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Building a brand

Things I'd never have expected to blog about. Branding.

Obviously this site exists for a reason. I keep my LinkedIn up to date, I pursue the occasional certification; I'm not completely ignorant to the fact that my career is defined by no one but me.

But as far as really taking time to identify who I am as a professional, who I want to be, sharing my experience and knowledge goes - I've been slacking. Look to my dated blog posts as evidence. I hold myself fully accountable.

So why am I in a confessional booth of a blog post today? Well, one of my presales internal calls this week delved into a new program Dell EMC is offering to engage, train and hire recent college graduates. I've always been interested in volunteering free cycles to help with recruitment; I truly love my job, my team and my environment and it would be awesome to bring in more Tigers. Right around the time I initially took action to offer help with college recruiting, the merger between legacy EMC and legacy Dell was announced and my communications channel died in the midst of merger anxieties. Now that my company is securely through the hardest part of the merger, there's a stronger effort surfacing to recruit talent inclusive of this university hires program.

In thinking about the recruitment process and career fair cycle at RIT, I'm reminded of the Women in Computing group I was part of during my undergrad. WiC @ RIT is more than a social club. WiC is a way for female students to receive knowledge and mentorship from faculty and staff. The group offers multiple girls the chance to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing each year and gain perspective of the power of women in the workforce. They promote philanthropy by doing outreach to local K-12 schools, getting young girls interested in STEM and computing concepts through games, puzzles and learning tools.

For me specifically, WiC was the primary reason I didn't drop out year 1 at RIT, when I was one of one or two girls in a classroom of 25-30 students. I'm going to be very blunt and say that yes, the boys club existed at the collegiate level. In introductory level classes, I was largely ignored unless a team project required interaction. In some cases, I was talked down to or treated like I couldn't possibly understand the complexities of networking, security and systems administration. In my senior level classes, I had dear friends of mine confide that they had previously held stereotypical ideas about the kind of person I was, and the standard of work I'd be able to do. However, they assured me that line of thinking seemed ridiculous to them after getting to know me - I was smart and capable and not some weird enigma of a creature. Short story long, WiC was an escape from all those awful stereotypes. I gained an incredible amount of perspective and confidence from my female peers and mentors. I am and have always been incredibly humbled and grateful by the mentorship and support I received from the girls in the group, the faculty, and the experiences they afforded me.

And now in my adult life, I have the opportunity to give something back to them. Not just RIT students - to all girls pursuing careers in technology. I want to be able to share the message that the workplace is not as daunting and rocky as college. That there will be many more people there to lift you up and empower you throughout your career. I want to provide mentorship and references for talented women, or even for those who just don't realize their full talent and potential yet.

The point is - how can I educate other women if I'm not sharing my knowledge? How can I be a voice of hope and encouragement if I'm not speaking? I always cringed at the thought of "branding myself" because I'm not a technology expert, or a C suite with incredibly powerful success stories. But I don't have to be. I am a woman, I am a technologist, and I have this passion ignited in my soul that I can and should turn into a beacon for others.

Today I take the first steps. I'm expanding and enhancing my social media presence. I'm going to blog more here - about technology, about women's issues, about random things in our ever technologically advancing world that make me tick (or tick me off). It's time for this young professional to become the seasoned mentor.

-Lauren

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©2017 by Lauren Melenric.