On the way back to the office from a meeting, a colleague and I were talking about a presentation we had given just a few weeks before at a high school close by. We had been invited by VHTO, an organization that aims to stimulate women’s implication in technical sectors, like ICT. We went over there to share with a bunch of 13 and 14 year old girls just what it is like to work in IT.
My colleague, who has a marketing background, asked me why I got into ICT in the first place. Good question… I had to think for a bit and it brought me back to the time when we got our first computer at home, an Intel 386. I was about 7 then and together with my very proud father, we unpacked this big bulky computer box with an even bigger monitor. After just a few days of ‘computing’ I was telling my dad how everything worked. He was very appreciative!
I remembered my adventures in DOS and the possibilities I saw already as a young girl, to help people through computers. It thought that later, when I was grown, I could work on making educational games on the computer so that people could learn to read and write and have fun doing it.
My favourite course in school was definitely the computer class. I would put as much effort in that class as my girlfriends would put in to avoid it altogether… ‘I’d take 10 literature classes before that boring boys class’ they would say.
Thinking back to my presentation for the VHTO now, it seems that unfortunately even after 15 years, the old clichés are still pretty much unchanged. These girls reacted in the same way my friends did all those year ago… I tried to explain to them that software is not just about programming, although that’s a big part of it, but that it’s also about people collaborating to find solutions to complex problems.
I tried to illustrate my point by using a practical exercise. I gave them the role of requirement engineer while I took the role of the client. Their assignment was the classic swing on a tree example. I explained what I wanted and in groups they went and put a lot of effort in making some really great sketches of what my tree swing could look like. Of course in the end, none of the sketches they gave me, the client, was exactly what I wanted.
Suddenly they were a little more interested. So we talked a little more about how a potential solution needs to be thoroughly discussed and elaborated between a client and a software manufacturer. We talked about what could go wrong and what that meant. I explained to them how at Avisi, we work in a transparent way and in close collaboration with our clients throughout the entire software lifecycle, because our goal is to make absolutely sure they end up with what they really want as much as what they really need.
I can’t say I convinced everyone of how cool ICT really is… but I really hope I showed them how software made by people collaborating closely together can really help solve real world problems. Hopefully in my enthusiasm, they caught a glimpse of just how wonderful the ICT profession really is.
When we finally arrived at the office I had to hurry up to catch the start of a kick-off meeting for a large project… So no computing for me today, but meeting the client with the whole team, there will surely be a lot of collaboration… I love it!