Women in Tech has seen a huge push in the last decade with women making up 26% of the computing workforce in 2013. Last year, more women enrolled in Berkley’s introductory computer science class than men (TechRepublic). The times are a’changing – Stephanie Mears is a shining example of that. While at Florida State, Stephanie pursued a degree in Information Technology in the School of Information. It was during her senior year that she attended an information session that changed her life.
“I was an intern at the City of Tallahassee as a Help Desk Technician,” she recalls. Microsoft recruiting visited Florida State and Stephanie attended the seminar, contacting the recruiter shortly after. “I was rather intrigued with the program that develops and helps transition recent college graduates into professional technical roles at Microsoft.” A slew of emails, a phone interview, and a four hour in-person interview later – Stephanie was offered a position with the Microsoft Academy for College Hires. Microsoft hired Stephanie and 70 other recent grads from across the country, splitting them between Dallas, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina. Elated, Stephanie left her friends and family and moved to Dallas. “It was a little nerve wracking,” she admitted, “but also exciting to move to a new city where I knew no one.”
New to Microsoft, Stephanie attended conferences to learn about the company and it’s culture, followed by several months of technical training. After general training is completed, college hires are assigned to their formal teams. Stephanie joined the Lync/Skype team, where she works today as a Senior Support Engineer. “I work with Fortune 500 companies that have large support contracts with Microsoft,” she explained. Companies who have issues using Lync or Skype engage Stephanie, who then troubleshoots and debugs the issue. Behind the scenes, she’s responsible for analyzing data and SIP trace logs in production environments specific to VOIP & Unified communications, identifying potential product bugs, and the development and mentoring of other engineers.
In the short two and a half years Stephanie has been at Microsoft, her impact on the company has been noticed. In June 2014, she was the recipient of The Great People, Great Performance award, which recognizes individuals who make key contributions to the Services business that align to Microsoft’s Services’ mission & goals. Last month, she was recognized again – this time to participate in the Senior Technical Leadership Program. The program focuses exclusively on the top 2% of individual contributor Technical Leaders and works to accelerate their development in areas outside technical expertise. “This program opens a lot of doors for networking and leverages technical expertise,” she explained.
Stephanie is living in Dallas, loving the city and her job. To find out more about Stephanie’s undergraduate studies, check out the Information Technology curriculum.