ShadowTech Day: A day in the world of an IT professional

ShadowTech Day in Wellington was a big event on 21 May 2018. Over 200 young women signed up and congregated at Te Auaha in the morning for a welcome session before being greeted by their mentors for the day. Three of our staff members participated in this programme, and others were involved as well as part of the activities.

Jess Freeman, Catalyst's HR Co-Ordinator, brought ShadowTech Day to Catalyst. She did so to give Catalyst employees the opportunity to get involved and give back to the wider community – something that gets raised a lot as a core value at Catalyst.

It’s not just the right thing to do for these students, it’s also beneficial for our employees to be involved in events like this. It helps them grow and develop both personally and professionally to be put in a mentor type role. For the girls in a mentee position, the warm welcome and support they get from businesses like Catalyst is crucial to enable them to truly have an open outlook on what they want to do in the future.

Jess says, “I like to think that my daughter will have many opportunities available to her to be able to enter any industry she wants. We need corporate support for these sorts of initiatives to ensure they thrive.”

We hosted a student each from Paraparaumu College, Samuel Marsden, and St Catherine's College. After a short introduction and figuring out who goes with whom, the three young women were immersed in activities that make up our day at Catalyst. They got an insight into our team work, client interactions, and the varied roles that can be found at an IT company.

The mentors and two of the students at ShadowTech Day at Catalyst

Kristina Hoeppner, the project lead for the open source project Mahara guided one student through fixing a bug and pushed it to the upstream project along with an automation test, for which she worked on with Rebecca Blundell. That fix will be available to community members around the world.  Another student learned about the responsibilities of a project manager and UX consultant, also meeting a client. The third student was paired with Catherine Sanson, one of our Catalyst Cloud engineers, and was introduced to the vast area of programming.

Gretta Seebeck, Senior UX Consultant, says, “I was so impressed by the enthusiasm, smarts, and openness of the young women we were lucky enough to mentor. Participating has been so worthwhile as somewhat seasoned technologists. It makes you feel very positive about the future of women in tech.”

Catalyst regularly provides opportunities for young people to explore and participate in tech. Our three most frequent activities are the annual Open Source Academy during the summer holidays, the annual Arduino Academy in July, and summer internships. We are proud that young women often make up more than half of the participants in these activities.