Hewitt News

Life After Hewitt: Careers in Technology Panel
Maya B. ’22 and Caroline B. ’22

Hosted by the Office of Alumnae Relations and the Hewitt Alumnae Council, our Life After Hewitt career panels invite small groups of alumnae working in a specific field to come together and speak about their time at Hewitt and the paths that led them to their current careers. These alumnae are confident and enthusiastic professionals who cite their relationships with teachers, involvement in clubs, and exploration of potential interests while at Hewitt with helping them to develop a sense of purpose and direction. They encourage upper school students to think about how to best take advantage of the learning experiences at Hewitt that will help shape our futures.

Our first Life After Hewitt panel brought together four alumnae working in finance. To create a second panel, we worked in partnership with the Hewitt Alumnae Council to invite five alumnae working in the field of technology. We prepared for our role as the panel’s student moderators by researching our speakers’ backgrounds and career trajectories and surveying our peers to find out what questions they had for our guests. We also worked with Director of Alumnae Relations Laura Gutiérrez Campbell, Coordinator of Experiential Initiatives Stephanie Dore, and the panelists to plan the logistics of the event. Using our knowledge of each speaker and the specific curiosities of Hewitt students, we developed thought-provoking questions about our panelists’ experiences, challenges, and successes at school and in their professional lives.

After completing a B.S. in computer science and classical studies at Swarthmore College, Nicole (Nicki) Feldbaum ’15 interned for Vimeo, where she currently works as an associate video engineer. Nicki is responsible for maintaining and improving the systems and services that upload, transcode, and deliver video. Jennifer Gorfine ’08 received a B.A. in communication from George Washington University and now works as a senior software engineer focusing on product accessibility at Zendesk. Jennifer inspired her sister, Amanda Gorfine ’11, to pivot from a career in hospitality to technology. Amanda holds a B.S. from University of Delaware, and currently works for Hummingbird as a technical customer success manager. Susannah Meyer ’15 graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in computer science. After several years working at Facebook, she is now a senior software engineer at Clearing, a digital healthcare platform. Working in the Fintech space, Shanniece Reid-Lewis ’10 is a delivery lead manager at Capital One, where she manages teams of software designers, developers, and clients in order to successfully implement internal products that improve the firm's commercial banking process. She received a B.S. in international business and marketing from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Each of our five alumnae panelists spoke about how the Hewitt community helped support and cultivate their early interest in learning and logic. For example, Nicki and Susannah shared that when they entered high school, Mr. Erik Nauman (an educational technologist and mentor to many Hewitt students who are interested in programming, coding, and technology) encouraged them to take the two programming classes Hewitt offered at the time. According to Nicki, these courses “ignited [her] interest in computer science and were extremely helpful in preparing [her] to take [her] first computer science courses in college.” Hewitt’s educational technology and STEAM programs have grown exponentially since our panelists graduated, and they shared their excitement and good-humored envy about the expanded opportunities current Hewitt students have to explore technology, including the middle and upper school VEX Robotics program and the lower school’s newly renovated STEAM Lab. Several faculty members, including Mr. Nauman, attended the panel, and this part of the conversation created an important sense of shared appreciation and respect from alumnae and current students for the impact our Hewitt teachers have had, and continue to have, on us. 

Although our alumnae panelists did not have access to quite as many incredible tech resources as we do today, they all left Hewitt with tangible skills that have proven valuable to their learning, work, and life. For example, several panelists noted that working in the field of technology, they rely heavily on the organizational skills they developed at Hewitt. They recalled how their teachers helped instill good organizational habits in every student’s daily routine, like the use of a planner to keep track of assignments and due dates. Though they didn’t see these skills as anything extraordinary when they were students, the panelists shared that as working professionals they have received specific praise from their managers for their impressive ability to manage their time and keep track of various projects and responsibilities. 

Over the course of the panel, the alumnae also spoke about how Hewitt encouraged them to pursue multiple passions and take pleasure in new challenges and discoveries. This is something we experience every day at Hewitt, where we have the opportunity to explore our interests by choosing classes and electives that feel personally meaningful to us. Hewitt high school students might compete with the Science Olympiad team while performing in the annual fall play, take two math classes and enroll in a robotics elective, or design their course load to include multiple English, history, or art history classes. The alumnae panelists stressed the value of continuing to pursue their personal passions beyond their high school years, noting that engaging with new ideas and curiosities helps them maintain a work-life balance and ensures they are constantly learning something new.

In addition to talking about the impact of their classes and teachers, our alumnae also noted the value of the supportive sisterhood they experienced at Hewitt. They spoke about the importance of relying on other women and recognizing that other women are depending on them, and shared that they have carried what they learned about female relationships and empowerment at Hewitt into the workforce and, specifically, the male-dominated field of technology. As Shanniece said, “The women around you -- in school and in the office -- are your allies...advocate and speak up for them.” The alumnae agreed that mutual female support has helped them speak with confidence in a room full of men, take ownership of their ideas, stand up for themselves, and deal with explicit and implicit misogyny. As current Hewitt students, we understand what it takes to build, maintain, and strengthen a female support system, and our alumnae panelists reminded us that the network of young women and female leaders we have developed here at Hewitt will continue to contribute to our personal growth even after we have graduated. 

A grid of seven screenshots from a Zoom call featuring five alumnae and two current Hewitt students

Five alumnae joined our student moderators via Zoom for a panel discussion about how Hewitt prepared them for careers in the tech industry