SPARCing Creativity with Securian Financial
Imagination plus engineering? I am in!
Often engineering does not seem exciting, but when you consider all the imagination, creativity, and teamwork that goes into engineering, it starts to become very exciting. We showed 23 young women the highlights of working in the world of technology. They learned incredible skills, such as teamwork, imagination, and engineering. On October 28th, Securian Financial’s Women in STEM Alliance had the opportunity to host a SPARCS career readiness event with Minnesota Aspirations in Computing called, “Becoming the Imagineer”.
The event joined several members of the Women in STEM Alliance group with six other female leaders within Securian Financial as panelists, as well as 23 high school students from across the state. The two-hour virtual session took full advantage of the capabilities that Zoom meetings has to offer – moving between large group discussions and smaller breakout rooms.
The goal of the event was to introduce young women in high school to Securian Financial – Women in STEM Alliance, to discuss how the panelists use innovation and creativity in their jobs. The panelists represented a variety of careers to show that "Becoming the Imagineer" is something you can do anywhere, with any role – whether you are a technology creator, and/or a technology power-user who offers other valuable workplace skills.
After the initial introductions, the group was split into breakout rooms – each room led by a panelist, joined by a member of the Women in STEM Alliance and 2-4 high school students. The smaller groups allowed the panelists to talk directly to the students, ensuring the pre-submitted questions and any questions that came up during the interaction were addressed.
During the last hour of the session, the entire group worked on an activity called "Lost at Sea" where each breakout room had to use creativity, teamwork, and problem solving to see if they could escape the perils of being lost at sea. While the ultimate survival of a few groups did come into question in the end, the activity was able to bring both the students and Securian Financial associates together to creatively discuss and solve the issue presented.
One of the Securian Financial panelists had this to say about the experience: "It was a fun experience to engage with the girls in some Q&A about creativity and problem solving and to work together on a problem-solving scenario. I was impressed by how they thought through the scenario, weren’t afraid to share their ideas, and had fun with something new and different. I also really enjoyed the chance to participate with all the fabulous Securian women. I can’t remember the last time I was part of something at work that was all women and it inspired me engaging with this future generation of female leaders."
Here are what some of the students thought about the event:
“Loved how excited the panelists were and you could tell they all wanted to be here!”
“I enjoyed hearing about the processes that the mentors took to getting their current jobs. I am not sure what type of engineering I should study most in college and this was a good way of listening to the different paths.”
“I liked that the large group got divided into small breakout rooms. I think this was an effective way to get the panelists and participants to interact with each other.”
“I loved the shipwrecked game we played! It was really fun, and it brought out the problem-solving parts of me.”
“I liked that the people who were talking were very nice and included everyone.”
Overall, the evaluation feedback from students and Securian Financial associates revealed that the event was well-received, truly hit the mark, and was a big success. Our attention now turns to engage in other opportunities to support and influence young women to aspire to technical careers.
If you or your organization are interested to become involved in MNAiC efforts to inspire and empower young women, we’d be delighted to discuss engagement opportunities with you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.