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Jarmila Novakova

My SWE Experience

“SWE definitely connects you with very energetic, very proactive people, with open minds. People who are really willing to help you and advise you.”​

How did you get involved with SWE?

In 2018, a colleague recommended that I go the WE Local conference which was in Prague that year, so I checked the programme and I found it very interesting. What struck me was that until I was at the conference, I hadn’t realised that I needed such a group of people, to be able to experience an environment with lots of women working in similar roles as I do.

Jarmila Musil Novakova

Job Title & Company: Leader of Electronics, Kostal Engineering CR

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Nationality: Czech

Academic Background: Biomedical Engineering and Bioinformatics

Years in SWE: since 2018

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What is it that makes SWE valuable for you?

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For me, the most valuable thing is the people there, the network. My working environment is majority male, so when I’m at SWE events, I feel the people there are – as we say in the Czech Republic, “similar to my blood type”. We say that when we are with people we feel really connected with. We can discuss a lot of topics from a different perspective than with male colleagues. So, for me, it is the feeling of being connected, seeing and feeling that they really understand what I say, how I am, what I am feeling – that is really valuable.

What kind of people does SWE connect you with?

SWE definitely connects you with very energetic, very proactive people, with open minds. People who are really willing to help you, advise you. When I come back from the SWE conference, I feel so energised and confident like I can do anything – like wonder woman! So, it’s really great and really unique. 

From the professional profile – you can meet anyone from STEM. People from biomedical, construction, automotive, software. Also, people in software but not in IT e.g., in communications, or helping their users – it’s a very wide range but we are connected by our background working in STEM.

“When I come back from the SWE conference, I feel so energised and confident like I can do anything – like wonder woman!”

What do you find most useful in the SWE learning platform?

For me, definitely the leadership part. You can find a lot of handy examples and advice there. Especially when you’re at the beginning of your leadership journey, you can rely on the platform to get some really good ideas on what to change or how to approach specific situations.

Can you tell us about the activities your local SWE affiliate provides in addition to the global membership offer?

Our affiliate primarily organises events, usually to support university students and sometimes also professionals.

For university students, for example, we came up with the idea for an event called “hack the job interview”. That gave students the chance to try a short job interview with a real manager. It was a unique experience for the students to have this opportunity.

The biggest thing we organise – which is in its second year now – is a national competition for the best female bachelor thesis from all STEM fields. It’s a big project and very time consuming, but you get to work with people who really put their heart into it and the outcome is very high quality and the quality is acknowledged by a lot of people, also outside the affiliate.

For professionals, we provide presentations on helpful or thought-provoking topics, for example, what it is like to work abroad or about black holes in the universe – very diverse and interesting career- or STEM-related things.

Jarka Posing
Jarmila (right) with the 2022 national competition winner of the best female bachelor thesis

What would you say to an experienced STEM professional wondering if SWE would be valuable to them?

When you’re in your day-to-day environment or within your company, you’re always riding the same rollercoaster or following a similar path. Meeting with the SWE community gives you fresh perspectives, it helps you to look at your challenges differently and to spot things inside you that you are capable of, but you didn’t see before.

“The SWE community gives you fresh perspectives, it helps you to look at your challenges differently and to spot things inside you that you are capable of, but you didn’t see before.”

What would you say to a university student in a STEM field wondering if SWE would be valuable to them?

For students, based on my experience and my work with the students here in CZ, students are in a very specific place with specific demands, which are usually completely different than the working environment. They often don’t have any perspective on what the workplace will be like.

SWE is a bridge that helps connect them to the professional experience. Students can connect directly with professionals in SWE. There is no need to go to a company or to a job fair, SWE provides an informal space to create bonds and relationships which can help, especially later when they are looking for work.

Students can get all kinds of help – how to search for a job, what it is like to work in a particular company, what does the day-to-day job involve, etc. These are all things that students generally don’t know, and universities aren’t equipped to help them with questions like that.

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