NYC Engineering: Making Strides to Encourage More Women in Tech
February 7, 2018
Co-authors: Stephanie Killian and Nikolai Avteniev
LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity. Many of us across the company, beyond our day-to-day jobs, work with groups that share similar vision but focus on creating opportunity for specific groups of people. One of the areas that is very important to LinkedIn as a company and to me as a female engineer is getting more women into technical roles. When we learned about the chance to work with WiTNY and Cornell Tech to participate in an NYC-based program geared toward placing female students from CUNY into local technical internships, we knew we had to participate.
WiTNY’s goal is simple: to get more women into technical roles in NYC. In early 2017, they piloted their “Winternship” program and placed a handful of CUNY undergraduate students to work on a project at Verizon’s offices in New York City during the students’ three-week winter break.
The pilot program proved to be a success, and in 2018, they vastly expanded. They approached this year with the goal of getting over two hundred CUNY undergraduates into more than forty companies in NYC. LinkedIn was one of the lucky companies to participate in this important program.
From January 8-26, we had three “Winterns” join our NYC engineering team. I’m happy to report that the interns integrated seamlessly with our full-time engineers and were eager to begin learning! Unlike our summer internships, where interns are spread across a number of different teams within our engineering organization, the three January Winternship interns were all placed together on the Video team. The goal was to build a product that would actually be used on LinkedIn’s platform. No matter the time of year, we strive to have all LinkedIn interns work on real engineering projects, so they are fully immersed in the team and get a better understanding of what the culture of LinkedIn engineering is really like.
“Winterns” with LinkedIn’s NYC Engineering department as a part of the WiTNY Winternship program
The Winterns worked on a wide range of programming and project-specific tasks. In addition to training in agile development and learning about the developer framework, they participated in panels and group meals to encourage discussion on getting more women in tech. It was great hearing my female colleagues share their stories about how and why they got into the field, as well as seeing the support of our male colleagues.
The three weeks went by in a flash, but it was an extremely rewarding experience. We found that the unique setup of the program––having the Winterns work together on the same project for a single team––was very successful, as the group members were able to relate to shared experiences, work together closely to develop personal relationships, and grow their knowledge. Faced with unfamiliar tooling and new processes, the Winterns showed resilience and enthusiasm while being able to stay focused and work past these hurdles. Their performance exceeded everyone’s expectations.
It was great to hear from the Winterns that they enjoyed their experiences and that the knowledge gained from the program helped increase their overall confidence. One of our interns shared, “This internship has increased my confidence within the field of tech. Refreshed and ready to take on the next school semester, I know for sure that I've made the right career choice.” Along the same vein, another intern said, “This internship will be very useful in my future schooling because it taught me to never give up and never become discouraged when things start to get hard. This internship will help in future internships as I have been able to gain confidence about my programming ability, teamwork skills and learning capability.”
We look forward to participating in this program in the future and are excited to see it grow. If you want to learn more about the Winternship from one of our intern’s perspectives, we encourage you to take a look at Claudia Bandali’s great recap of her experience.