A student from Grantham’s love of STEM from a young age laid the early foundations for the role she has today as one of a small number of women in the UK who have been selected for a prestigious bursary from Amazon.
Emily Liu, 19, is studying Computer Science at Kings College London and is one of six female students in the UK chosen to receive the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary each academic year.
Emily’s passion for STEM began early, but it wasn’t until she set her eyes on Kings College London that she realised her true calling was tech.
“I was always interested in STEM. From a young age, I loved playing with computers, but I didn’t actually think that IT could be a career path for me” the local woman explained.
“Technology never felt like a career choice. I avoided the technical subjects and focused on subjects that could lead me to a career in business or finance. Thankfully, as I got a little older, I realised that I could have a career in technology.”
Emily almost missed the chance to make it on to the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary scheme, but a late-night check of her emails led to a chance encounter with the programme.
“It all happened really quickly. I was clearing out my emails one night, and I came across an email from my department. The deadline for applications to the bursary programme was that evening and I quickly applied. A few weeks later I received an email saying congratulations! It was such a wonderful surprise.”
The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary offers funding of between £3,500 and £7,500 per year to a female student from a low-income household attending one of the three universities which neighbour its three UK Development Centres, including the University of Edinburgh, Kings College London and Churchill College in the University of Cambridge.
As well as the bursary helping with Emily’s living costs over the four years of her degree, Amazon will also provide mentoring on business skills like CV-building and interview techniques, as well as a potential work placement at Amazon’s Development Centre in London.
Emily is now going into the second year of her degree at Kings College London and says the support of Amazon is a huge boost for her career path.
“Amazon is such an innovative company and, with its support, I can pursue a rewarding career in tech. I love tech because everything I will do in the field will be for the future. I’m also excited about having a dedicated mentor. I’m the first person in my family to go into technology, so I don’t really have any mentors in that sense. It’s invaluable to my studies and career progress.”
Although she may be at the beginning of her career path, Emily is particularly interested in cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is a very important sector that most people forget about. The WannaCry ransomware last year affected more than 200,000 computers. It’s an important sector that gets overlooked, which is why I want to get involved in securing software so that it is safe to use.”
Emily believes that more women should pursue careers in areas that they are passionate in.
“I would definitely encourage women to pursue STEM subjects. A lot of people are interested in STEM but, because of gender disparity and imbalance, they are deterred from going into the field. Women are under-represented in STEM subjects and careers, but this is something that I hope will change in time. If more women are encouraged to embrace STEM subjects, there will be more mentors who can inspire them to join the industry.”
During the programme, Emily will have the opportunity to undertake a work placement at Amazon’s Development Centre in east London.
Amazon’s UK Development Centres build Amazon innovations used by customers around the world, including:
- Supporting product development and design from East London for web and mobile applications used for Prime Video
- The use of machine learning science in Edinburgh to power Amazon’s smart features in multiple languages like personalised recommendations
- The development in Cambridge of Alexa, the cloud-based voice service, and Prime Air, a delivery system designed to safely deliver parcels to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles.
Michael Luck, Dean of the School of Informatics at the Kings College London added, “Kings College London is proud to continue its partnership with Amazon for the Women in Innovation Bursary, providing funding, mentoring and the potential for work placements for female students. I hope that the support provided by the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary will encourage more women to consider a career in innovation and apply for this funding to help them achieve their goals. The tech sector urgently needs greater diversity. I’d like to congratulate Emily on completing her first year of the programme and wish her all the best in her studies this year.”
For more information on the Amazon Women In Innovation bursary visit: https://www.aboutamazon.co.uk/amazon-in-the-community/helping-female-students-into-stem-careers-with-amazon-women-in-innovation-bursary