During our event at Fossil on the 11. February I had the chance to speak with Natalie. Natalie is 18 years old, is currently in the third year of her apprenticeship at a swiss bank. Her class counts 17 people and she is one of 4 girls.

Natalie, tell me why did you decide to do an education in IT?

In my class in high school the girls usually decided to do an apprenticeship in office management or something in healthcare and nursing field. I was always very interested in IT and tech. My father used to work in IT so he inspired me. During school we had the chance to do some test to find out which professions fits the best and it was clear that something with tech would match the most. Technology has always interested me. So that’s why I decided to start my apprenticeship as an application developer. In my current class we are just 4 girls out of 17 students. When I started at the bank, there was just one girl in my team.

What is it like being in the minority for you?

For me it was unusual at first. From my previous school experience, I was used to that at least 50% of all students being female. I am rather a shy person. The communication between girls is different than the communication from girls to boys. But when you work in almost pure male teams, you learn to adapt and be more open. That’s the only way you can get through. In my opinion it’s the best to have diverse teams.

What are the advantages of working in almost pure male teams?

As a woman in a technical profession, you get a lot of encouragement and support. This can be a huge advantage during the recruiting process for a job position. You are facing much is less competition because there are fewer women around to compete with. Companies are looking specifically for woman, to empower more diverse teams. Pure male teams have some advantages too, your ideas and opinions gain more easily exposure because you represent a minority view.

Have you had negative experiences during your apprenticeship?

In my previous team I was sometimes given the feeling that I was not as good as my male teammates because I am a woman. That was very uncomfortable for me. But luckily, I was able to change the team.

How did you deal with this situation and what would you advise to other girls who are in similar situations?

It the beginning I was overwhelmed and did not know exactly what to do. It is important being able to differentiate what is true and what not. If the situation is too overwhelming it is important to report this to the relevant authorities and HR. Involve the supervisors and try as a team to change the mindset. Just keep going and always stay true to yourself.

Describe your apprenticeship in three words:

  • Diverse
  • Interesting
  • Informative

What were your key learnings?

I was quite introverted at the beginning. Communication with people was difficult for me. During my apprenticeship, however, I learned how to open up. I have many meetings where I present my work and you learn to become more extroverted and confident in what you are doing. Computer scientists have a lot of social interaction in the team. You always learn something new, which offers you new perspectives.

What would you advise other girls in your age?

Be open to all professions. There are so many professions that can be interesting, but they are not always clearly communicated in schools. Do your own research. Stay curious, explore new opportunities and decide for an education where you feel comfortable. Visit information events and connect with organizations like Girls in Tech.