Elon to host Women in STEM Careers Panel on March 13

Four female professionals, including Elon alumna Amber Smith ’14, will share advice and experience with Elon students from 6:30- 8 p.m. Wed., March 13, in McKinnon Hall.

Since graduating from Elon with a degree in computer science, Amber Smith ’14 has found her niche in big data.

As a staff software engineer and tech lead at Pendo in Raleigh, North Carolina — a software company that develops tools to capture user behavior and feedback on apps to drive improvements in user experiences — Smith works with a team of specialists to collect “all the data that powers our analytics and features.”

Portrait of Amber Smith '14 in front of a snow-capped mountain range
Amber Smith ’14

“We’re ingesting billions of events a day,” Smith said. “There are hard problems to solve, and it involves a lot of brainstorming and collaboration. Seeing those problems get solved and implemented start-to-finish is really rewarding, and that’s the reason I wanted to work at Pendo.”

Another thing Smith finds rewarding in her work: Supporting other women in STEM.

She will be among a slate of speakers at the Elon Women in STEM Careers Panel, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in McKinnon Hall. Though geared toward female and female-identifying students, all students are welcome to attend. The panel will also include Ellie Najewicz, a data modernization lead architect at IBM; Katrina Shah, service design strategist at Elevance Health; and Kayla Woods, a mechanical engineering at ABB.

Women are underrepresented in STEM. Elon Women in STEM is a pilot professional development program to foster support for female and female-identifying students pursuing STEM careers. It is a collaboration between Accelerate Success, the Student Professional Development Center and Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. The program is coordinated by Terri Mitchell, a former IBM executive, founder of Accelerate Success and a co-founder of Triangle Women in STEM. Mitchell is also a member of Elon’s Engineering Advisory Board. Mitchell was called to act after noticing a decline in the number of women in the tech industry.

The March 13 panel event is designed to elevate confidence among Elon students planning careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and to build a professional network of support for female and female-identifying students as they enter the field.

Those are areas Smith is passionate about, and she wants to support Elon students as they prepare for potential challenges like imposter syndrome as they enter the workforce.

“When I was at Elon, I never had to think twice about it: So many of my professors were women, there were many other women in my classes, and I felt supported from day one,” Smith said. “In the workforce, there are times you are the only woman in the room, and that was a reality shock. Over the years, I’ve learned how important it is to have that support system. Even if they aren’t on your team, it is helpful to develop a network of women you can talk to when you need support.”