By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.
This week's "Ask the Mompreneur" features an interview with Aisha Davis, a graduate of Microsoft's DigiGirlz program and Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. She currently works at Microsoft as a technical account manager in Charlotte. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
QUESTION: How did you and your mom first learn about Microsoft's DigiGirlz program?
ANSWER: People say "word of mouth" is the strongest marketing tool, and for me this was true. My aunt received an email about the DigiGirlz event first. She then told my mom all about it with me in mind, and my mom encouraged me to go.
Q: What convinced you to sign up for the program?
A: When I first heard about DigiGirlz, I had no interest in taking part. My interest was not in technology, nor did I think a female could even belong in the IT field. My mom thought otherwise. She urged me to apply, which triggered me to start looking deeper and doing research into Microsoft and the types of software and devices they had at the time.
Q: How did the program influence your choice of college major and career?
A: As mentioned, I initially had no intention of going into technology for my career. It was the DigiGirlz program that changed the course of my life. For the first time, I found something that I felt I was naturally good at other than sports. I felt smart.
In the DigiGirlz program, I met so many awesome women, and I won an award as the project manager of my team. My DigiGirlz mentor stayed in contact with me long after the program was finished. All of these things influenced my college major and ultimately my dream to work at Microsoft.
Q: Based on your personal experiences, what's the most important factor in guiding more female students towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, careers?
A: I believe it will take more women in STEM careers to continually reach out to young girls to let them know that not only do these opportunities exist, but there are a number of women in leadership positions. Those women were once girls like them and understand the adversities they've faced. The opportunities for careers in STEM for women are endless. I'm proud to say my experience began with two of the strongest women in my life guiding me towards DigiGirlz.
Q: Now that you've graduated and started working, how are you paying it forward?
A: I pay it forward daily by bringing my "A" game to work and by showing Microsoft that investing in me was well worth it. I volunteer at various schools and give presentations. Currently, I am teaching a class for Citizen Schools after work where I am able to share my experiences and teach debate to students in underrepresented areas.
Also, I have the honor of being the guest speaker at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Julia Robinson Mathematics and Computing Festival on March 29, where I will be speaking to over 200 young girls whose shoes I once walked in. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com.