Guest Blog: Top 10 reasons to apply for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award
By Atalanta Stoeke

Last year, I had the wonderful experience of being introduced to the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing community and event. I was chosen to be a Minnesota State Runner-Up, and after attending the awards ceremony for the award recipients, I realized just how amazing an opportunity this program was. This year, I applied again and was chosen to be State Winner – an achievement I am honored to accept. With the sheer number of amazing opportunities that you can gain from this program, I believe that the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award is something in which even more girls should be involved.


If you’re a girl in high school with any sort of interest in technology and/or computing, I highly recommend you check into this program!


Below is my list of the Top 10 reasons why the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is so great.

10The Awards Dinner and Ceremony
Any event that brings together brilliant minds such as those who attend this event is bound to be spectacular, isn’t it? Well, this ceremony and dinner combo certainly isn’t an exception! There is a keynote speaker, you get to dress up, press is there to take your picture, you receive an award for you to keep plus another one to give your school to put on display, there’s a presentation where each winner is individually recognized, plus there’s a banquet held for all the winners.

9Swag (All the Cool Stuff You Get)
For both Runner-Ups and State Winners, you get a lot of cool stuff! Most is dependent upon that year’s sponsors, but no matter what you get, you know it’s going to be good! For example, sponsors this year included Logic PD, Land O’ Lakes, Microsoft, and more. This year I won a new Samsung tablet, two backpacks, two bags of related tech gear, as well as a huge bag of assorted food items.

8Recognition
Everyone in this ceremony has accomplished amazing things – why not own up to it? At this ceremony, you get recognized for the cool and unique things you’ve done. You get featured on the NCWIT website, recognized by your school the sponsors and businesses affiliated with the program, and more. What’s the downside to that?

7Ideas for Projects, College Degrees, and IT Applications in Real Life
As said before, everyone at this ceremony has accomplished spectacular things. Some have taught at programming camps, others have done past internships with technological companies. I myself have lobbied twice in the Minnesota state Senate and House of Representatives for increased STEM funding in schools across Minnesota. With all these unique and innovative ideas for programs and outreach, you’re bound to walk away with some brand new ideas of your own.

6Partnership Opportunities
Another big perk to being a part of this community is all the partnership opportunities you’ll discover. The number of amazing professionals involved in the event is a springboard for opportunity if you’re willing to take it – a lot of these professionals and their respective companies are willing to partner with you to create your own specific program to benefit the community, whether it be a summer camp or something else. AspireIT, a subsection of this program, focuses on just that – allowing previous year winners the opportunity to make their own summer camp that brings more girls into IT.

5Job Shadowing
The companies that help sponsor this great program also have another connection available to the winners –job shadowing opportunities. Several of these companies have job shadows available where you can see a day in the life of a programmer, network administrator, and more. All you have to do is apply.

4Networking with Other Girls in IT
In this program, every high school girl there is interested in pretty much the same computer/technology topics as you – that’s what got them there in the first place! Just being at the awards ceremony and talking with some of the other girls there is bound to be a good experience – on top of that, you might become great friends with someone you met at the Aspirations in Computing awards ceremony, or partner to develop the next tech gadget to become the next Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

3Networking with Businesses and Professionals

So many professionals representing their businesses are in attendance, eager to talk and make connections with any and every winner there. It’s a perfect place to start making connections for your future career.

2Internships
By being selected as a winner or runner-up for one of these awards, you are given the opportunity to apply for up to three different internships offered by several companies. These internships that take place over the summer are a great way to get experience, as well as learn what the real workplace is like.



1Inspiration to Pursue Your Dreams!
Everyone in this community has done such amazing things – that includes you! Their stories show the different struggles they’ve had to face – no one has had the same experiences. Learn from their stories, get new ideas, find new avenues to pursue, and face your dreams with a new determination!

Atalanta_Stoeke

Atalanta Stoeke, Sophomore at Apple Valley High School, Apple Valley, 2016 State award winner, 2015 State runner-up.