Spotlight on women in computing – Lisa Watson, CGI

 Nineteen year old Lisa Watson is a Modern Apprentice at CGI Scotland. In this post, she talks about what motivated her to pursue a career in the IT sector.

The senior years of high school are the most stressful, because your decision on the subjects you choose pretty much determines what you are going to do after you leave school. This is even more terrifying if you have no idea what you actually want to do.

I was always pushed to do childcare, which I would consider the most female generic career path, so that’s what I did. I gained as much experience as I could with working with children and applied to university and college to become a primary school teacher or an early years officer. However, during the summer, after I had completed my exams and trembling with the anticipation of my results, the more I thought about my future career in childcare the more uncomfortable I became with my decision.

That’s when I would say my new adventure began. I frantically searched the web in deep hope that a new career choice would magically appear on my screen. At secondary school I did choose IT subjects – Standard Grade Computing Studies and Higher Information Systems – but I can’t say I thought of going into a career in IT. I always enjoyed business management at school and I also enjoyed the IT subjects I had chosen in my senior school years which were two of the subjects I succeeded most in. I came across a website advertising apprenticeships being offered by an organisation called QA. After a meeting with QA employees at their training building, they put me forward for an interview with CGI. This was nerve-wracking but exciting news that gave me an opportunity to start my career with two things that I really enjoyed – business and IT.

IT careers seem to have an old-fashioned stigma attached to them – along the lines of a small cramped office with loads of people sitting with their eyes glued to their computer screens programming all day long – but that’s not the case. This is why I guess IT careers have a male stigma as more boys and men are into computers than women generally. You can go down many avenues with IT which I have discovered for myself over the last 10 months working at CGI. You don’t have to be a “computer whiz” to join the IT world and IT is very much linked with the business world. Of course you need an understanding of how IT works but within IT you can explore a multitude of areas like HR, Marketing, Sales and Finance. These require you to have a range of good communication and people skills, as well as IT skills.

IT companies like CGI have networking events for running projects to allow people to gain contacts and meet people who are working on the same project but in a different area and even on the other side of the country! Networking events have played a big part in the last ten months for me. I even had the chance organise one, which was a great experience. Not many people would think events management would be incorporated within an IT company.

At CGI I also do charity work which is a very rewarding responsibility. After raising money for our local foodbank in Edinburgh at one of our networking events we have kept an ongoing link with them. Every month I find out what the foodbank is in most need off and organise an office donation.

Overall, my experience in the IT industry at CGI has taken me away from the old-fashioned outlook and has shown me that IT companies are becoming more open to new technology and becoming more socially aware. Starting a career in IT was definitely the right decision for me and I would encourage anyone to take the decision I did, as it has opened many doors for my future career.


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