Q&A with 3M Diversity Scholar Governess Simpson
In 2017, 3M built on its outstanding commitment to boosting the number of underrepresented students pursuing STEM degrees by making a multi-million dollar pledge to the University of Minnesota. The 3M Diversity Scholarship in the College of Science and Engineering, which has supported more than 55 students since its launch, is one of the key initiatives funded by this pledge. We caught up with 3M Diversity Scholar Governess Simpson, a senior in the college, to learn more about her experience at the U and how much the scholarship has meant.
You’re majoring in industrial systems engineering with a minor in computer science. What drew you to this area of study?
I’ve switched majors a number of times. I initially thought I would go into computer science—it was the area I had spent the most time in, and I had always been interested in software. But I struggled with the coursework. I had imposter syndrome, and started thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be a software engineer.
I still wanted to work in tech and there were positions called product managers, which were in tech, but also incorporated business design and engineering. I thought industrial and systems engineering seemed like a good fit, and I picked up a computer science minor on top of it since I had already completed the coursework. It’s funny because today I no longer want to be a product manager. I actually still want to be a software engineer.
You mentioned “imposter syndrome” in your last answer. Can you talk more about what you mean by that?
For me, it’s that feeling of self doubt...that I don’t belong in this field, and that there are people more competent than me. I felt that way in computer science because I was struggling with the coursework. I had never coded before college and I wasn’t really a “science kid,” so taking STEM classes was challenging.
I started to think that I wasn’t supposed to be a software engineer, and I believed that for a really long time. It wasn’t until I started getting more internships, working in tech, and having these opportunities that I started telling myself that I actually am capable. I failed once, but it didn't stop me from getting up and trying again.
Are you involved in any internships right now?
I’m currently a program manager intern at Microsoft. It’s been a wonderful experience. It’s really a people management role. I've learned a lot about how to engage with people, ask the right questions, build mockups of a product, and scope a feature from the ground up.
Microsoft is a great organization. The people are very flexible and kind, and there's a lot of opportunity for growth. I don’t think I’ll continue to pursue program management because I don’t think it’s for me, but I’ve still loved the experience.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your time at the U?
For me, it’s all the communities I've been able to find and join. The possibilities have been endless!
I’m in an engineering fraternity and am really close friends with everyone there. I’m in a venture capital firm based in the Carlson School of Management, which is crazy because I never foresaw myself in that type of environment. I’m on a powerlifting team, and I’m also part of the Minnesota Student Association, which is the undergraduate student government on campus.
None of these things had crossed my mind before I came to the University of Minnesota! But the opportunities presented themselves and I've been able to kind of find myself, to see what I like and the people I want to be around.
What are your plans after graduation?
I see myself working as a software engineer or developer in the tech field. I love coding and programming, and hope to work for a tech organization where I can build something that makes a difference.
What has it meant to you to receive support from the 3M Diversity Scholarship these last few years?
It’s been tremendous! I would not have been able to go to the University of Minnesota without the 3M scholarship.
The scholarship has helped me have good financial footing. It makes it easier for me to not worry so much about finances while I’m in college. I have a job, but not because I need the money. I have a job because I like the work that I do and the experience I'm getting. It relieves a big financial burden!