Tech Industry Gold placement student works on DigiGirlz initiative

 

During lockdown 2.0, we caught up with Lydia Carroll, a second-year student at Loughborough University, who is studying for a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree (BSc ITMB). Lydia is currently on placement at Microsoft. 

How did you secure your placement? What was the process?

Microsoft advertises roles in job pools to which I applied for customer-facing technology. The application process involved an online application including a cover letter and CV. Following this, I was invited to an online interview and success in this stage led to an onsite assessment day involving two interviews, two presentations, and a group work project.

I was then given a choice of two roles: a technology specialist or an adoption and change management consultant. I discussed my role choice with members of both practices post-assessment centre and ultimately chose the role of an ACM consultant as that was my preference for my placement year.

What is your role at Microsoft?

My core role at Microsoft is an ACM consultant. I sit within the Global Adoption and Change Management Practice, where we support our customers throughout their change journey when adopting Microsoft technologies. My other roles include being the DigiGirlz Communications manager, the FY21 Intern Committee Chairwoman and the FY21 ACM Intern Representative.

Can you describe a typical day?

Microsoft interns split their time 70% core role work, 20% stretch project work and 10% learning. This means no two days are ever the same! In terms of my core role as a consultant intern, I work on customer engagement creating power apps, power Bi dashboards and documents that support the change organisations face when introducing our technologies.

My DigiGirlz stretch project role also varies from managing communications and marketing, presenting to schools and employees on how they can get involved in our sessions and also running STEM sessions such as MakeCode arcade.

Microsoft offers a range of learning from courses to certifications. My learning time has been spent working towards my power platforms and M365 fundamentals exams, whilst also completing my ProSci change practitioner certification. Alongside this, I have introduced initiatives to the Global Practice and been involved as a panellist for prospective interns.

How are you managing during the second lockdown and can you give any tips to your fellow students who are on placements?

It’s important in times of adversity and challenges to look after your mental health, and a key factor is feeling connected to others. I have completed my internship to date from home, but the amount of support provided by my managers and colleagues at Microsoft has been truly amazing. Furthermore, social activities with my core role team, DigiGirlz team, and the intern cohort have helped me feel connected even during these uncertain times.

Personally, I have tried to focus on the positives of my current working environment, lockdown as a whole and working virtually as a way of allowing me to expand my connections outside the UK/TVP Office. As we are all working virtually it gives us the opportunity to work not only with team members based in our location but also colleagues from around the world. As a result, this has allowed me to work on internal initiatives and customer projects with team members based in EMEA, Asia and America.

My advice to fellow placement students is to break up your workday with a walk, schedule some personal catch-up calls with other interns and most importantly take time to relax at the end of your working day.

We noted that you posted a blog on your LinkedIn profile about DigiGirlz, tell us more.

The DigiGirlz initiative is a Microsoft digital skills and technology education program, providing primary and high school youth who identify as girls, transgender, or non-binary, opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. While we aim to inspire and provoke young girls into thinking about STEM, DigiGirlz also helps them find or fuel their passion for technology.

The DigiGirlz UK subsidiary is the only DigiGirlz program in the world led by interns. So, our team work hard to deliver all DigiGirlz events that are running in the UK.

Currently, we are seeing the number of students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics studies (STEM) decline throughout previous years, despite the government’s attempt to boost interest among young students. A lack of passion and enthusiasm are the number one factors guiding young students’ career choices and aspirations. I wanted to show girls how inspiring the field of technology is and the opportunities it can bring about.

I joined the DigiGirlz team with an aim to help inspire and provide opportunities to girls like myself who have an interest in the technology realm. Witnessing first-hand the lack of opportunities for girls in STEM, I’m passionate about helping run and deliver DigiGirlz initiatives to reach as many young girls as possible to develop their eagerness for STEM subjects.

How did you get involved?

Whilst on placement at Microsoft every intern spends 20% of their time working on a stretch project. With multiple amazing projects to get involved in ranging from the Mixed Reality team to the Modern Work Champions, it is difficult to pick the project you would like to be involved with. Microsoft allows you to pick your first and second choice of project.

I chose DigiGirlz as my first choice stretch project, as I saw the high level of importance in the program and felt it is where I could make the biggest difference and impact. The selection process included submitting your CV, answering specific DigiGirlz related questions and an interview.

I am grateful to have been offered the role of the Marketing Communications Manager as I know I will be given the opportunity to work with an amazing team to deliver a life-changing program. The role has allowed me to get involved in new areas of work involving communications and marketing, whilst maintaining my involvement in the technology realm.

I have had the opportunity to broaden my skills by managing all communications on behalf of DigiGirlz UK. For example, both paid and unpaid social media posts, creating and managing the EduConnect 101 team’s first-ever LinkedIn page, producing both internal and external newsletters, working with the US whilst following strict branding guidelines and creating the FY21 strategy/communications plans.

What else can you tell us about the programme?

This year I am excited to announce our team have created a brand new series of afterschool clubs, ran by the Microsoft Experience Centre. These sessions run bi-weekly from 5-6:30 pm. These free, open-enrolment sessions are focused, but not refined to, girls aged 8-14.

Alongside this, we also run a variety of amazing events including DigiGirlz days, camps and hackathons. These again are all focused on girls aged 8-14 years and can be run by either our core DigiGirlz team or by the Microsoft experience centre. These events focus on live-demos, general skill development sessions, and hands-on technology/STEM workshops.

How can schools and youth clubs get involved?

Our events are based on school enrolment so we kindly ask schools/youth clubs that are interested in joining us for our upcoming events to email ukdg@microsoft.com to register their interest, to which all links and documents will be provided upon registration. Alternatively, individuals wishing to get involved in our amazing program can join us for our series of after school clubs (Open-enrolment) by registering via the following link: aka.ms/digigirlzldn

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try! I would advise anyone considering a placement to go for it! It is a big commitment and can seem very daunting, but it is such a valuable experience and will allow you to explore your interests. As an Intern, I’ve been given endless opportunities to learn new skills and build my network whilst being fully supported by the Microsoft community. Not only have I gained knowledge and experience in my field of study, but I have also learned so many valuable skills that I will carry forward in my personal life and professional career.

Will you be posting more updates about the project?

Yes!! I will be posting on my LinkedIn throughout the year about our upcoming DigiGirlz events. If you would like to find out more information about DigiGirlz, please email: ukdg@microsoft.com or for any questions regarding my placement year email: Lydcarroll@icloud.com

We look forward to reading more about DigiGirlz and well done to Lydia for getting involved in a great initiative.