Two years ago, Sri Charvitha, a student of the B. V. Raju Institute of Technology, walked into the Microsoft campus in Hyderabad to join the Women in Software Engineering (WISE) mentoring programme. Dreaming of leveraging it to land a reputable job, she transformed herself from a rookie coder to an enlightened developer.
Microsoft launched WISE in 2014 to inspire women engineers to pursue rewarding careers in the field of software technology.
"We have worked with partners who interacted in local and regional colleges to help the volunteers offer the students a strong platform that nurtures their technical capabilities and enhances their soft skills to be job-ready at the end of the programme," Charumathy Srinivasan, Partner Group Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft India Development Center, told IANS.
The idea stemmed from a group of women engineers at Microsoft India who wanted to help women engineering students carve out successful careers in technology.
"When we began the WISE mentoring programme, our first batch had 10 students from the B. V. Raju Institute of Technology and each of them developed interesting applications. The students worked from the ideating phase to actually publishing the app," Srinivasan added.
The WISE programme comprises a mentoring ring of volunteers who aim to create an experiential learning for the students to hone their professional skills and cultivate a "can do" attitude.
Additionally, it also allows participants to enhance their learning in the area of their technological interest.
After the success of first batch, the second focused not only on helping students build apps but also introduced deep-learning modules with a focus on Big Data and Machine Learning.
The second batch students built nine applications across platforms, demonstrating their understanding of agile development of solutions.
"The feedback from the college faculties was also extremely favourable, with recognition of how the sessions had enhanced the students' academic and personal development. Earlier this month, we inducted 35 students for our third batch," Srinivasan noted.
Another participant in the programme, Lalitha Gade, has inspired her fellow students by building a school bus tracking application called Trackyaan as a part of the WISE programme. She credits her transformation into an industry-ready professional to the Microsoft mentors.
"The WISE Mentoring Ring has been an ideal platform to help us transform into professionals by enhancing our skills and confidence. The mentoring sessions helped us learn the latest technologies from the experts and gave us an opportunity to build Trackyaan and publish it. Our mentors transmuted us into industry-ready professionals," Gade told IANS.
"WISE Mentoring Ring helped me gain invaluable knowledge in both technical and soft skills. The sessions made us competent to develop and publish an app, WalletLog, on Google Play Store. During the sessions, I have learnt how to communicate effectively, collaborate with teams and carry myself with poise even in tough situations," Sravya Kanagarla, another student, said.
"While we run an industry collaboration programme with Talent Sprint for Women in Software Engineering, the perspective of applying their learning in a large organisation environment is daunting and challenging to a student," Ravichandran Rajagopal, Vice Chair, Sri Vishnu Educational Society, one of the institutional partners, told IANS.
"The fact that women mentors from Microsoft came together and volunteered to mentor girl students to adapt their career and create a product company mindset was unique and appealing," Rajagopal added.
(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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