As we reach our second last day of the camp, I can sense the sadness that we have to break up (at least in person) this wonderful experience. We will make all the effort to ensure this continues through out the year until next camp, however, this moment is drawing to a close.
First up, the Young Women Leaders in AI program was fortunate enough to be invited to be interviewed on ABC Gold Coast breakfast radio (skip to 1:45:20 to hear us). Myself and Serena Mou were interviewed by the incredible Julie Clift, who works so fast and professionally and can be so personal-able in such a short time. We talked about the camp that is on this week, leaving the listener to visit womeninai.com.au for more info. It must have been a day for it, as Karolyn Gainfort another influencer and mentor in our program was also interviewed by Bloomberg representing KJR and the topic of what needs to be done to persuade more women to consider careers in AI, including the need for mentoring from a young age.
This morning we heard from Rohan Toll who discussed the origins of the program and how AIkademi is helping young girls pave their own future, with offerings of internships, scholarships and by organising the Young Women Leaders in AI program. Brent Richards then started the discussion around careers in AI, where potential opportunities can come from.
In relation to careers:
We heard from Alex Hall, Senior Consultant at Deloitte who shared insights about their graduate program and how successful this program was for him. In terms of desirable traits and skills to work on, Alex recommends that the cohort focuses on their own ability to work in a team, their adaptability (this is a big one) and their ability to work with ambiguity.
We heard from Karolyn Gainfort from KJR and the role KJR plays with getting tech projects safely into production. Her superpower is making order out of chaos and guiding people to where they need to go. KJR loves taking graduates and is especially conscious of the diversity and inclusion of women. They have over 120 employees and 42% of them are women.
Our mentors also shared their experience and advice with us. Some powerful messages I found interesting were:
• There are organisations out there that offer flexibility, have a high women ratio (Dimension Data are one of them) and to try and seek our organisations who are supportive of females.
• Regardless of where you go, you will find your community
• There are employers that delve deeper than just technical skills. There is a focus on creativity and those that feel confident enough to learn, work in a team and can learn from their mistakes
• Build the environment you want to work in and be proactive in your own inclusion (when was the last time you organised lunch with your co-workers just to socialise)
• Understanding the different dynamics between a start-up and a larger organisation may help you decide which may be best for you.
• Small start-ups can be more flexible and not have some of the more painful policy/ bureaucracies. They often feel like a close little family
• Starting your own business allows you to find and work with like-minded people. When starting your own business, there is no waste of time, as everything you do during this process with the benefit you, whether you’re developing professional or personal skills
• After taking the leap of starting up your own business, you will feel empowered and feel that you can jump into anything because you have developed those skills
• Starting a business is great if you don’t quite know where you fit in, as this allows you to carve your own path
• You don’t have to worry about picking 1 thing to specialise in, you will jump around a lot throughout your career
• Even if you pick something at university non-main stream, don’t be afraid to take that risk, it might end up being a tremendous opportunity
• You will often end up like the 5 people you pick to work with
• When you interview, tell them something solid that you did and why it worked, if it failed, then you state the 5 reasons of what you would do differently
• Invest in yourself! You have come to the program this week because you are already investing in yourselves
In terms of studying a PhD: (but applicable to other areas of learning as well)
• Seek mentors that inspire you personally, not just professionally
• Look for leaders/PhD-supervisors that are humble
• Working towards a PhD in AI, means you are on the front line of this tech
• Seek a supervisor (can be a mentor) that lets you find your own ideas and then guides you
• Support networks are important (Good news! You are in one by being part of the Young Women Leaders in AI)
• Don’t lose track of the work-life balance
• You do a PhD because you are interested in the research, it’s not about focusing on the result
• Doing a PhD, you are focusing more on what you learning and gives you a sense of purpose
• Good PhD pursuits aren’t just pure research-orientated but instead, it’s about how can I apply this to communities and be active in the field
• You have to think about the journey and skills you pick up on your way, that will set you up with life long skills (Can be applied to any learning)
• Find a supervisor that has time for you and one that is not only good at what they do but also a good teacher (same can be for a mentor that you choose)
• Also seek learning help from post-doctorates
• You pursue your PhD because it is absolutely something you love and just need to know more
• Doing a PhD, you will give you greater academic rigour and allow you to then teach yourself new content. This ability allows you to come to any project, which you may have no context/background in and give you the ability to figure it out
• Throw yourself into different/unexpected things, this gives you different insights and perspectives, which allows you to bring something different to the table. Especially useful if you are feeling familiar in your surroundings, it is great to invest in a different kind of way
• Self-care! you are worth more than your job.
• Every single day the sun will come up
• Sometimes you can feel that you have taken 3 steps forward in your career and if you need to, it’s ok to take a step back. Our path isn’t always linear
• If you get to the point that every single day of work ‘sucks’ and dread going in, then it’s time to look for other opportunities.
• You have worth!
We watched a powerful short (Purl) that really sets the message this whole camp is trying to send, also it is surprisingly relate-able to what it can be like walking into a new place of work, particularly if you don’t fit the norm which sadly is common for women and STEM.
We heard from Julienne Senyard at Griffith University about pitching and how to tell a compelling story. The session was captivating and Julienne demonstrated her advice of ‘stand tall’ and ‘speak loudly’. With her strong stage presence coupled with a powerful gaze, she ensured her presentation had your full attention. This is great for the ladies to see firsthand, a sample of what-to-do, how to use the space, hold the audience’s connection and deliver a pitch with confidence and purpose. I get the message from Julienne that it is ok to command the attention of your audience and hold them accountable to your efforts.
One of the groups approached me today with the most excitement, pride and ‘look what we accomplished’ that I have seen in any group of people. I felt the second-hand excitement and got swept up with them in the celebration. They had managed to achieve a 0.95 accuracy rate of their image recognition solution correctly identifying signs of endometriosis.
Our school-aged girls were interviewed as part of our video package about the program. I got the opportunity to lead these girls in a close brainstorming session for questions and ideas on what to say in the interview. I was able to also mentor/guide them while we were conducting the interviews and help them understand and formulate their responses. This was one of my favourite experiences of the camp so far. I could see the 14/16-year-old me, sitting there in their shoes eager to connect. I just wanted to tell them every little tip, trick advice I could but I also got to practice my mentor abilities (which is something I am working on). A big part of this was encouraging them to explore their own ideas, which involves me asking questions then listening without interrupting. If you know me, this is one of my worst habits that come out when I am particularly excited. Each of these girls are just remarkable, and I am so proud and humbled that they have chosen to be part of our cohort. For the first time in my life, I have been able to really provide something that I experienced and completely cherished as a young girl but wish I got more of. I hope that they understand how much their interest and attention means to me and how valuable their contribution to our camp is.
This year I was honoured to be able to feature in the video package about the program and present myself officially as the Community Manager. I remember seeing them record the video package last year and was just dying to be involved. After only a year since the last program, my confidence has grown and I felt completely at ease during this entire process.
We also featured a few other girls, and I was lucky enough to act as the interviewer. I know what it is like to be nervous and psych yourself out. From this side of the process, my goal was to make sure the girls felt relaxed, supported and that they are in a space with a friend. It was great to ask the girls the questions and elicit these powerful messages from them. I am not going to lie, I did well up a little bit at some of the responses and truly felt that these girls feel just as strongly about the program as I do and I can see them acting in my role, support the next generation of women through the ranks.
Today was also my Birthday and I feel as though I have spent it among friends. I didn’t really draw attention to it and wasn’t really expecting anything. However, I got a shock of my life when Karolyn walked out with a huge cake with a fireball of candles on top. This is the first time a room full of women have sung me happy birthday (I think most people in my life) and it was the most harmonious thing I have ever heard. It took everything I had to fight back the tears of joy, and keep my composure. Thank you to everyone for making today so so special, it really meant a lot.
The night finished off with some well earned Guzman Y Gomez and we were all able to socialize in a relaxed informal setting and just talk about our lives and interests. That wraps the second last day and it has all gone so fast.