Women in IT (Part II): Evaluating my strengths, meeting my mentor


Soon after the program started, we were sent a link to an online test called the StrengthsQuest test. I answered a series of questions about my personality and behavior, and in return it told me what my five strongest traits were. My results, in order of dominance, were: Futuristic, Empathy, Intellection, Deliberative, and Learner.

These are the summarized descriptions. You can read the full versions here or here

Futuristic: “People especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their vision of the future.”

Empathy: “People especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.”

Intellection: “People especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

Deliberative: “People especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.”

Learner: “People especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and what to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.”

My thoughts on the StrengthsQuest assessment

While I agree that all of these traits describe me (especially if you read the full description), it seemed like most of the information the evaluation reported was information I had contributed during the survey. So I didn’t feel like the test told me anything new about myself. For example, I said that I enjoy being alone, and in my results it told me “You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection.” Nevertheless, I enjoyed taking the time to reflect on my strengths. There were certain aspects of my personality that I don’t often think about. Later in the week, we had a feedback session directed by Michael Chapin. Michael works in the Career Center, and he helped us create a 30-second pitch for ourselves that incorporated our five strengths.

Meeting Our Mentors

The morning after our StrengthsQuest meeting, the students of SPIN-IT met in Ursa’s for a nice breakfast catered by Bon Appétit. As I walked in, I was given a nametag that had the name of my mentor under my own name. My mentor’s name was Holli Kubly, and when we found each other we grabbed some breakfast, sat down, and started talking. Right away, I was really glad that I had been paired with Holli. She is a Project Manager at Olin Library. She likes to cook. She knows a lot about design. The more she told me about herself, the happier I was that she was my mentor.

Mark Smith, the assistant vice chancellor and director of the Career Center was also sitting at our table. At one point he asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated. I replied that I was interested in software development. The conversation moved on, but I continued to think about his question. What did I want to do after I graduate? I had no idea. I have so many interests! I got his attention later and told him I had a second answer—a secret dream job of mine. I told him I’d love to be the person who picks the music for movies and television shows. I expected my comment to elicit a smile, maybe a knowing nod that said we all have our dreams. What I didn’t expect was for Holli to enthusiastically say that she could set up a meeting with her colleague who is a music librarian. Mark, Holli, and I started thinking of ways that I could combine my interests in music and technology. I have to say, it felt really good to be taken seriously. When you grow up as someone who loves to write and wants to publish a book some day, you get used to people telling you you can’t*, and you come to expect it.

After the breakfast, I went to my classes for the day. Meanwhile, Holli wrote an email to Brad Short, the music librarian, that same day and told him that I was interested in learning about a career in music and technology. By the time I was done with classes, a meeting had been set up for the next week!



*Never listen to these people, because they are wrong.