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Laura Alkhoury

Dear First Year Me,

You may feel overwhelmed right now, you may feel like you are the least experienced student in your program, that everyone else knows exactly what they are doing and you’re just lost. This feeling is called impostor syndrome, and even the most experienced industry members suffer from it. The key is to keep pushing! Don’t give up because you think you’ll never get there, plan your route and make specific goals: skills to learn, industry sectors to research, and books to read. A lot of important education occurs outside of the classroom, and it’s up to you to learn. Hold yourself accountable for your progress, but don’t be too hard on yourself – nobody’s perfect.

If you’re feeling under-qualified, turn that around and use it to your benefit. One of my favourite quotes is by Michael Dell: “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room”. Surrounding yourself with people who can teach you things is one of the most important things you can do to achieve your goals. However, make sure that your relationships are symbiotic – everyone has something to offer (yes, you too)! Make sure you are sharing your knowledge with others. Seek to give back, improve the individuals and communities that you care about.

Last January, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to a particular industry conference. I didn’t know anyone going from my school, the female-to-male ratio of attendees was about 1 to 30, and I was worried that it would be terribly awkward. Due to the shortage of female attendees, I was placed in a hotel room with women I had never met – terrifying! That conference literally ended up changing my life, not only professionally, but also personally. My hotel roommates became my best friends and I made countless new connections. After attending that conference, I was personally introduced to top-notch recruiters and invited to attend more events.

Everything you participate in is interconnected – whether it’s conferences, student societies, or even new social circles, each opportunity presented to you is an open door to personal growth. Throw yourself into the unknown with everything you have, and you will see results.

Laura Alkhoury

Biography:

My name is Laura Alkhoury and I’m a third-year Computer Science student at Carleton University. I also work as a Systems Architect for CAN-BEST Building Sciences, and work with the Carleton Computer Science Society as Director of Social Media. I’m a conference addict and I love playing with hardware, from data acquisition technology, to Raspberry Pi boards, to beacons and wearables.

Laura and fellow Carleton delegates at Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC) 2014.

Laura and fellow Carleton delegates at Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC) 2014.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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