On Mentoring and Manifesto

Monday, August 28, 2017
The EarthVR Team enjoying the meal we made together at a cooking class during a team offsite

I remember the night before the first day of my internship, I hardly got any sleep. It was a mixture of excitement and feeling like I was in way over my head. Now looking back, I feel so much more confident in my ability to have a successful and rewarding career in technology, and I have to attribute it to an overwhelming amount of support I received throughout the summer.

The summer was not without it’s ups and downs though. I felt technically challenged, exploring a the field of Virtual Reality which I had never worked extensively in before, but even more so, surprisingly, I felt mentally and emotionally challenged. I came into the summer wanting to try to answer the question of whether or not I wanted to pursue graduate school, but instead found a plethora of other questions to investigate. Questions like ‘If I was more likely to be chosen for my internship at Google because I’m a female engineer, does that mean I am less deserving of my internship?’, ‘Should I try to be adjusting my career goals right now knowing I am probably going to want to have children in the future?’, ‘Where are the most actionable pain points that keep women away from going into the tech industry?’, or ‘How are females in the workplace supposed to navigate uncomfortable interactions with male colleagues or when networking?’.

Obviously, these questions were not the easiest to ask and I still don’t have very concrete answers to them, but throughout my summer in the Bay Area, I couldn’t leave them alone. Because of the DTech program and the Google Intern program, I had an incredible array of opportunities to examine these questions from a variety of perspectives.

DTech events such as those with Carol Batz (Former CEO of Autodesk and Yahoo), Gayle Laakman McDowell (Hiring Consultant, Author of Cracking the Coding Interview), and Jane Buescher (Co-Founder of RockIT Recruiting, let me see Silicon Valley and the tech industry in general from incredibly interesting and different perspectives. My conversations with my DTech Mentor, Katherine Manuel, have allowed me to share and hear personal experiences in a way that left me eager to explore more of my questions after every video call. Also, being able to come home every night to a group of girls who were always ready to talk about issues regarding women in tech was instrumental in helping me digest all the nuances of my time in the Bay Area.

When the Google ‘Manifesto’ came out, I was pretty disturbed and was going into my last week at my internship. I did not know what that meant about this company I had loved working for if anything at all or how to digest the news. Within the first day of hearing about the manifesto, my Google Mentor had reached out to discuss the manifesto and subsequent responses and my Google Intern team, EarthVR, showed their support by voicing their disapproval of the manifesto to me and my intern pair. Throughout the week, I talked to my DTech mentor and housemates about the document and shared empowering article responses to it, which made my last week that started out unsavory, a sweet one in the end.

Looking forward, as a part of Duke’s Wiring With Women organization, I’m excited to grow the ways our campus has support networks to help other females interested in tech better navigate these difficult, unsettling questions about being a woman in tech like I was able to have this summer.

Jasmine Lu
Class of 2019
Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science
Internship: Google