I had the pleasure of interviewing Fiona Chow, a Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) alumna who was a 2017 Certificate of Distinction recipient and 2018 State Honorable Mention. Fiona graduated from Burnsville High School Graduate in 2018, and is currently a sophomore at Michigan Tech where she is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Environmental Studies. Thanks so much to everyone who tuned into our LIVE stream and submitted questions!
Fiona and I had a great time chatting and answering viewer questions! We talked about college, current projects, and adulting!
Fiona spent two recent summers interning at Land O'Lakes. While there, she worked closely with many influential women who are advancing agritech, and are in a tech leadership role of some kind. She was also able to build a strong professional network, and got to know the two other Aspirations interns with whom she still keeps in contact with today!
Now that Fiona is in her sophomore year in college, she shared some wisdom about freshman year experiences, including how to manage time spent with friends and time for classwork, homework, and projects. Check out the video link above for advice from Fiona!
In addition to juggling classwork, homework, exams and new friends, Fiona is also currently working on a design project in conjunction with an organization called Enterprise at Michigan Tech; a collaboration with the US Military. Before I go on, can we just pause and take that all in? How cool is Fiona… seriously? She’s working on a project for the US Military!
Anyway, her project work consists of using sensors underneath frozen lakes such as Lake Michigan to track movement, which can be difficult because the ice itself is not stationary. This definitely sounds like a very innovative, cool, and interesting project! Way to go, Fiona!
One of the questions directed to Fiona by a viewer was why she chose to attend college out of state. In response, she shared her reasons for selecting Michigan Technological University as her higher education destination. She also shared great insights into why it’s important to make sure you feel at home at the college of your choice, which can make a somewhat scary transition a lot easier!
I can personally remember feeling the same way when I was looking at colleges. Fiona and I compared notes on our experiences transitioning from high school to college and my transition from college into the “real world.” The biggest difference I found between our experiences is that the transition out of college isn’t the same for everyone — like me, I have friends that are working full-time jobs, I also have friends in grad school, friends taking a gap year before grad school, even a friend that is spending a year teaching English in Spain!
Fiona and I both agreed the most important nontechnical skill that has served us very well during our transitions is good communication and interpersonal skills, which includes being a great listener. In college, you’ll be meeting lots of new people and will be managing your own life, for the most part, so you’ll need to feel comfortable speaking with new people every day. Good communication skills become even more important as you make the transition into the “real world” or “workplace”. As you work closely with colleagues, you’ll need to be able to communicate challenges you’re experiencing in getting your job done or support you may need from them or your boss. And keep in mind…you’ll be communicating with clients and company stakeholders.
During the live stream, I also got the opportunity to share a little more about my work as a Systems Verification Engineer at Abbott. I spend my days in a lab performing tests on cardiac catheters and their hardware systems to make sure that the entire system is safe for patients. Working in the medical device field has been amazing, I get to work with some of the most cutting edge technology in the world and I come home each day feeling like the work I did has made a difference in someone’s life. I love my team — we may not have a lot in common personally, but we somehow are great friends and work well together!
If you’d like to learn more about Fiona, we featured her in one of last year’s “Where are They Now” blog posts, here’s the link! Also, make sure you connect with her in the MNAiC IT Connect Community. Feel free to ask me or Fiona any questions you may have.
Special thanks to Fiona for taking time out of her busy college schedule to speak with us and help us launch our “MNAiC Alumnae Stories.” It was great catching up with you Fiona — best wishes with your studies and please be sure to update the community on your progress at Michigan Technological University!
Thank you all again for joining us for the premiere of our MNAiC Alumnae Stories LIVE on Instagram! Don’t forget to submit your Aspirations in Computing Award applications by November 5th at 8:00PM CST! I promise you won’t regret applying!
Lastly, make sure you tune-in on November 20th at 7:00PM CST for our next LIVE segment on Instagram!
ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning! Over 300 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, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.