Meetup is heaven for an extrovert like me. It's a great way to find speaking opportunities. In January, I attended a meetup at Flatiron School (coding/programming school in NYC). They have reoccurring Women in Tech Panel events. This event focused on women in tech leadership and how they got there. I was inspired by the support Flatiron provided their female students. After the event, I completed a survey praising the event and inquired if Flatiron was seeking speakers. Doesn't hurt to ask, right?
Several weeks later, Emily (Flatiron Marketing Associate) reached out to me and asked if I knew anything about technical recruitment. For three years, I've been involved in hiring systems administrators, engineers, support staff and everything in between. After telling her my background and experience she invited me to speak at their March panel focusing on technical recruitment. I was ecstatic!
Before speaking events I don't get nervous but this was my first recorded panel discussion. The panel featured a software engineer from Facebook, three technical recruiters (including the moderator). The event was packed! Young women and men were excited to discuss how to get hired in tech, what to do if you're a career changer and if women sell themselves short in interviews.
The discussion lasted an hour and Q&A happened during and after. It was astounding! I love when the audience participates, it increases the value for everyone. We received great questions from the group. One highlight was a question from a young man in the audience (Jon). He asked, "What can I do as a young man to help with diversity and inclusion for my female colleagues...?" I responded, "...We need to champion for each other. Young women need to support each other as well. As a young man in tech you may not always have women on your team but when you do ensure that she has more than a seat at the table. Ask for her opinion, engage her in conversation because having a seat at the table isn't enough. We need to ensure women have a voice and the support to succeed." The audience applauded.
This was the highlight of the event for me but there were other moments that were just as significant. Video footage is here. The panel provides insight about what hiring managers are looking for, how to utilize tech recruiters, taking charge of your career and being the best candidate possible.
Ok, I have a second highlight. This happened when the event ended. After an event I expect to head home within five to ten minutes. I got mobbed afterwards and stayed late to speak with each young lady standing in line for one-on-one advice. This solidified the purpose of the panel. We were able to reach young minds that evening and that's the best part. Knowing you made a difference.
Thank you to Flatiron for the amazing opportunity. I can't wait to work with your team again. To all the young ladies who reached out to me, I see you doing great things in the future!