Be Bold For Change – Going Above and Beyond to Make an Impact

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration is Be Bold for Change, and we are all being called to take action to drive meaningful change. What can you do beyond IWD and beyond Women’s History Month that can make an impact?

My name is Aditi Rajagopal. I’m a software engineer on the IBM Container Service Team based out of Rochester Minnesota. If you are wondering, “Containers? What’s that?” check out this video.

Aditi pink spiro.jpg

My IBM Journey

I started working for IBM after I graduated from University of Michigan in Spring 2014. During my time at IBM, I’ve been a Test-Engineer, an Open Source Contributor, and even taken on some Project Management roles. I currently work on the IBM Container Service – one of the foundation projects for IBM’s Cloud Offerings. I’m in the DevOps team focused on illustrating deployment and test information (status, results etc.) on an internal dashboard for our internal teams (~100 people) and maybe someday, customers too.  My role combines open source, user interface design and operations. The environment is fast paced, the backlog grows like a weed, and there is always something new to learn. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading into javascript’s quirks with different browsers, figuring out how pluggable architectures work, and painless ways to reskin a UI.

Outside my ‘day job,’ I am active in IBM’s inventing community — I have five patents pending, and a few more along the way. I’ve helped revitalize and relaunch the IBM Rochester New Hire Network, and now it’s one of the most active and impactful “New Hire” affinity groups across IBM. I’m also founder and president of the Women’s Network (WNET) onsite, and an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Be Bold For Change

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day? Personally, I’ll be tuning in for DiscoverE’s Global Marathon  which features some IBMers as speakers, and I’ll be teaming up with the WNET executive team to host a lunch & learn on “Reverse Mentoring.” Later this week, I’ll be giving two talks at the Society of Women Engineers Region H Conference, and mentoring some collegiates.

But what can we do beyond March 8th, and beyond Women’s History Month?

There are three simple things you can do in the comfort of your home (or couch):

1) Start a conversation.
2) Share your story.
3) Share your expertise.

You don’t have to have several degrees, or years under your belt to be an expert. And you certainly don’t need to be an expert to start a conversation or share your story. All you need to do is muster up a bit of courage to put yourself out there. I’ve started affinity groups, and have given talks at conferences – but I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if I hadn’t put myself out there.

If you are a new hire, you can start a conversation with some of your fellow new hires. If you have been with your company for longer, reach out to your coworkers, or a mentor, or someone you admire. If you want to do something outside the office, you can reach out to your friend group, or maybe people on sites like “meet-up.”

If you have something you are passionate about, ask if you can host a talk or a workshop with your team, or even your site. Or maybe even apply to speak at conferences like the ones hosted by SWE or SXSW.

Share your story on social media or on a blog, and ask your network to share theirs — this doesn’t have to be limited to the virtual world.

The point is, start a conversation, and continue it. Don’t worry about making a ‘big splash’ or having a large headcount. Don’t worry about whether your thoughts are ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘really pack a punch.’ Get the conversation started, and put your story and your thoughts out into the world – you never know what response you’ll get, and you never know who you might inspire.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Aditi Rajagopal is a Software Engineer, Inventor, Affinity Group Leader, and SWE Advocate at IBM. She earned her BSE in Computer Engineering and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from University of Michigan in 2014. Aditi joined IBM in August 2014 – during her time at IBM, she has worked on Cloud Management Software, contributed to 2 Open Source projects, and has filed 6 patents. Aditi is currently a Software Engineer for the IBM Container Service focused on UI and DevOps. She has given talks at 3 conferences, is a freelance artist and also an avid twitter user.

If you are interested in finding out more about technical opportunities at IBM, follow our campaign #IBMTechTalent and if you want to learn more about how IBM supports women, read the stories about #WomenAtIBM.

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