Amazon mentors mold young minds
Tiasha Datta, a rising high school senior, has narrowed down what she’ll study in college to two options: computer science or a foreign language. You might think her Amazon mentor through Girls Who Code is pushing her towards computer science, but software development engineer Kristin Cox is doing no such thing.
“I just want to be helpful with whatever she’s going through,” said Kristin. “I want Tiasha to know she doesn’t have to know what she wants to do right now. She doesn’t need one fixed path - it’s ok to try different things.”
Tiasha and Kristin meet once a week for lunch in Doppler. Kristin, who works on the Kindle Education team, said she likes her job because it involves problem solving, careful communication, and teamwork. “I like bringing a solution to life so that other people can use it,” she said. And, even though Tiasha isn’t sold on a career in coding just yet, she enjoys learning to code for similar reasons. “Coding is really hard for me, but when I’ve solved a problem, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world,” she said.
In sharing her day-to-day experiences at Amazon with her mentee, Kristin gives Tiasha a better sense of what life would be like as an engineer. “It’s inspiring to have a mentor, especially a female mentor, because I could be her in 7 years,” said Tiasha. “If I hadn’t met fun, relatable friends along the way, I never would’ve gotten into this field,” Kristin added.
Many companies around the country host Girls Who Code, but Amazon is particularly committed to the mentorship piece of this program.
“It’s so important for these girls to see people who look like them doing what they want to do someday,” said Victoria Sykora-Lovaas, one of the Girls Who Code instructors. “Amazon has seriously stepped up. Our mentors, who have all kinds of different jobs within Amazon, provide weekly resume critiques and professional development advice.”
The Girls Who Code program is almost finished for the summer, but Tiasha and Kristin plan to keep in touch as Tiasha starts to apply to college – whether she studies computer science or not.