Thursday, June 30, 2016

Microsoft's LinkedIn Acquisition from Millennial's View

So Microsoft just brought LinkedIn… Crap… I was just getting a hang of LinkedIn and its quirks and secrets. However maybe Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn will give me an advantage. There are bound to be some changes to LinkedIn in the future, even though the Microsoft CEO claims that, “We know that near term there will be no changes” and that they’ve merely instructed the LinkedIn CEO to "Manage LinkedIn with key performance metrics that accrue to our [Microsoft's] overall success”…
That’s confusing 1) If he’s (LinkedIn CEO) not reporting to a group of Microsoft execs that will inevitably draw up a new vision for LinkedIn then where is the change? 2) I must be missing something here ….. *digs deeper*

LOL I’m most likely confused because I don’t know what historically happens to companies that acquire other companies. But from a millennials view with a small background in business I’ll continue to comment on the news of Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn. Especially since I'm low key a huge LinkedIn fan and aspire to become a LinkedIn Expert

“This deal is all about bringing together the professional cloud and professional network,” - Mr. Nadella (Microsoft CEO)

-What is the professional cloud?

-How can those two merge or help each other out?

-Like as a LinkedIn user what will Microsoft bring to the table….?

Someone mentioned that Microsoft plans on implementing a help chat line. The way it works is that you’ll use LinkedIn as normally and the interface will now include a help chat line (assumingly in the corner of the screen) so that if you have any questions on how to complete a LinkedIn task you could just ask someone. I mean, there is a large problem amongst my peers where people don’t know what’s the benefits of LinkedIn, don’t know how to use it, it’s a waste of time, etc. I obviously don’t believe that… blatantly shown in the amount of hours I spend on the site and my quest to build a LinkedIngroup.


Ahhh.. now I’ve learned from Tech Crunch that Microsoft will bring over LinkedIn features into some of it’s software. “Outlook to become More LinkedIn”. So in addition to someone’s profile having their email, job title, etc. it will now include their LinkedIn profile. Admittedly, that does accelerate the process of making virtual and actual professional connections.

Microsoft is so smart. The more I read the more I give kudos to Microsoft. A large portion of the uses for Microsoft products are professional and office uses. LinkedIn is a prominent professional social network aka the playground for a lot of Microsoft users/customers. Microsoft is going where their customers are and taking a peek at all of that data of our behaviors to make their [Microsoft’s] products better. “Microsoft, meanwhile, would get a peek at your work history and connections.” *mind blown*

CNN Money said it best,
“Microsoft wants to use LinkedIn as a database of professional information and distribution channel for its software systems. LinkedIn gains additional financing and access to millions of people who could potentially join its network.”


And apparently Microsoft has an evil plan to give Cortana the tools to become the world’s best and crazy efficient personal assistant *evil laugh muahhahhahahah*. (source)

Awweee Microsoft spent $59 on me and I haven’t even started working for them yet, that’s a good sign right? All jokes aside à “Microsoft is spending $26.2 billion, or about $59 per user, for LinkedIn.”
According to the experts, this is a great 'cost per customer' price. (source)


Side note: This isn’t Microsoft’s first rodeo… they purchased a social networking site called, “Yammer” in 2008.. never heard of them. What if Microsoft likes to think it’s making these grand investments but really these purchases are actually not needed or worth it… Like when I “invest” in Chanel handbags (side side note: any designer handbag lover could argue that designer handbag purchases are indeed investments). But yeah what if Microsoft is doing just that…. (source)

Grammarly yours, Semirah D
More Women Engineer in Training:

Additional Resources:



Monday, May 30, 2016

6 LinkedIn Tips for College Students

6 LinkedIn tips and hacks for college students/recent graduates. There are a large amount of Do's and Don't's on LinkedIn however, this is a start to what your LinkedIn profile should look like.

Photo source
I'm sharing with you the secrets to LinkedIn success because, after becoming one of the top 1% LinkedIn profiles amongst my University, I have to do something with the hours of research I put into learning about the different LinkedIn features. 

As the new Vice President of my school's NSBE club, an academic and professional development group, I've discovered that many students still see LinkedIn as the "Facebook for Old People." There has not been one professional event or hackathon where I didn't connect with someone on LinkedIn, therefore building my network for future reference. LinkedIn has also noticed this deficit amongst college students and built an app to cater to our needs.  

1. Study what everyone else is doing. Look at professional’s in your industry profiles, take note on verbiage and tactics you can bring to your profile. However, some things are customized or may not be suited for you. Throw these ideas out of the window and be selective of what you put on your page.

2. Start by bringing your personal page to your family/friends. Add family/friends to not only build your network internally but, also to receive feedback on your profile. You may not realize how confusing it is to be looking for a tech job and have a profile full of irrelevant positions about your cooking experience.

3. Don’t only say what you’ve done- show it! Post samples of your work or share articles about your achievements, it gives you more credibility. 

4. Find out where is your community engaging? What are the most popular groups? You must be interested in your professional development so start by JOINING this group: Professional Development in College. 

Once you join a group, aim to post in it at least once a month... Then gradually become a weekly contributor. This will depict you as a knowledgeable resource in a given topic.

Photo source

5. Get creative: Post updates on the LinkedIn feed, ask questions, and link to other sites. OR if you have a blog, cross-share these post on LinkedIn to gain blog readers AND prove your expertise WHILE getting recruiters and future clients to notice you.

6. Continuously update your profile and your connections. Alongside having a relevant profile, you need relevant contacts. Maintain connections by annually reaching out to your connections by asking about their professional endeavors since you last saw each other.
These tips are hacks and secrets because, they are steps that the general public neglect to take. The current LinkedIn practice has been to create a profile, throw up your work experience, and add the recommended profiles. Then, you sit and wait till your profile miraculously baits recruiters to gift you a job. 

WELLLLL…… in such a competitive job market, it’s going to take a bit more effort to differentiate yourself from the 300+ million LinkedIn members. This can be done by taking an hour of your afternoon or study break to check out updates in LinkedIn groups or send a quick message to the recruiter you met at the NSBE convention. 

This guide is for people who have already set up a profile and these 6 steps should be taken to enhance your LinkedIn experience.

Join my LinkedIn group to connect with me and others interested in Professional Development!

LinkedIn's University team put together a checklist for students who need assistance setting up their profiles here.

Grammarly yours, Semirah D

P.S. The Just Apply Inc. non-profit for professional development in colleges is building a community of STEM and business students who are interesting in professional development. You can join on LinkedIn here. Also, I would greatly appreciate some feedback about the LinkedIn group since this is a new venture. You can tweet me like "hey Semirah, maybe the LinkedIn group would be better suited for professional tutorials!" OR "Yo Semirah, I just applied to a scholarship through your LinkedIn group, thanks!" Either message would be greatly appreciate. xoxoxo

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or paid post. I am truly just obsessed with finding all the cool features on LinkedIn and exploiting them. And then sharing all of these features with fellow college students and friends puts more value into the hours I spent. However, LinkedIn you are more than welcome to reach out to me! I'd love a tour of the Mountain View or NYC headquarters.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack Competition 2016

I applied to the MIT Hacking Medicine competition and the Grand Hack committee accepted me as one of the 40% out of 2,000 international applicants. After being informed about how many people were turned down from this event, I knew I couldn’t miss it or casually opt out. This was my first healthcare hackathon so, I didn’t really know how to prepare (compared to a tech focused hackathon where I can think of ways to use the sponsors software or devices). I planned to enthusiastically join a team and devote my services at the MIT Hacking Medicine competition.

Day 1 of Grand Hack, I arrived early and as I’ve learned at past hackathons, I have to jump right in and just start networking. I was at MIT, (there was no harm to networking with every professional in site.) I sparked up a conversation with one of the sponsors and it was actually her first hackathon so, after hearing that I’m a veteran/ ‘expert’ hackathoner, she asked me for some advice. This was surprisingly a reoccurring conversation. It was many participants first hackathon so, after learning that this was not my first rodeo, people would lay out a set of beginner hackathon questions that I was happy to share my insight on. MIT Hacking Medicine was different so, I’ll tell you why this was many attendees first hackathon (being that you would expect MIT to recruit a plethora of hackathon experts). The Grand Hack team pulled a very diverse pool of talent to make this event medical focused. Only 20% of the attendees were your traditional programming software engineers. The other 80% were clinicians, doctors, medical students, venture capitalist, techies, and more!

To top that diversity, there were 20 countries present. I ended up meeting a young doctor from Ireland! My table alone had 6 countries represented.

After the introduction of the Grand Hack team and the sponsors, it was time for team pitching and forming. For Day 1, there is no time to waste. I had to keep reminding myself that when I would sit down and not introduce myself to the stranger next to me. It took me a little bit to warm up but, I shook hands with my seat strangers and asked about people’s backgrounds. 1) Because I was curious and 2) Because I was scoping out who I’d want on my team. Many of these medical professionals and engineers did not end up on my team but, they ended up being people to talk to the next 48 hours and later LinkedIn contacts to call on for future reference.
The teams were pitched and I narrowed my options down to three teams. I spoke to each presenter of those three teams and decided to join one of the engineers who was an employee of a company that was sponsoring the hackathon, Validic.

Day 2) long story short for Day 2 was that we spent hours brainstorming and walking around our original idea. All the while, we had 4-6 mentors come by and offer their insight. It wasn’t until 10PM did the lightbulbs go off and we decided to run with our idea.

Day 3) The mentors from yesterday checked in with us to see our growth. Our mentors included; an Emergency Medicine doctor from Massachusetts, a representative from the TCMx accelerator, a venture capitalist, another clinician, and a healthcare entrepreneur. Thank you Grand Hack team for offering the services of 100+ professionals and experts in the healthcare industry. I mean, they got doctors to take a whole weekend to help a bunch of college kids with ‘pie in the sky’ ideas. Having time with just 6 of those 100+ mentors was an invaluable opportunity that I hope I took full advantage of. Time with these mentors not only evolved our project for the competition but, it also helped out the mentors. The mentors and participants networked, saw how each other worked in teams (aka future job opportunities here and future program participants, etc.), and overall everyone walked away learning or gaining something new.

This competition exposed me to the innovative side of the healthcare industry as a mechanical engineer and opened me up to a community that could aide in bringing my ideas further. Spending the weekend at MIT for Grand Hacks was definitely a spark in my early engineering career and I know it will help me later down the road.  

Resources used during this hackathon:
Datasets from: Allscripts, Intersystems, and more.

Grammarly yours, SemirahD

Previous post in my Women Engineer in Training series:
WeCode Harvard 2016: A gathering of really cool women engineers
NSBE42 Convention: Sharing tips to excel academically and professionally 
BostonHacks: My intro to using wearable technology (aka Fitbits/Garmins/etc. for non-fitness uses)
NSBE Biz Competition Video: Watch me on Youtube!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

16 Steps to Preparing for a Conference

In March 2016 I attended the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Boston. Since I attended as a collegiate member but also as an ambassador for 2 tech companies, I had to make sure that I prepared as much as I could pre-conference. 

For the NSBE convention specifically, my pre-planning resulted in; onsite interviews, networking event invitations, job offers, and presentation opportunities.

Comment below if there's a specific strategy that you use to prepare for conferences. 

  1.  Get the conference schedule as soon as possible and start to chart where you should invest your time. If you are attending a workshop, also put together productive questions to ask the presenter.
  2. Check on social media to see if anyone is posting about the conference ahead of time. This gives you a chance to network before you even get to the conference and therefore saving time! The conference most likely has a hashtag that you can check.  
  3.  Look for opportunities that you can pursue ahead of time. For example, submitting your resume to a company’s database (Many companies now tell students to apply online and don’t collect paper resumes so, save time and effort with this step), chances to schedule an interview for the conference, chances to self-promote, competitions, etc.
  4.  Take advantage of the free information online and do your research on attendees. Checking out someone’s site or twitter feed can give you insight that they are promoting a business opportunity you’ve been looking for or that they are interested in the same passions as you.
  5.  Stay up to date on relevant industry news. If you are attending a business conference, check out the sponsors recent news or stock activity. If you are attending an engineering conference, read up on the latest technology and any groundbreaking work that may be a great conversation started to show how involved you are in your industry.
  6. Do your research on the sponsors/recruiters so that you know who you do and don’t need to invest time in.
  7. Make sure you’ve taken care of your current work or to-do list. Try to complete everything and more since you’ll be devoting a lot of time to this event and will possibly even need to rest up post-conference.
  8. Update your online profiles because, after networking people will be looking you up and seeing what you're all about. You want to make sure your online presence is positive.
  9. If you are interested in networking or connecting, make that known. Tweet or post with the conference hashtag with a call to action. Like, “Hey #NSBE42! I’ll be at the Google networking event if you’re interested in connecting about Virtual Reality tech!”.
  10. Use TweetDeck to schedule strategic tweets. You want to be present during conference. Having your mind on your social media strategy takes away from the information and opportunities being presented to you at the conference.
  11. (The night before) Charge your back-up battery if you’ll be taking a lot of photos or using your phone for the conference app.
  12. Order relevant and fresh business cards. I was networking with a company that I was interviewing for and towards the end both recruiters wanted to give me business cards but, didn’t have any on them. I had mine and they were super impressed! Moreover, my cards were good quality and reflected me as a professional.
    Candid photo of Semirah presenting at the NSBE Fire Pit Business Competition and placing Top 3!
  13. If you have a presentation or pitch to give at the conference, practice practice practice! Conferences are usually where people come to see the best practices, network, and exchange advise/opportunities. You don’t want to be written off because you wasted everyone’s time with an unproductive presentation.
  14. If you see someone you want to network with, do it! There’s no time like the present. Also, if this is an event that people have to travel to, it’s going to be really hard to connect with someone you didn’t speak with post-conference. You don’t want to regret a missed connection. You will probably see them next year but, people and situations change so take advantage of the present.
  15. Plan your wardrobe. I brought all of my outfits for the NSBE convention from Banana Republic. It was such a time saver to just pull out a hanger from my wardrobe bag and have my outfit all ready and ironed. Even prepare your evening party outfits.
  16.  Research last year’s conference and the opportunities that may also be available this year. If Twitter hosted a hackathon last year with awesome prizes then, see if that is the case for this year as well.
Grammarly yours, SemirahD

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Are you into Hackathons?? Me too! Read more here

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Women Engineer in Training: BostonHacks 2015 Hackathon

BostonHacks was a hackathon that I attended October 2015. I've been a beta tester for Microsoft's Azure software ever since then and wanted to share my hackathon experience with you all. 

My Project Learning Outcomes from BostonHacks:

What did I do? My team and I worked on a textbased videogame integrated with the Microsoft band and with a Halloween creepy theme. 

My task was to work on the integration of the Microsoft Band to the game. The Microsoft band is a fitness wearable, similar to the Fitbit. So after playing around with the band, I went to a Microsoft Band workshop hosted by one of the Microsoft engineers to get an idea of how to get started and the band features. 

Here are some quick snapshots from the Intro to Microsoft Band workshop:

Microsoft Band

The Microsft Band is wearable tech with a touch screen displayand 10 sensors . Probably works similar to the Apple Watch.

Microsoft Band

The Microsoft Band does have the capabilty to connect to your phone (assuming phones with Windows or Andriod phones only?). So if you wanted an Apple Watch but you have the new Galaxy, then try out the Microsoft band. 

Microsoft Band

The slide above is a description of the 10 sensors that the band has.  If you want to do a route tracker (i.e. map my run) you need to use a mobile application (i.e. Runkeeper, etc.), because the band doesn’t have GPS capabilities. 

Microsoft Band

This final slide is a list of resources that I could use during the hackathon to be eligible for specific prizes but also complete my project. I ended up using Microsoft Azure and winning a prize for the site I created with Azure.

Notes about the Microsoft Band:

What is it?

  • The main fuction of the band is to take in data and send out data.
  •  My team must build an app that runs on a PC to take advantage of all of the bands features. Building a web app would make it quicker to store data and finish front end development within the 24 hours of the hackathon.
  • Band runs on Bluetooth to connect with your device.
  • Data collected from the band can be analyzed and sent to cloud for later usage. My team wanted to optimize this feature, which is another reason to build a web app versus a mobile app... easier access to cloud storage.
  • The text based videogame can do vibrations (cool idea: Morse code messages or spurts of vibration to creep out players and connect with the Halloween theme)
  • Microsoft band application idea:
“MAN GPS”; Watch vibrates for men to know directions given from phone (1 vibrate = left, 2 vibrates= right). Men don’t ask for directions so, increase your masculinity by not even having to track a GPS on your phone. Look like a man that keeps track of time for his oh-so-important business schedule by, having a watch that guides you instead of a phone map. Map is connected to phone through Bluetooth.

My Halloween costume during the hackathon. AKA a random dress in my closet with a masquerade mask XOXO

One of my team mates and I with free web domains

Microsoft put together software development kits (SDK) for: ios, andriod, and windows. If you are interested in developing a web application, Microsoft has a cloud to store data in as well. 

However, I was surprised to find out that the band is not provided with gesture/movement sensors. Kind of like a Wii remote, the sensors that can track if the user is waving in a specific direction. To achieve such capabilities, I found a Stack overflow site (, this article will help you to:
  1. Recognize gesture on the Microsoft band
  2. Program the gestures ourselves
  3. Look up band SDKs and use sample code to get started
In the end, I had multiple complications with the Microsoft software development kits and was not able to connect the band to our game. However, this conclusion was made after seeking guidance from the Microsoft reps at BostonHacks and asking everyone at the hackathon, who was also using the Microsoft Band, if they were able to get anything work. It was easy to connect with all the teams because, there were only 10 bands being used and not one team could successfully implement the band. So, BostonHacks was a learning experience.

My BostonHacks Team, awesome ladies! When I go to hackathons, I always join teams with people that I don't know and thankfully, my experiences have been productive and positive! Quite frankly, also inspiring! An all-women hacking team...?! Women Engineers in Training!

Comment below: Do you use a fitbit, Microsoft Band, or Apple Watch? What's your fave feature?

Grammarly yours, SemirahD

HackUMass with the Oculus Rift videogame
JP Morgan Chase & Co Hackathon with Web Development
Harvard WeCode Hackathon

Monday, March 7, 2016

Women Engineer in Training: WeCode Harvard 2016

I am a campus ambassador for WeCode Harvard and as a 2nd year attendee, this year was special. From attending last year, I learned how to successfully maneuver the conference. 

The Harvard Women in CS committee made this year's conference different by implementing an innovation challenge instead of a conference wide challenge (which my group placed 3rd in last year). Since the main focus of the conference wasn't hacking any code, solving puzzles, or competing; I knew that I could focus my time on networking. 

You know those people that don't attend the workshops or miss keynote speakers because, they are having deep conversations in the hallways with sponsors? I used to think that was the most unproductive use of time at a conference, especially if you're paying a hefty price for the entry ticket. I thought that the workshops and speakers were the most valuable aspects of a conference but, sometimes you can pick your adventure.

I found out the deep conversation and inquisitive people are creating bonds, relationships, and connections that will benefit them after the conference. These are the people who probably don't struggle with that crucial 'follow up' aspect of networking. They have more material to use to connect with someone they conversed with for an hour compared to your handshake and fangirl photo (don't get me wrong, those are great too!). 
LOL speaking of fan girl photos: I have some more photos on my Instagram here

Get updates on Women engineers and me at Sound of Charm's facebook

Advice for college interns, co-ops, new hires... The relationship you will have amongst your team & co-workers will go from; service, respect, to trust - Michelle Luo (works at Google & second person from the right in the 1st photo). 

I'm currently experiencing this theory during my co-op at Johnson and Johnson. Starting off, your main reason for being hired is to work. You're being trained and are given (what I think are classified as:) "tester" assignments. As a new hire, your boss wants to see what you can do. Once you successfully deliver, you bump up to a respect relationship and then advance from their. 

Advice for freshman or new engineers... It's going to be hard and you're going to want to quit but don't, it builds character. 
(creds to: Product Manager WeCode workshop panel) 

If you need any tips or motivation, feel free to reach out to me! I have a Women Engineer in Training series to share my story and motivate other lady engineers so, join the party here.

XOXO Semirah
 +Semirah Dolan

And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing

Laura Butler and I
Laura is a Technical Fellow, Director of Engineering Windows Fundamentals at Microsoft

Here is some advice the Technical Goddess shared with us at WeCode Harvard 2016:

1. "Power is taken not given. 
You get authority by acting like you have it." 

AKA Fake it till you Make it. 

2. "I have world domination plans" 
When Laura said this my friend and I looked at each other and smiled in agreement because, we are both ambitious ladies with CEO domination plans. However, I don't have a dream board or physical plan, which I would like to create.

Tracy Chou and I
Software Engineer at Pinterest

 Julie Elberfeld from Capital One 
With Capitol One and Goldman Sachs being some the main sponsors, it's quite clear that the finance industry is RSVP'ing to the Techies Club. Big investment firms and banking companies are looking for engineers to bring innovation and tech to finance. Hmm... that explains why I attended a J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. hackathon in Florida last month! 

During WeCode, the sponsors hosted 'Lounges' and had a variety of activities. Capitol One had an ah-mazing lounge! They had DIY tassel keychains. I made two and I love them! Microsoft had a painting activity which, was great for slowing down from the hustle of workshops and events. Plus my friends and I got to network with some Microsoft ladies. 

One of my most productive lounge visits was with Goldman Sachs. I arrived early and ate breakfast with the Goldman Sachs team while building Lego structures. Little secret: the other attendees weren't aware that the sponsor lounges were open so my friends and I basically had an exclusive breakfast with the Goldman Sachs team. I greatly appreciated being able to introduce myself to their team and then hearing their engineering career stories. Goldman Sachs had a diverse team representing them at WeCode, with an industrial engineer, software developer, and more!

I will definitely be an annual attendee of this conference until I graduate. 

Grammarly yours, SemirahD

P.S. Check out my engineering internship interview on my school's official website:

Here is last year's WeCode post:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wellenstyn Winter Jacket Review

As a farewell to winter, here is a shoutout and review to Wellenstyn. A toast to the best, 5 star jacket on the market. Enjoy some pictures of my brother in his Wellenstyn jacket. He loves and flaunts this jacket. The large amount of pockets for storing things and the warmness. It's so toasty inside!

Peep the sharpness and structure of the material. He could blend in doing anything from walking the red carpet, attending a winter wedding, or running some errands out in town.  

+Gizmodo thought that they found the "Ultimate Urban Winter Jacket"... well obvious that status needs to be updated with the introduction of the +Wellensteyn jackets to the New England market.

Men: I'm not sure what you care to know about in a jacket. But from what my brother and friends rave about, I can definitely share that this jacket is well worth the splurge! The quality is over the top ah-mazing, it's low maintenance, (with such high quality) it's bound to work for years, and it's super convenient.

And ladies: Wellenstyn also has uber adorable styles for us. The same benefits that the men have in their Wellenstyn jackets, we get and more. Meaning... we get cute colors, extra fluff, and additional adorableness to make walking around in fluffy winter jackets less 'snowman like' and more 'runway model like'.

Grammarly yours, SemirahD

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