Written by Aditi Lonhari
The Bay Area is a huge tech hub with an immense talent pool waiting to expand their technical knowledge. Companies handle this by hosting a tremendous number of events and learning opportunities in the area. One such company is Women Who Code, a non-profit organization that hosts events, creates global communities, and supports women throughout their career journey. WWCode relies on local women to step up as volunteers to lead local Networks and spread the WWCode mission across the globe.
My twin sister and I, who is the Director of WWCode-SV, started attending WWCode events in 2016 when we moved to California. It was a no-brainer for both of us to attend WWCode events, not only to learn about the technology industry but also to learn about local tech companies’ culture.
WWCode events held a special meaning for us. Since we both worked at different companies, this was our thing to do together as sisters. It was here we both felt the most alive and engrossed in the discussions happening around us.
We loved every minute of being at WWCode events and engaging in conversations about our experiences in the tech industry with women our age. Gradually it turned into our passion and helped us develop our strength and super-power — networking.
As I progressed in my career, I realized that I had a bank of knowledge about navigating my career, from my own mistakes and listening to the experienced women at WWCode events. I realized I could share this knowledge with the next generation of women to help them steer their careers in the right direction. I knew how it can feel hopeless, especially as a woman in tech, to not have the right resources or guidance to make career decisions.
My sister and I always had a strong urge to give back to society and help other women in the same boat as us. That’s why we decided to step up and volunteer for Women Who Code.
I attended many events but I didn’t know how to put an event together. All I knew was I wanted to contribute my knowledge and experience and I was ready to take on any challenges that would come my way.
Networking and resourcefulness are two of my strengths that have always helped me along my journey. The first major challenge in organizing any event is getting a company willing to host the event. Next is coordinating and reaching an agreement on a date and a topic for the event. The last challenge is promoting the event and getting members to attend. Although it takes a lot of work and is like a part-time job, helping other women is something I’m passionate about so it doesn’t feel like work.
My sister became a Director for the Silicon Valley Network in 2018 and she envisioned the same path for me and knew I had what it took to become a good leader. Through her excellent leadership skills, she was able to guide me by setting great examples every step of the way.
She nudged me to start with volunteering for one of our online technical communities that host global remote events. After our annual Connect SF conference, I took a few hours each week to organize online webinars.
After a few months, I decided to get involved in the local Networks.
The Peninsula region, which is midway between the Bay Area and Silicon Valley WWCode networks, didn’t have many local tech events at the time. WWCode members traveled 45 minutes to an hour+ just to attend events.
I wanted to create more opportunities in this region to help members have the opportunity to attend events organized by WWCode.
The Silicon Valley network received interested Peninsula hosts but they were often passed to the closer Network in San Francisco. I decided to step up as Network Lead for the WWCode-SF chapter and to organize events with the interested, new hosts.
My first event was a career-fair held in collaboration with a local e-commerce company, and it attracted 500+ attendees. My volunteers and I managed to spread the word about the vision of WWCode by talking non-stop for almost 4 hours during the event. Most of the attendees were students, but there were also potential hosts that were impressed by our mission and dedication to the cause.
In the next few weeks, I lead a few more events as a technical instructor teaching React — a highly popular and in-demand frontend technology. I was always open to helping out and volunteering for both the SF & SV chapters whenever they needed me.
My Network Director, Alina saw my hard work and dedication to WWCode and offered me a position as a Director of WWCode SF. I was humbled to accept this offer and doubled down on my commitment of giving back to the community.
Since then I’ve worked with more hosts, preparing and organizing more events, at a larger scale. For this year my goal is to bring in new leaders/volunteers to our local Networks, and help them see their potential. I would encourage everyone to volunteer at our local events in any capacity that you can. You are more capable of helping others than you think you are.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to get involved, or follow us on our social channels to see more upcoming events.
Originally published on Medium.