Student Spotlight: Vidya Srinivasan, Program Manager: Microsoft

vidya

How did you become interested in Computer Science?

Growing up, I was very interested in math and problem solving. And I was surrounded by extended family members who pursued Computer Science, so part of me was curious to explore that field. I took a few introductory CS classes in high school and it felt like a natural fit.

What is your academic background?

I have a Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering, and a Masters in Computer Science.

With which organizations are you involved?

I’m a passionate Women in Tech advocate, and have served on the Grace Hopper Leadership Committee since 2014. GHC is the world’s largest conference for women in computing. This year, I’m Co-Chair of the Open Source Day committee where I lead a team of six across US and Europe, and work with nine open source organizations to conduct Code-A-Thon for Humanity.

I speak at Tech conferences on a variety of topics. Recent conferences include: Codess Seattle, Grace Hopper Conference, and Voices Conference.

I also do volunteer work. I’m a guest speaker for Skype in the Classroom—a program that aims at enriching educational experiences around the world. And I’m a designer for Asha for Education, which strives to promote education to underprivileged kids.

How did you get to where you are today?

Hard work and networking. I met with Microsoft representatives at the Fall 2010 Career Fair and was invited to interview. I got an internship offer and spent my summer exploring Microsoft and Seattle. At the end of my internship, I was nominated as the Microsoft Intern Ambassador for NCSU and offered a full-time position. Even three years later it can feel like I’m just getting started. There’s always more to learn.

What are your other interests?

I’m a singer. Since I was three years old I’ve trained in Indian classical music.  I’ve performed live, sang in four Indian TV channels, and lent my voice for a couple of short films. Currently, I sing with bands in Seattle to raise funds for non-profit organizations.

I also love participating in Hackathons. I feel hackathons are a great place to meet like-minded techies. I mostly work on “Technology for Good” projects. Last year, my team won the Microsoft Global Hackathon and took the “ice bucket challenge” with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Our grand prize was a review session with Satya to present our hack roadmap. Presenting to the CEO of Microsoft is easily one of the highlights of my career.

What advice do you have for women in Computer Science and other STEM fields?

It’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out when you start. Just do it anyway. Life is a series of experiments. Win or lose. These experiences are essential in understanding yourself better.

References:

  1. Grace Hopper Conference for women in Computing: http://gracehopper.org/
  2. Skype in the Classroom: https://education.skype.com/
  3. Asha for Education: http://www.ashanet.org/seattle/
  4. Codess Seattle: http://www.codess.net/events/seattle

 

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