How can you build your tech resilience?
Resilience, or the ability to recover quickly from challenges, is an essential part of success in any field. That’s why Microsoft, along with its new digital skills initiative, is developing a tech resilience curriculum to help build a more inclusive future for the tech industry.
Now more than ever, we live in a digital world where digital skills are in high demand. According to LinkedIn, there’ll be 150 million new technology jobs in the next five years. And the fastest-growing skills on LinkedIn this year include programming and digital marketing. Clearly, tech skills matter—which is why Microsoft announced an initiative to help 25 million people of all ages and backgrounds develop the digital skills they need.
But it takes more than just tech to succeed. Confidence. Emotional intelligence. A sense of belonging. Problem solving. Communication. Resilience in overcoming challenges. These aren’t just buzzwords. They’re vital, and students rarely learn them in school alongside STEM or computer science. To help students and educators build these skills, Microsoft is developing a series of mentoring toolkits.
“Everyone should learn about emotional intelligence, because whether they know it or not, they will be asked to exercise it regularly.”
– Miya Natsuhara, Software Engineer, Microsoft
The reality is, for many students, tech-driven fields can be intimidating. When they get stuck or lack support, they drop out before ever having a chance to succeed—regardless of their abilities. The result is a smaller and less diverse workforce in tech.
Those who make it past these barriers during their educational journey can end up feeling excluded by workplace cultures that don’t match their own backgrounds and experiences. Far too many talented people avoid choosing or actively decide to leave tech because it can be unwelcoming.
Our mission? To help build a more inclusive future for the tech industry by fostering confidence, resilience, and a sense of belonging.
Watch: 10 lessons for building tech resilience
In partnership with students and experts in mentorship, computer science education, and organizational psychology from Mount Holyoke College, we created a set of curricula to teach these critical skills.
Hear from students who took part in a pilot mentoring program and engaged with our curricula in development. Here, they share what they learned and how they’re working to overcome their own doubts and challenges to thrive in tech.
Angel: Finding a sense of belonging in tech
Growing up in Nigeria, Angel was fascinated by technology. But when she had a chance to join a school robotics team, she chose to be an admin, intimidated by the experienced all-male team. “I was dying with curiosity about what they were doing. It looked like magic … They were talking in tech, and I couldn’t even understand that,” she says. “Looking back, they didn’t do anything I couldn’t have done.”
At Mount Holyoke College, Angel was Pre-med, but realized this was her chance: “It’s now or never. I’m either going to do CS or keep dreaming about it. My second semester, I said let’s jump in and see how it goes. It wasn’t dipping my toe in slowly or climbing into the shallow end. I ran all the way to the deep end and cannonballed in.” She’s now a double major in CS and Sociology.
While the shift to distance learning has made it difficult to keep pace, Angel isn’t letting that break her stride. Microsoft’s curricula gave her the opportunity to talk frankly with peers and more experienced people in the industry, which has made her feel less alone. “With watching the videos, what happens is that you recognize, ‘Oh my gosh I see myself in this!’” says Angel, “and I see the strategies I can use to address what I’m feeling.”
Haya: Overcoming doubts with growth mindset
Growing up in Boulder, Co., Haya’s first love was math: “Math was my one true passion. If you left me with nothing but math problems, I’d be happy till I die.” But when her family moved to Silicon Valley when she was 12, she found herself facing an identity crisis: “Everyone there was good at math and CS. It was no longer something where I was the star or the best. That was difficult to overcome.”
As a student at Mount Holyoke College, Haya found her community and her majors. Math was an easy call, but she hesitated with Computer Science. She was surprised to find that students in the major were plagued with self-doubt. “I didn’t have a single friend in CS who hasn’t experienced some self-doubt.” As a confident person, Haya was thrown for a loop.
She believes that the curricula is powerful because “it’s a way of identifying self-doubt quickly.” She adds, “It took me 7 years to see it … this training can tackle it in a few weeks.”
Thomas: Discovering the power of self-efficacy
Thomas’s love for computers started young. “In first grade, the teacher asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Everyone said, I want to be an astronaut or a doctor. I was the kid who said, ‘I want to be a computer programmer.’” In high school, Thomas got his first taste of basic Computer Science, and he was hooked.
But a self-proclaimed geek, Thomas also saw that college was a chance to “find new friends, be a new person, and press restart.” At UMass-Amherst, he focused on his health and social well-being. That paid dividends when the reality of majoring in CS set in: “The difficult things right out of the gate were impostor syndrome and never feeling good enough, like there’s always a bigger fish.”
Working at his school’s Careers Office, Thomas believes the Microsoft curricula can play a vital role in helping students learn those life skills that help them roll with the punches and stay in the game long enough to land a career: “It tackles problems like impostor syndrome and self-efficacy—skills no one addresses in formal CS classes.”
For the students of the future to be successful, long before they are faced with self-doubt or impostor syndrome, we will need to better prepare them. The hope is that with the right tools, it’s possible to support the next generation of students for the jobs of tomorrow while inspiring their resilience and sense of belonging today.
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For any questions, get in touch with us here.
Thanks to our colleagues at Mount Holyoke College and MetaView Mentors for their leadership and collaboration.