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Dubai: It isn’t a new phenomenon having women in the tech industry. Women have been working in tech since at least 1850s. From Ana Roqué de Duprey to Lillian Moller Gilbreth, women have been embedded in the industry for decades. Yet they still face certain difficulties and stigma when forging their path in tech. Gulf News speaks to Adila Mohamed, a 20-year old senior at the American University of Sharjah about her experience doing a summer internship at a leading cloud provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS). “I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Management Information System (MIS) and minoring in Data Science,” she said.

Adila Mohamed

Here are the things Adila learned along the way

I love working with startups

I support the Amazon Web Services (AWS) startup team, which works with startups in the Middle East. I’m helping the team to better understand our customers and their business challenges, to identify where we can help them most effectively. 

It’s ok to change your mind... I changed my major halfway through

When I joined the American University of Sharjah, my initial major was Management. I had to take courses in several other disciplines including, economics, finance and Management Information Systems (MIS). The more I studied, the more interested I became in MIT, and how businesses use technology to improve their operations and gain an advantage in the marketplace. I realized this was where my true interests lay, so I changed my major to MIS. For me, it’s the perfect combination of business and IT. After joining AWS, I realized the potential of cloud computing and how it is transforming industries. There’s so much to learn about in this sector, I know for sure that I wanted to pursue a career in this area.

You have to actively look for your opportunities

After my semester ended in May, I began actively searching for summer internship opportunities. During this process, an Amazon Student Programs recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn about internship opportunities at Amazon and encouraged me to apply. Two weeks after applying, I received an email invite for an initial phone interview along with resources that would help me prepare for the interview.

A week after the first phone interview, I found out I’d made it to the next stage with two more phone interviews. Two weeks after that, I was informed that I had managed to impress all my interviewers and secured the internship position.

Acing your interview means knowing everything about the company

Throughout the job application process, I made sure I kept up to date with the latest news and announcements from AWS. This not only helped me understand the services and value proposition the company offers to customers, but it also helped me to clearly articulate my motivation for joining the team and why I would be a good fit for the position. I also made sure I was familiar with the company’s values and 14 Leadership Principles. In other words, I put myself in the shoes of an ‘Amazonian’ before I became one myself.

Networking is important, even if you are a student

Networking was initially important to let professionals know that I was actively seeking roles and opportunities within this field. As a primary step, it is vital to develop connections with people who might be able to get you a lead into the role that you are looking for. However, to be successful in the interview process, it is essential that applicants showcase their unique strengths and passion for the role

I have to constantly step out of my comfort zone at work

I am a strong believer in Kaizen, which is a Japanese term for continuous improvement. I actively take up challenges that come my way with a determination to give my best and this has been my mantra from my first day at AWS. More specifically, my role enables me to enhance my time management and interpersonal skills, which are often viewed as challenges for students. Because this is my first professional work experience and my first internship, I had to consciously step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself. With the constant training and support from AWS, I believe I will emerge out of this role as someone who goes an extra mile to not only meet but exceed expectations.

Cloud technology is going to change how people will do business

The cloud technology skills that I am learning at AWS are vital in today’s economy and can fuel growth in all industries and sectors. Cloud tech has changed the way companies operate and support customers, and there is still so much more room for growth. Cloud knowledge is now required for not just IT professionals, but for everyone. I know the skills I’ve acquired through my role at Amazon can be applied in all my future endeavours.

Women do not need to act like a man to be successful in tech

I believe you will not get ahead or achieve anything by imitating anyone, regardless of gender. You need to be your authentic self and recognize your unique skills. At my internship, I was encouraged to focus on developing my individual ‘superpowers’. You are recognized and evaluated solely on your talent, drive and capabilities, and this gives you the freedom to be yourself.

Let your internship teach you job skills and life skills

There are several training and certification opportunities that are given to AWS interns, which I have taken advantage of so far. Currently, I am studying for the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam, and I hope to earn the certification before the end of my internship. I have also made it my mission to connect and network with as many AWS employees as possible, to learn about their experience.

Knowing how my internship will affect the organization as a whole has helped me understand the importance of my role. Learning how to become a team player and pitching in my thoughts and ideas has enhanced my confidence and communication skills. The internship has not only helped the development of my technical skills but also my soft skills, which are: Work hard. Have Fun. Make history.

To all student interns: Build meaningful connections

To my fellow students, I would advise to always look out for internship opportunities during your time at university, it can help you discover where your true passion lies. Also, build meaningful connections, network with professionals in your field of interest, and always be up to date when it comes to news, innovations and announcements. In other words, become the master of your chosen field of study!