During my career, I’ve been lucky to work with and be led by some incredible women at technology companies. Woman who were willing to mentor, support creativity and innovation, and provide opportunities to take risks and learn from failures.
When I saw the SheTech Summit was accepting volunteers for a student TechChallenge, I jumped at the chance to participate with a few of my colleagues from NICE. What a great opportunity to pay it forward by providing the same encouragement I’ve received to the next generation of young women interested in technology careers. Mentor involvement felt especially important during this time of uncertainty, when traditional education has been disrupted do to COVID-19.
Launched in 2014, SheTech is an initiative led by the Women in Tech Council, is the largest industry-led STEM program focused with more than 12,000 participants. Students get to see and hear directly from women about their careers in STEM and the impact they’ve had on the companies they serve.
Although the pandemic has impacted so many aspects of our lives, including how we do business, it’s also been a time of supporting and celebrating innovators who have been on the front lines helping others through technology. This year SheTech held its annual summit virtually for the first time. Participants heard presentations from women who have been leading the pandemic response in their communities—including developing COVID-19 testing, tracking data and manufacturing PPE—offering students a view into the possibilities of a career in tech and to what it takes to follow their dreams with persistence.
After the inspiring main presentations, the TechChallenge began. Broken up into small virtual teams, the girls had 30 minutes to design a system using technology to motivate people to clean up our environment. This included brainstorming, finding a common theme and design elements. The girls assigned to my team were all passionate about the environmental topic and sprung right into brainstorming mode, deciding on an app that gamifies daily challenges to help clean the environment and reduce carbon footprints. Despite never having worked together before, they quickly began collaborating, respecting everyone’s ideas and refining the design as they went along. When I spoke to my fellow volunteers, I found they had similar positive experiences as well.
“It was a delightful experience, “Jessica Perri, NICE Director of Engineering Solutions, said. “In 30 minutes my team brainstormed a garbage management system that takes the human error and laziness out of the current system by automating the sorting, cleaning, transporting and depositing of trash based upon whether it was recycling or landfill, all run by solar power and managed via voice by the owner/property manager.”
“The technology challenge was a great initiative for them to think about larger problems and as a volunteer all I had to do was just spark their creativity and guide them through the process,” said Gayathri Krishnamurthy, Product Marketing Director at NICE. “I was so excited and thrilled to see how they could come up with some really creatives solutions. That is definitely a boost for their confidence and is a first stepping-stone to help them think big.”
Our involvement in the SheTech conference is one of the many community outreachefforts NICE partakes in to support young women in learning about careers in tech. If you are looking to work with a diverse and innovative company, check out NICE Careers for current open opportunities!