important, but save your search for internships for another day. At this stage, you need to focus on promoting who you are and what you stand for, so when you do apply for jobs, the people in your circle know you’re dedicated to their cause. You’re not just another face in the crowd; make sure everyone sees this. 2. You have a voice - use it! The internet is full of amazing content, but we’re willing to bet you have something even better to offer. It might be tempting to share an inspiring video or blog post, but anything that’s already out there is old news. George says  it’s time to ‘get creative and talk about what’s on your mind’: whether you draw upon events in your life or bounce off news articles to give a fresh perspective, your voice has power. 3. Variety is the spice of life Everyone loved your long-form blog last week, but they might not love the next 20 as much if that’s all you ever post. Get out of your comfort zone and experiment with video, voice recordings, and shorter attention-grabbing posts. 4. Be true to yourself It might be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and use trending topics to inspire the content you create. After all, if everyone’s doing it, it must be important, right? What’s more important is that you stay authentic and stand by what you believe in, so don’t be afraid to showcase your love for STEM and reach for success! 5. Students welcome Networking can be daunting when you’re reaching out to people with way more experience than you. Take heed and listen to great advice  from folks like George - he wants you to know that ‘everyone has a story, everyone has an interesting past’, meaning that your words have as much value as anyone else’s. Getting yourself out there on LinkedIn can lead to some really great gigs, whether that’s a proper job or a few days shadowing someone impressed by your presence. So what are you waiting for?  Oh, and when you join make sure to connect with us on LinkedIn !   ----o---- Geeky Girl Reality shares career tips to help young women kickstart their careers in STEM and relevant fields. Make sure to  view the available 'gigs"  on our site: internships, scholarships, and other entry-level opportunities.
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