When I started college, my goal was to become a doctor. Of course, it’s probably clear that was not the path I ultimately chose to take. I am currently a Senior Software Engineer here at Sprout Social, a position I landed in after nearly 16 years in the technology space.

My choice to switch directions from doctor to engineer is one that has been extremely rewarding, but certainly not without its difficulties. Similar to most women in the industry, or really women in general, I would love to say the experiences that led me here were challenging in all the right ways, but as most of us know that isn’t the truth.

Being a woman in technology can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially when you are new to the workforce or starting a new position. While this is understandable considering only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of computing jobs are held by women, it should not be acceptable.

More often than not, I have found myself being the only woman in a class, meeting or even on a team, which has led me to look for opportunities that provide supporting and engaging environments for women. This is one of the reasons I feel so fortunate to work at Sprout. Everyday I am reminded of the commitment Sprout has to beat the industry standards and create a workplace where women, and people from all backgrounds, feel welcome.

One way I have seen this come to light is through an opportunity I had this past summer to mentor a young woman, Gwyn, who joined Sprout’s engineering team as an intern. Having experienced first hand the benefits of having a female mentor during my summer internship in college, I was thrilled to serve as a mentor for Gwyn and proud of my company for seeing the benefits of providing this type of resource to her.

My goal for the mentorship was to help relieve the uneasiness of being on a primarily male team, support Gwyn in her career journey and be a role model. Throughout the summer we got together weekly to discuss any questions or concerns, share a glimpse into what we were each working on and talk about life outside the office. After every meeting I was reminded about the power mentorship can have on encouraging and keeping women in technology. I still reflect on and appreciate the wealth of knowledge I gained during my mentorship in college. Not to mention, having a strong mentor was a large factor in my decision to accept a full time offer from that company.

In both of my mentorships I have been lucky enough to build professional relationships, as well as friendships and I look forward to seeing how increased access to mentorships like these will impact the industry in the future.