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Teaching Tomorrow’s Tech Professionals

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) Foundation believes that in today’s world it’s never too early for girls to learn more about technology, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan agrees. That’s why MCWT created Camp Infinity, a week-long event designed to teach middle and high school-aged girls about a wide range of tech-related topics and inspire them to enter the IT field.

Introducing Young Women to IT

The MCWT is a collective of women working in technology with a shared mission to elevate other women in the tech industry at all stages of their careers, from school-aged girls to established professionals. They act on the belief that women belong in IT, and the industry is a better place for it.

A diverse IT workforce is a vital part of Michigan’s transformation and future growth. Through mentoring, leadership development and networking for all ages — from youth summer camps and events, to college and graduate school scholarships, to professional networking and more – MCWT is dedicated to nurturing technology-oriented women.

Inspiring Tomorrow’s IT Professionals

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, MCWT converted Camp Infinity into a Summer Virtual Learning Series covering many tech-related topics, including cybersecurity. Blue Cross IT was proud to sponsor one of these summer sessions to provide insight into online security. Discussion covered everything from how computers and networks function to the fundamentals of hacking and cyber safety.  To help give the girls who participated a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of cybersecurity, the Enterprise Information Security (EIS) team from Blue Cross IT shared their knowledge, tips and hacks.

Speakers from the EIS team covered a wide range of topics that were user-friendly enough to help even those who are just beginning their journey into IT gain a solid base of understanding of good cyber safety practices.

An interactive presentation gave the girls invaluable information that will help them make smarter choices about their online activity, and hopefully inspire them to pursue a career in IT.

With so many ways for hackers to take advantage of users these days, it’s imperative to educate kids about these risks before they become victims of a scam. “Once you hit send, there’s no getting [your information] back,” warned EIS presenter Ethan Smith. Presenter Paul Horvath gave the girls similar advice: “Something you post today can impact you and your career later on.”

Online Security in Today’s World

It wouldn’t quite be a technology-focused event without an element of digital interaction. MCWT and the Blue Cross IT Team created multiple digital activities, such as quizzes and polls, that the girls were able to participate in during the presentations. This participation helped engage them in the topics to ultimately absorb more of the information. The topics covered during the session included such things as:

  • Digital footprints
  • Cell phone security
  • Social media scams
  • Catfishing/Vishing/Phishing

The camp attendees were also able to see real-life examples of phishing emails versus regular emails to help them understand how to identify potential threats. With so many different types of phishing scams out there, it’s important to be vigilant about what you share and what you interact with online. Speaker Justin Woods tried to impress that importance on the girls. “Be careful what you share, as it may come back to scam you,” Woods said.

Another speaker demonstrated exactly how much personal information exists online that you might not even be aware of. A cursory example Google search of a person showed the girls sensitive data such as addresses and school or work details that were available online. “You can control some of your digital footprint,” said Kim Hicks, but some of it populates itself.

This Blue Cross IT-sponsored course at Camp Infinity was one of many courses throughout the week that helped the girls gain a better understanding of the IT world. With speakers from across the technology industry, the attendees benefited from a wealth of tech information that will help them in their futures.

This virtual event was just one of a series that MCWT held this summer to encourage today’s young women to pursue technology and help them make better choices online. Learn more about MCWT and Camp Infinity here.

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Photo credit: Unsplash

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