101 Team Spotlight: Aspire

What is a 101 team?
As interns at Microsoft, we work with other interns, as part of our 101 teams. They allow us to explore areas of the business outside of our job roles, as well as having different responsibilities from our job. So, if you want to develop your management skills, you could choose to lead the team or lead an event and gain management experience. There is a range of 101 teams from raising awareness of careers in tech to school children to promoting Microsoft’s latest products internally to Microsoft employees.

What is Aspire and why did I choose to join the team?
As part of Aspire, we organise events to inspire young women to pursue a range of careers within the technology industry. I chose Aspire, as I want young women to believe they can have a career in the technology industry. Microsoft strongly promote diversity and inclusion and of course welcome women, so female students need to know that there is a future for them in the tech industry, it’s not all about the ‘Steve’s’!

Warwick Sprint Event
The Sprint programme aims to develop female students to their full potential. Belonging to the programme involves attending four one-day workshops, learning tools and the opportunity to meet inspiring role models and engage with corporate sponsors. Microsoft sponsored the Sprint Event at Warwick University in November, which gave me the opportunity to attend the event, representing Microsoft.
As a placement student, returning to university in September, I can say that I found the day beneficial. The activities throughout the day are all designed to help boost confidence and aid development to full potential.
At a time where stats are showing that women graduates are earning less than men, it is great to see programmes like this, which have been developed to help to put an end to the gender pay gap and inequality.

‘Routes into Careers’ Event
Microsoft Aspire held a ‘Routes into Careers’ event as part of our ‘Girls into Careers’ program. Female students were invited to the session, which was held at Microsoft UK HQ in Reading. The event aimed to help students build their profile, so the day consisted of a CV workshop, where hiring managers joined us to review the student’s CVs and give them feedback- valuable to do now than when a job is at stake! As well as building their online profile, with a LinkedIn workshop on the ‘Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn’.
In addition to the workshops, the young women received insights from across the business about what it’s like to be an intern and graduate as part of Microsoft early in career programs. To provide inspiration to the students, female guest speakers spoke about their career journeys and reminded students that it’s okay not to have a plan.

Feedback from the attendees was amazing; 69% of the young women who attended would now consider a career in technology.
With comments, such as "I learned a lot and look forward to the next one" and "Professional's experiences were really inspiring and I feel more confident about my job seeking period. Thank you for organizing such an event!”, making all of the hard work put in by the team so worth it!

‘Interview and Presentation Skills’ Event
Our second event was focused on developing interview and presentation skills; these skills are essential for most application processes, so we wanted to help build female undergraduate students confidence, without the stress of a real job interview.
The event included fun ice breakers, opportunities for networking, tips for presenting yourself in a video interview and a creative CV session, which covered the structure and do’s and don’ts of CV writing.
I presented the ‘speed interviews’ session. The aim of the session was for attendees to feel confident talking about themselves, so the students paired up and there were a range of questions to discuss from skills and work experience to their hobbies.

We believe the event went really well; during the day, there was such a buzz in the room and a positive response to all the sessions. As a team, we were thrilled to see some familiar faces from our first event and feedback from the attendees was overwhelming- 95% of girls who attended our event, said they were now more confident with industry interviews following our Aspire event.

We are currently planning our next event, so look out for registration on the Debut app or through your university’s career service.

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