Sunday, 6 November 2016

My Grace Hopper Experience

Recently my conversations have been going somewhat like this:

"Hey, how you doing, haven't seen you in a while…" 
"Yeah I know I went to America"
"OMG really why?"

Well those of you who read one of my previous posts, follow me on other social media, or who know me personally know why, but for those who don't I had an amazing opportunity to attend this year's Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing in Houston Texas.






After explaining that I normally get a:

“Ahhh really, what did you do?” 

You do a lot. I know I was tired throughout the whole trip lol. One because I took ages to adjust to the different time zone*, and two because there's so much to do. Before the event started Anne-Marie, described the Grace Hopper Event as "London Fashion week, but the tech version", but if you are like me, someone who had a vague idea of how London Fashion Week actually works, the GHC is a large expo with A LOT of tech companies who are looking to recruit young females interested in tech which is great for someone like myself in uni always looking to network.  There are also various talks from women in industry giving valuable advice based on experience, networking lunches and mock interviews along with CV advice from the various companies like Deutsche Bank.
We were also invited to have dinner with Deutsche Bank, breakfast with Accenture, Microsoft and Avanade, and attended a party where Salesforce rented out an entire arcade and bar for us and their employees. If Laiba hadn’t already had fun at the expo strategically gathering the multitude of freebies the companies gave out and playing giant snakes and ladders during the day -which she did- she definitely had fun at the Salesforce party; she was like a child walking into a candy store only but only this store was more Foosball, Pacman and various other arcade games. I must admit it was pretty sweet though.
 The three days ended with a closing keynote which was is a presentation with speakers like the CEO of Salesforce and the CTO of the United States, a very lively atmosphere with freebies being shot from the stage – literally- followed by a “ball” which was a disco with all the attendees just having fun.

Before we left, we made a trip to NASA, as in THE NASA and got to see THE mission control as well as facilities used today . I must say that even though I’m not the biggest space nerd I was honestly amazed at the history and the technology and the facilities. One of the space shuttles was so big I literally took off my sunglasses in amazement, I couldn’t get the shuttle in one shot on my camera.

Before I knew it, we were back in the UK, back in London, back at home and at uni the next day almost like nothing happened. But it did. I know that one of my biggest fears was not just going on a plane - which I’ve always hated - but actually being in America where you don’t always necessarily hear the best when it comes to Muslims or black people. I sort of feared the prospect of people disliking/discriminating because of those two factors but my experience was quite the opposite. Everyone was welcoming, everyone had a mutual sense of being interested in technology which was probably the best thing about being there. Being in an environment and amidst an atmosphere of people where you have a mutual interest of something, seeing so many females from so many backgrounds still puts a smile on my face whilst I type this. One of the first things I said on the first day when I walked in was “ I have to come again” because that feeling hits you as soon as you walk in.

 “Wow that’s so cool!”, is what people say when I explain a little more.

And it was. I didn’t just have the best time at one of the best conferences in the world but I had fun as part of the FabFive as we’ve been named. I was also concerned about going on a trip with people I barely knew but at the end of the trip I felt like I knew the other girls for as much longer than I do. Laiba and I were basically an “old married couple”, arguing about us being late all the time which she denies being part of even though we were in the same room and came down together! Anne-Marie, Yasmin and Emma Ashley were pretty cool too, just really fun to be around and weren’t too angry about me coming down last sometimes, sorry about that guys! I totally blame the jet lag though…


All in all the trip was truly great. I also want to thank the STEMettes for the opportunity- it was better than I expected, and to shoutout to the four other members of the FabFive, thanks for the great trip and memories!

Watch snippets of my experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mO2bzOpDZg

Friday, 4 November 2016

"Phoenixing"

Have you ever been irritated by something that it's made you think deeply about your own life? And when I say deeply I mean so deeply, so extensively you feel an intense feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I have, and in fact right now at 00:22 when I should be sleeping for my 9am tomorr- no, today, my 9 am today, I'm here trying to put the feeling that's a cross between my wanting to lash out violently, me wanting to break down and cry and me wanting to run away and throw up. 
The point I'm trying to make through my poor articulation is this adrenaline rush , which is probably the simplest way to put it, is actually spurring something I'm praying that I cling onto and make good out of. 

Simply put, I'm at a point which I will make significant because my gut says so. 

I want to relate this whole thing to a Phoenix somehow. They're often depicted in flames- but they're of growth and new life. The fire nourishes good things as my fire will nourish and nature and uphold good things to come, InshaAllah. 

And obviously everything comes as Allah wills but they'll come when I grab them with both hands and not let go. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. No fear, no procrastination, no limitation. This is me "phoenixing" essentially. The only difference is the Phoenix is a myth, and this is real.



Anyway, long ramble short, stay posted!

Sawda

Monday, 12 September 2016

Update:



No, I'm not dead, and no, funnily enough I haven't forgotten about this even though it really seems like I have lol. I can promise you there are drafts I didn't get round to finishing, and posts that are still in my head. I've had a long summer break that's about to come to an end and all in all, its been cool.

Some updates of the self include:
1.That competition that I last posted about? I won! Myself and some other girls will be in attendance InshaAllah*.
2. I got my first job, and let me tell you the struggle was real. I feel like the hunt was well worth it though, for several reasons.
3. I'm due to start studying a computer science degree. For now this sits with me with next to no emotion.  But I'll say alhamdulilah* for the fact, nonetheless.

Right now, I'm basically at the end of my long summer break, and in all honesty it didn't really go to plan. Not that I had the most solid plan in some aspects but in the others that I  did...well, Allah is the best of planners after all. I like to be so in control of my life, plan things down to the T and look well ahead, but sometimes the most solid of plans can crumble under the Lord's will. To know that and to KNOW that are two separate things, right now, I'm in the process of fully digesting the KNOW to then get to a place where I'm at total peace with that.





It's ironic however, that I'm at a point where planning is essential. The ripple effect of my decisions and actions will be more prominent before and in a sense that's slightly nerve racking...

I can't really say I have a point to this train of thought, I just have this observation made, and an update I've shared with you.

*Most definitely going to use Muslim vocabulary more freely now. I have Christian friends that put IJN in confidence in their speech/text , even around me, so why am I reluctant to virtually do the same for myself? In trying to exercise authenticity, being the truest version of myself means using the words I think of naturally on my platforms openly and unapologetically so.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Grace Hopper Competition #SpreadTheSTEM

Stage One

For those of you that aren't aware, this post is an entry for a competition. 

Some of you may know,and others may not but I am interested in computing and I am currently doing my A-levels (Maths, Further Maths and Computing)  in order to study a degree in Computer Science starting later this year. As someone who is genuinely interested in what they were studying I ventured out to find things outside school I can get involved in. I stumbled across a mentoring programme by the STEMettes, and have been part of it for a few months now. Basically, I was paired with a women in STEM from Deutche Bank who has taken me under her wing in all things STEM. Because of this I am able to enter a competition allowing me to go to the Grace Hopper Celebration later this year in America, a celebration for female technologists and the world's largest gathering of females in computing. I would LOVE to go, it's always been an event I knew about about from my internet searches but never thought I could attend up until now so hopefully my entry to the competition gets me through.



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How do you get your network involved with STEM? In school, I am currently a STEM leader who promotes STEM whether that be through hosting events, organising events or even tweeting on the school's twitter account.
Some things we've done throughout the year include host international delegates from various countries or other guests, start the This Girl Can Campaign, talk to the school during assembly about STEM related topics, organise STEM days for all year groups, launch an edition of our magazine and even talk for the Mayor's Education Conference video
We share STEM thoughts and ideas, but moreover a passion for STEM through a voluntary role in our community.
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I creating a poster to get people to download the STEMettes app.
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Currently, we are off for exams, but are looking to organise a second Women In Engineering Event as last year's was a success. Women and Engineering are two words not often associated with each other, so our hope is to not just inform girls about the vast types of engineering there is but to actually have external speakers that come in and speak to students about their experiences in STEM. We hope to celebrate this on the actual date 23rd June, make sure to stay posted about what happens then.

 Stage Two

So why get involved with the programme?

First reason is because the knowledge you gain. I was actually reluctant to join and didn't really have much expectation for the scheme, but having gone through it I feel much more prepared for the future in my industry.
Chloe (My Sherpa) has opened my eyes to careers other than being a software developer. She took the time out to find several job descriptions that suit me and has answered numerous questions as to what things are actually like once you leave university. She's given me information on what companies I can apply to for internships and work experience, introduced the concept of a spring week, helped build my CV, given me tips on my professional online profile ( set up due to her inspiration) and networking and even advised me with A-levels. Having someone that has experienced things similar to you, if not exactly as you have, explain things and guide you through choices is much better than reading it off the internet or hearing it off someone you don't know as experience is the best teacher after all.

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I'll encourage every young person to find a mentor, and if you're a girl that's interested in STEM to sign up to the STS programme. Whether you're like me and know exactly what you want to do in STEM, or unsure for whatever reason, being part of this programme is bound to benefit you in one way or another.
Selfie of Chloe and I on one of our meetups

Stage Three

I think its important for companies like Deusche bank to give girls like me the opportunity to take part in such events because most time they don't have the opportunity otherwise. For example this event isn't accessible to all due to location and cost, but is an excellent example for girls like myself as to what they can do and be in a field that they are interested in. We all know the stats about low numbers of women being in STEM  fields, but solving the problem starts with someone -like the people from Deutsche Bank advocating for those who may need the assistance into getting there. The stigma against STEM for females is a culture, and culture can only be changed by the people who are upholding it like you and I who take opportunities and attempt to make a difference.

If I am fortunate enough to be chosen to go to the GHC I'll most definitely share my experience here, and all my social media accounts as I am a big user of social media. I hope to blog the experience so people can actually see and better understand what goes on and maybe even feel encouraged to go next year. Although I've done/do a lot in school for STEM and promoting it in my community, I won't tbe there to do so for much longer. My hope from this event is to be inspired and that through this event I am able to continue inspiring others when I leave school and uphold the 'STEM leader' role that I've actually enjoyed being in for the last two years.

#SpreadTheSTEM


(apologies for my videos, initially, the entry was supposed to be a vlog which would have been super cool and would have allowed me to live my vlogger dream but technology ironically wasn't my friend an and the edits for my video are proving difficult to upload, hopefully you get the gist though)

Friday, 15 April 2016

A wise man once told me...

This is what came up with the search for "wise man" on Google. lol
So first off, this man was just a random man, I don't know if he was/is "wise" as such, I didn't even know, and still don't know who this man is. I just knew he was a man, basically a random uncle who turned to me mid-revision.

He started off with the typical "when are your exams?" every aunty and uncle pose you with in the library. At this point part of me was like "🙄 pls uncle" but of course, I was polite and answered the man's question, "In June" I said, and looked down to resume working.
He then said something along the lines of "work for yourself, don't work for other people" which made me look at him; I nodded in agreement. Again this partially just was to be polite, but this was admittedly good advice that I at least had to nod to. 
He then went on to say that in this day and age we live in an "open system" and that when he was growing up, the norm was that you were told by your parents to do a certain things, you had to work for someone else because that was the only option you had. Nowadays it's different, I should work and work for myself, he said.

Now I was really paying attention. Although the narrative had that "in my day" tone we've all heard from our parents before, he had a valid point. First point, that I should work for myself. If he had stopped there I would have taken the lesson that my "grind" is for me. We often talk about wanting to prove X and Y and Z a person wrong , stunt on the people that doubted or played you, but really the main focus of your life is you and not the next man speculating. I find that when I'm just being mindful of me and not everyone around me, my intentions are so much clearer; sincere intentions are something I really look for in everything. Not to mention the focus you have when you're just concentrating on you can be so good and productive in things like work. So yes uncle, I will work for me.

Second thing that resonates with me was the open system he referred to. We now know that not even the sky is the limit, and so if that is the case what stops me from tapping into all the potential I have other than myself? Vast Opportunities are at my fingertips  I have so much I can do. Open is limitless, limitless describes all there is out there.  When I think about it "system" is almost an oxymoron in the sense that systems are made to regulate and standardise things. In relation to what uncle said, I feel like the open system is almost a reflection of how one can choose to be led, whilst they can also choose to be their own leader.We have choice. I don't think he went deep into thought when he was speaking to me but we quite rightly so live in a "open system", and we have the choice to do what we want with that.

Thirdly, he  mentioned working for myself and not for someone else. Self-employment is one thing, and I have been looking into it, but he wouldn't have known that for the short time he spoke to me. Self-employment isn't for everyone and everyone can't be self employed, but I do think that working for yourself can be achieved by working to be self-fulfilled rather than just for the sake of it. Of course, you work to put food on your plate, but I was once advised to not work towards being something, but to work to fulfil something. For example, if you want to be someone that helps people, let that be an end goal rather than becoming a doctor because in that way you'll feel a greater sense of satisfaction. Going back to what the man said I think that working for yourself can be achieved by setting goals outside the money and outside the promotions and outside status.To work to facilitate opportunities in your life, manifest your character and express your personality is a lot better than working because you have bills to pay. It sounds a lot nicer and as much as I know it's easier said than done, it's something that I'd aim to do.

After he said those few words he said he'd leave me to work. As short as the encounter was, it moved me. The man spoke to me for no more than two minutes if that, but there was and still is something about the moment that touched me. I believe in signs and lessons so I'll take it as one, but besides that I'll describe the event as my friend who asked me what he was talking about did.

"Cute".

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

lol hi

My blog name still remains "sawdadoesnotblog" lol. In all honesty, My excuse is A levels, because they are not a joke. But if it makes matters any better, I can honestly say I haven't forgotten about this blog at all, I've just avoided writing because at the time I get the urge to express I don't find myself by a computer, and if I am by a computer I'm doing something else, and not putting effort into making my thoughts coherent enough to put on a blog.

"Analysis paralysis" is another thing that I suffer from but trying to let go of gradually. I was made aware of it when watching a Patricia Bright video  and I personally define it as as "over thinking and over analysing to the point of not actually doing anything". I do this so much and I feel like I've lost out and will continue to lose out because of it. I probably said something similar in the last post I made (yes, the one in September lol,) but saying your going to get rid and actually getting rid are two separate things.

On that note, procrastination is another thing that's so crippling.

"I'm gonna post this Friday"
*Friday comes*
"I'm gonna post this Sunday"
*Sunday Comes*
"Hmmmm...I might have a bit of spare time on Tuesday "
*Tuesday comes*
"Okay okat, this Friday is a must"

....and the cycle repeats and you find yourself in March.

As much as I like to plan, prepare and what not, I can often fall into the trap of just procrastinating because of it. In the scenario of writing something of expression like a blog, I've got to capture the feeling in the moment by doing things in the now and getting it out of the way. The same goes with tackling tasks. I just love the feeling of crossing things off my to-do list because I just did it and didn't "plan" to do it.

Anyway, not much point to this, other than attempting to re-establish something I want to genuinely do and hopefully do well.

Stay Posted

Sincerely,

Sawda