The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to honor young high school women for their computing-related achievements and interests. The powerful story of their accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in the spring of each year, it’s just beginning! Nearly 200 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities and accomplish AMAZING things.
Through the “Where Are They Now” series we have learned the incredible stories of Maria Sanchez Lopez, Erin Mitchell and Sarah Aladetan. In our fourth feature, we meet with another extraordinary MNAiC Alumna, Ananya Mishra. She is a 2014 Aspirations in Computing Awards national honorable mention recipient and 2013 Minnesota state winner from Maple Grove, Minnesota. At the University of Minnesota, Ananya is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in management. She also studied abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in the fall of 2016. She will begin her career in the fall of 2018 as a full-time Software Engineer at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. Ananya expects to be on the Microsoft Word team, developing features to improve the application.
Ananya started at Microsoft in the summer of 2016 in the rotational program management and software engineering internship program. As a program manager, she planned her software development project by gathering requirements and incorporating feedback from her mentors. Upon completion of the project, Ananya had developed a tree data visualization to transform tabular data into a tree. The tree visual was used internally to display natural language queries from Power BI Q&A as a parse tree, which aided internal debugging efforts. In the summer of 2017, Ananya returned to Microsoft as a software engineer intern, where she researched and developed an algorithm that would identify potentially corrupt databases. She used this research to implement a rogue database detection web tool that gave users the flexibility to search for and flag specific databases.
Ananya had also interned at Siemens and Verizon Wireless, each contributing valuable experiences to her goal of becoming a software engineer. During the spring semester of her senior year at Wayzata High School, Ananya was a part-time intern at Siemens, where she worked with Excel macros, quality assurance and video production. In the summer of 2014, she moved into a full-time intern role at Siemens, this time on the web development team. Ananya enhanced the company’s internal defect tool, adding features for user accounts, privacy and password complexity.
In the summer of 2015, Ananya joined a Bloomington, Minnesota Verizon Wireless team as the only onsite developer. She greatly improved the team’s efficiency by replacing numerous manually maintained Excel spreadsheets and macros with a new application that automatically calculated financials. Creating the application required Ananya to do both front-end and back-end development. She also contributed to Verizon’s campus recruitment efforts by creating an intern recruiting video for the University of Minnesota career fair.
Outside of internships, Ananya volunteers with CoderDojo and is a photojournalist for the Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota newspaper. While at a Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award Ceremony, she learned about CoderDojo from Matt Gray, one of the founders of CoderDojo Twin Cities. Since then, Ananya has been involved with CoderDojo for two years, mentoring kids in web development and Java. In her spare time, she loves to travel and to shoot street photography. As a photojournalist for the Minnesota Daily, Ananya takes photos of political events, breaking news stories, art and entertainment events, and sports. She is so talented that The Seattle Times published some of her photos!
The MNAiC Awards Program had a powerful impact on Ananya’s education and career journey — “It encouraged me to pursue computer science and helped me build a network of peers and mentors that I could rely on,” Ananya shares about the Aspirations in Computing Program. “It taught me that no matter how unattainable a goal seems, most likely, there’s no harm in trying.” One shining example of Ananya’s “there’s no harm in trying” philosophy has her teaming up with BDPA’s Justin Wulf to co-create an Aspirations rap video honoring the 2015 MNAiC award honorees at the Land O’Lakes-hosted ceremony. For those who are considering a computing-related future, Ananya advises, “There’s a lot of variety and job security in the computing and technology fields. Although some subjects may see hard, don’t get discouraged!”