Club Spotlight – Foster Tech Club

In this feature, the outgoing president of the Foster Tech Club Nilisha Soni shares her journey leading the club over the last year, and her tips for incoming students. 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering and have worked as a Software Engineer specializing in Backend Development. Additionally, I have experience as a Technical Content Strategist in the EdTech industry.

I am a first-generation graduate student and the first woman from my hometown to pursue higher education in the United States. I am a strong advocate for women’s education and rights, constantly striving to make a positive impact in this area.

Beyond academics and work, I have achieved recognition as a State Level Basketball player and have won various dance competitions at the national level with my undergraduate dance team. I am always drawn to outdoor activities and am slowly picking up hiking in Washington. As a personal hobby, I am currently learning digital art, allowing me to explore my creative side. Looking ahead, I will be returning full-time to Dell as a Senior Advisor (Product Management).

What role does the Tech Club aim to play? 

Tech club is dedicated to empowering students from diverse backgrounds on their journey in the tech industry. We are committed to fostering connections, providing valuable resources, and disseminating information to enhance their technological knowledge. With a strong focus on inclusivity, our club aims to bridge the gap between aspiring individuals and the ever-evolving world of technology.

Tech club members visiting Adobe

Adobe tech trek

What unique role does the Tech Club play in promoting students’ goals at Foster? 

Through our initiatives, we actively foster an environment where people can connect with like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and forge lasting professional relationships. Our club serves as a comprehensive resource hub, offering a wealth of information and support for students navigating the tech landscape. We strive to equip our members with the tools they need to excel, whether it’s through workshops, mentorship programs, or access to industry insights.

The club goes above and beyond in helping students recruit within the tech industry by providing support with resume revision and interview prep. We leverage our strong wealth of experience as a community and bring together experienced professionals to guide students interested in the tech industry.

How has your club influenced the continued evolution of the Foster MBA program?

The Foster MBA program is home to numerous ambitious students who aspire to pursue rewarding careers in the thriving tech industry. Our club wholeheartedly embraces the responsibility of accelerating students’ growth and propelling them towards the achievement of their goals.

We understand that navigating the dynamic landscape of the tech industry can be both challenging and exhilarating. Therefore, our club serves as a dedicated support system, offering a wide range of resources and opportunities tailored to the unique needs of MBA students pursuing tech-related paths. Through a carefully curated lineup of events, workshops, and networking opportunities, we foster an environment of continuous learning and professional development. Our aim is to equip students with the necessary skills, knowledge, and connections to excel in the ever-evolving tech sector. By facilitating direct engagement with industry professionals, we provide students with invaluable insights into the nuances of the tech industry. From guest speaker sessions featuring esteemed leaders to interactive panel discussions and company visits, we ensure that students have access to firsthand experiences and expertise.

Tech trek to Indeed

Tech trek to Indeed

Which of Tech Club’s events have been most popular or successful and why?

Husky Hackathon, our highly anticipated annual event, serves as a remarkable platform that unites prominent industry leaders, professionals, and UW students. During this event, they act as mentors and judges, providing invaluable guidance and support to students from across the University of Washington as they present their innovative ideas for a better future.

Tech treks are an exceptional opportunity for students to explore various regions and companies, enabling them to cultivate meaningful relationships with industry experts. These treks play a pivotal role in expanding students’ networks and gaining practical insights into the inner workings of different organizations.

At our vibrant alumni mixers, we bring together accomplished alumni and current students, fostering an environment conducive to forging strong connections and networking. This unique gathering not only facilitates professional growth but also creates a sense of community and mentorship among individuals at different stages of their tech careers.

Our engaging speaker series offers students the chance to connect with distinguished industry professionals. By attending these events, students gain valuable knowledge about emerging technologies and real-world applications, providing them with a competitive edge in their academic and professional endeavors.

To further enhance students’ readiness for tech roles, our mock interview series offers them a platform to practice and refine their interviewing skills. This valuable experience not only boosts their confidence but also equips them with the necessary expertise to excel in interviews and secure coveted positions in the tech industry.

Together, these initiatives empower students with the resources, skills, and connections they need to thrive in the ever-evolving world of technology, ensuring a bright and successful future for each participant.

Tech club members at VM Ware HQ

Tech club members at VMWare

What have you learned about leadership while in this role?

As the President of tech club, the lessons in leadership I’ve learned surpass the knowledge gained from any course or certification. Throughout my journey, I have come to understand the paramount importance of empathy, patience, and unwavering commitment in fulfilling the role of a leader.

By embracing empathy, I have been able to connect with our community on a personal level. This deep understanding allowed us to shape the club’s programming to cater to the specific needs and aspirations of our members. Building relationships has proven to be an invaluable tool in fostering the growth of our club. By nurturing connections with individuals, industry professionals, and organizations, we create a network of support that benefits our members and the club. These relationships serve as a catalyst for collective growth and enable us to forge partnerships that enhance our programming and opportunities.

Managing a board composed entirely of volunteers requires an additional level of patience and effort. Recognizing and understanding the unique needs of each vice president is crucial in translating their aspirations and concerns into actionable plans. By actively listening and providing support, I tried to ensure that the board members feel valued and empowered, enabling them to contribute their best efforts towards the club’s success.

This position taught me many leadership lessons. By embracing empathy, fostering relationships, and effectively managing a board, I strived to cultivate a strong and cohesive community that thrives on shared goals, personal growth, and the collective advancement of our members.

AWS Tech Trek

AWS Tech Trek

What were your expectations and intentions as you took on the role? Did your experience line up? What has been enjoyable? Challenging? Surprising?

Entering into this position, I initially underestimated the extent of its responsibilities. However, the experience turned out to be incredibly rewarding. As one of the largest clubs in the program, the expectations placed upon us were substantial. We were constantly striving to meet the evolving needs of our community and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the tech industry.

During a period of economic downturn in the tech industry, we went above and beyond to provide additional recruiting support and tailored our programming to align with the economic landscape. It was a challenge, but it was gratifying to witness the positive impact our efforts had on the MBA community.

I firmly believe that every role comes with its unique set of challenges, and this position was no exception. However, what made it truly fulfilling was the opportunity to collaborate with my peers and invest my time and effort into something that benefited a significant portion of the MBA community. The joy I experience when facilitating new connections or creating opportunities for others is immeasurable. Knowing that my work contributes to their career growth makes it all worthwhile.

Do you have a favorite memory of your time with the Club?

During my transition into the role of President of the Tech club, I was working as a first-year representative for marquee events, specifically organizing the hackathon. It was a remarkable experience to witness the full circle moment this year when we welcomed new leadership who took charge of organizing the hackathon, while I provided support behind the scenes. As I stood there in the room alongside my EVP, Malav Patel, capturing pictures of the new leadership team and the enthusiastic participants of the hackathon, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Clicking those pictures symbolized not just a moment captured in time, but also the spirit of camaraderie and growth that the club represents.

Husky hackathon 2022

Husky hackathon 2022

How have you worked with other clubs or UW Graduate Schools to provide networking opportunities?

Throughout the year, our tech club has fostered meaningful collaborations with multiple other clubs, uniting our efforts to achieve shared goals and engage a larger part of the community. By partnering with clubs such as Net-Impact, Women in Business, Level-Up, and Strategy, we have created a diverse and inclusive environment that encompasses various perspectives and areas of interest.

What tips do you have for incoming MBA students as to why they should join the Tech Club’s leadership?

Joining tech club’s leadership presents an exceptional opportunity for you to embark on a journey filled with numerous benefits. It opens many doors to building meaningful relationships, exploring the latest advancements in technology, connecting with industry leaders, and in the process, making a significant impact on your community’s success. Being a leader in the tech club has provided me with invaluable insights and parallels to the real industry. One of the most remarkable aspects of the club is that it serves as a safe space where failure is embraced as an opportunity for growth and learning.