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What mentoring our FUEL Hackathon winners means to me

  • Posted on May 8, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
What mentoring our FUEL Hackathon winners means to me

Our annual Avanade FUEL Innovation, Leadership, and Technology Conference is a global, virtual event, bringing together our Avanade STEM Scholars and interns from across North America, South America, Europe, Japan and Australia. I started my career as an intern, so when I saw that the team was looking for mentors to support the interns through the conference, I had no hesitation in volunteering. It reminded me of the kind people who helped me discover my career direction, technical passions and many opportunities for development. I wanted to be able to give back and do that for others.

It’s something that always came naturally to me! Since joining Avanade, I’ve had many opportunities to mentor and be mentored. Avanade creates a culture where people are very friendly and always willing to help each other out. In addition, there are many opportunities built into the culture. For example, with career advisers, buddies, partnerships with universities such as Yeshiva University and New Jersey Institute of Technology and the FUEL Conference. And when you can get advice and help from wonderful mentors and your company culture not only fosters it but promotes it in many spaces, you want to pass that on!

Fun fact: I took part in the first-ever FUEL Conference as an intern in 2019, and it was one of the highlights of the internship for me. It was a pivotal moment, learning something new and amazing each day. I was so inspired, and I realized that I could achieve my goals at Avanade. Seeing the best and the brightest of Avanade all in one week truly inspired me to become a full-time employee. I still have connections with now full-time employees I met as interns at the FUEL Conference, and I look back very fondly on those memories. It was truly a transformative experience!

Last summer during the FUEL Conference, I was on a panel for Future Leaders called "Starting Your Climb." I showcased the Jewish Employee Network: Every Name Counts project as a part of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) for Good panel and mentored two teams in the FUEL Hackathon.

One of the teams I mentored was SoilSync. I’m so proud of the team and how they presented their thinking and approach to senior leaders across Avanade and Microsoft, eventually getting selected out of 70 competing teams! Working with the group was incredibly inspiring – I saw them come into their own, grow their confidence and develop their ideas.

The SoilSync idea addresses a major real-world challenge, which is to find a more sustainable approach to farming using regenerative agriculture. Unlike traditional farming methods, regenerative agriculture works with nature rather than against it. The team created a device that uses data and AI to detect, analyze and recommend improvements to replenish land. It enables farmers to take real-time soil samples, upload the data to an application and analyze the samples. Based on the recommendations, they can adjust their techniques to become more sustainable and profitable.

I’m so impressed with the team’s hard work and dedication in creating SoilSync. The support they’ve already received to unlock SoilSync's capabilities in the market is tremendously exciting. If SoilSync’s idea resonates in the market, their idea could “graduate” from a hackathon concept into the broader suite of industry accelerators Avanade is building into our portfolio.

Personally, when I feel supported, I feel like I can be successful and there are no limits to what I can achieve. I want them to feel that way too! Learning from others at your level (or levels above you), can inspire you to think outside anything you previously imagined. Also, it can make your process to reaching your goals easier. By learning from the mistakes or points for growth of others, you don’t repeat them.

Already we’ve assembled a technical and business team, built out a proof of concept for the app using Microsoft technology and prepared an engaging presentation. I helped to lead a team of six people, skilled in analytics, front-end and IoT (Internet of Things) development, UX design and storytelling. The app has basic functionality to take measurements, view the data and analytics, as well as match relevant suggestions to integrate the regenerative agriculture practices. We recently presented it to the Microsoft Sustainability Team and are talking about incorporating the demo experience in one of their Microsoft Technology Centers.

Working closely with the team to provide support, guidance, advice, and insights into presenting their ideas, was an amazing and rewarding experience.

I’m excited to see what this year’s FUEL Conference will bring.

Corrine Long

It's so wonderful to see our former interns evolving into a mentorship role. Thank you, Aviva!

May 9, 2023

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