When you were thirteen, did you know what you wanted to be? At that age, did you have any idea what types of careers you would have to pick from? Most kids are only aware of the professions they see daily through their parents, friends' parents, or teachers. On February 24, Team Webgrrls spent the day with young girls in the Bronx to introduce them to a variety of professions involving technology. About 10 women shared their career paths at the Careers in Technology career fair held at Mercy Center, a community center for women and their families.
After Nelly Yusupova (Technical Lead of Webgrrls International and Founder of Digitalwoman.com) gave the girls a quick overview of Webgrrls, I (Kristin Vincent, Sr. Information Architect at Barnes & Noble.com) shared my personal motivation for organizing this event: While growing up in the South, I was not aware of what job options were available to me outside of my community and did not have many women role models to emulate. I asked the girls what types of careers they were currently considering. They were interested in pursuing a variety of jobs, including journalist, marine biologist, manicurist, and actress. I pointed out to them that no one listed a job specifically in technology, but I assured them that their careers would intersect with technology in some way.
The first batch of presenters showcased careers in business and technology. Christine Lekme (VP of Maó Networks) kicked things off by sharing with the girls that one option is to start their own companies. She explained how to come up with an idea for a business by identifying a problem and providing a solution. Next Nelly dispelled the stereotype that technical folks are geeks who wear pocket protectors and taped glasses and illustrated how programming is used in just about everything around us. Amélie Walker (Founder of Castle Builder Design) then showed the girls how she merged her passion for archeology and her know-how of Internet technologies to eventually start a company that designs the web site of Archeology Magazine and a growing list of clients. Then Biba Pédron (Founder of Biba4Network) shared how she started a company that enables people to network with others in the US and even overseas. She explained how being bilingual has helped her in business, which hit a cord with several girls who are also bilingual.
The next two presenters were designers who had both grown up in the Bronx, which helped the girls to instantly relate. Diana Ponce (Founder of Diana Ponce Illustration) shared how she uses the internet to showcase her work as a professional illustrator. Diana explained how she uses illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator to create original digital art. The next designer to present was Athena Foroglou (Founder of Athena Digital Design), who showed the girls examples of Flash presentations she has made for clients such as Avon.
Next up were women who have pursued passions in non-technical fields but who leverage technology. Kori Burkholder (New Media for TVT Records) told the girls how she took her love for music and entertainment and turned it into a career where she does jobs like creating ring tones for mobile devices. Then Natalie Kim (www.nataliekim.com) shared how she uses the internet to promote her acting career and find gigs, and she showed examples of freelance Flash projects she has done. Natalie also shared with the girls how to get in the right mindset to succeed in life.
Deborah J. Drucker (HR Manager at American Arbitration Assoc.) closed the event by sharing tips on how the girls can best position themselves for success. She also gave each girl several handouts with next steps that they can use as a roadmap for their futures. Throughout the event, Lynne Bailey (www.lynnembailey.com) coordinated our audio/video needs and took pictures. I want to sincerely thank all of the women who helped make this event a success! The coordinator at Mercy Center said that the girls who attended said they had a great time and learned a lot! I also want to thank Tanya Alvarez (Co-founder of Connecting Moms and Founder of Blinkads) and Nancy Hoffman (Founder of TomatoDesigns.net) for their efforts, even though they couldn't make it to the event for various reasons.
ABOUT THE NEXT OUTREACH EVENT
Team Webgrrls needs YOU! Become a mentor by participating in our next Team Webgrrls event on Saturday, May 19. Join us as we help the girls at Mercy Center create a magazine. They will come up with the title, design the cover, and even write articles and lay out the pages. Each girl will then get a copy of the magazine to take home. We need people to:
- Come out to Mercy Center in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon, May 19, to help work with the girls. Volunteers will help the girls use digital cameras to take pictures and Microsoft Word to write articles and add images to the page. (Mercy Center is easily accessible from the 2, 5, or 6 trains. I will send more specific directions to participants.)
- Create templates for magazine page layouts in Microsoft Word. The templates should indicate where the article heading should go, where images should go, where photo caption should go, etc.
- Contribute images (stock photos, illustrations, clip art, etc.) for the girls to use in the magazine.
Please contact Kristin at [email protected] if you are interested in being a part of this exciting event . I know each of you would be a fantastic and much needed role model for the girls!