Wow, That Was a Fun Day

 

Thirty-five high-school students from the Bethel School District spent the day at Alliance for an Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution (IGNITE) field trip last week. Our message was simple: there are a lot of interesting and rewarding jobs in the tech field that you can turn into a well-paying career. And you don’t have to be a “techie” to work in the industry!

Today there is a huge gender gap in the technology field – but not at Alliance. About half of our staff are women – well above the national average of 26%.

I found out about IGNITE last year when my niece, who is a high-school teacher, suggested I contact them as a way to share my experiences and knowledge with young women that I’d gained from more than 30 years at Alliance. After taking part in a panel discussion at a local high school, we decided to host a field trip to share the experience with my co-workers.

 

What Happened

 

We hit it out of the park! We kept the interest of 35 young women and their teachers for four hours! Here are some of my favorite parts:

  • 17 people at Alliance participated from a variety of work teams.
  • Darcy Schab, our Director of Application Services, brought the Software Development Life Cycle to life by drawing the parallel of going to a restaurant for dinner. (I never thought that asking for “tomatoes on the side” was analogous to a requirements statement!)
  • The girls attended four breakout sessions and had ample time to learn about eight distinct job roles and ask questions of women of different ages. The setting was informal and Alliance volunteers showed examples of their work.
  • We finished off 15 large pizzas!
  • We asked the students to tell us what job sounded the most interesting. They reached a quick consensus: Tester! It was relatable for them since they all use tech and they like to break things. Project Management was a close second since many girls said they liked to boss people around.

What Most Impressed Me

 

I loved how the outcome of the day far exceeded my original idea. I started with an agenda that was based on the IGNITE guidelines. During the pre-meeting, we added and refined the outline. Holli Coleman planned and mastered the logistics and everyone “crushed” the breakout sessions. The list goes on and on.

Ultimately, I knew the event was a success when Bethel High School’s career specialist emailed me later in the day: “Thank you so much for a wonderful day. The entire staff did an amazing job! The girls are discussing career changes!”

The event demonstrated the Alliance philosophy of collaboration. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

 

About the Author

Lisa Gifford profile photo

Lisa Gifford

Growing up Lisa never planned to have a technology career, but that changed in her 20s when she began working at Alliance Enterprises. She’s worked in a wide range of roles, including marketing assistant, trainer, analyst, tester, project manager, resource manager and, finally, business owner!

Lisa has had a profound impact on developing Alliance into a high-growth technology company that was named to the Inc. 5000 in 2016. Lisa led the launch and expansion of the company’s flagship software, Aware, currently used by state agencies and more than 12,000 rehabilitation service providers across the nation.

In 2016, Lisa was named to the Business Examiner’s Women of Influence list.

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