Got my first job! Working to close the gender gap in technology

This story was initially posted in FIU News by Isabel Gamarra. 

Norhan Elbermawy

Name: Norhan Elbermawy ’19

Hometown: Born in Cairo, Egypt, and raised in Miami, FL

Degree/Major: Double majored in digital media and sociology. Received the Global Learning medallion.

Where are you working? Title? I work for Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and increase the number of women in computer science. I work as a marketing associate under the Marketing, Advocacy and Communications (MAC) team.

How did you get your job? I used my time at the university taking as many opportunities as I could to deepen my experience in what I enjoy the most, which are international development and marketing communications. From this, I was able to land multiple internships in the field that gave me a competitive portfolio when it came to applying for job opportunities post-grad. I’d heard of GWC in the past and when I saw the posting on Glassdoor, a career development platform, I knew I had to apply.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job, and how did you face it or overcome it? I knew from the beginning I wanted to have my first job after graduation in New York City. The move by itself was intimidating but “imposter-syndrome” can feel very real when you’re surrounded by so many talented and experienced people in a very fast-paced environment.

Before I left Miami, my marketing director at my previous internship gave me a book that included a “strengths-finder” test and encouraged me to take the exam to stay rooted and confident in my strengths. By being grounded in that self-awareness and remembering all the hard work I’ve put in since day one as a freshman at FIU, it helps me feel comfortable in my new role and continue to be brave.

What surprised you the most about your first job? The People and Culture team at GWC are incredibly organized and diligent in developing a very clear plan for all their new hires. I was worried about that first week of work; but when I walked into the office, they had a clear agenda for the entire first week, a 30-60-90 day plan, and a very thorough on-boarding process that relived all the anxieties I had prior to starting. Best first day ever!

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?

  • It is important to be very patient and have a clear plan for yourself on what you want and when you want it. I was sure to start applying two months before graduation to account for all the interview processes involved.
  • Make sure your resume isn’t just a document listing job titles and bullet points. It should also include your accomplishments from your past experience. Hiring teams look at hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes for one job posting, so it’s important to make that “first-glance” really match the profile they look for.
  • You won’t always receive a response from some applications, but it’s important to apply to as many postings that match your interests as you can and to remember —it’s nothing personal, just a numbers game. It took me 63 applications to receive a handful of responses. The right opportunity will come your way as long as you put yourself out there.

What does a day on the job look like? I spend mornings getting caught up on any unread emails, reviewing my agenda for the day to prepare for any upcoming meetings, and putting myself in a productive state of mind to tackle the day. Currently, we’re working on a couple of creative projects that require a lot of ideation meetings. In my role, I help coordinate a lot of the fine details and assist in project managing with different team members. I spend a lot of time working with performance data and making suggestions based off analyzing the data, including website metrics, our donations and store, and helping our programs departments in their outreach and development goals.

It’s a very central role. I love it because every day is different and the nature of GWC is constantly evolving and growing with the needs of our girls and program developments.

How does your job connect back to your coursework? A lot of dots are connected between my studies in digital media and sociology because my role is digitally and technically focused, while the organization works on an issue that I studied deeply in my sociology classes, particularly in gender studies.

How was your transition from school to work? How do you balance your time? I was very involved on campus and pursued a lot of internships and volunteer activities; so my schedule was pretty full during my university career — a lot of days I would get home at 11 p.m. because of how much I had to balance. I think the biggest transition now is actually having a lot of extracurriculars lifted off my calendar and focusing my time on my full-time job. My favorite way to keep organized with my time is my calendar and learning to prioritize things with the time blocking method. For example, I will not touch any emails related to my job outside of work hours to be able to enjoy my personal relationships and explore my new city.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far? Our team culture really values original ideas. If you have an idea you really believe in that you see could make an impact, you are encouraged to take it and run with it to make it come to life.

Also, tons of free food.

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