Tell us your story.
As I grew up in the early 2000s, I combined communications and technology early on. My friends and I built and designed our first LiveJournal and Xanga blogs in middle school, teaching ourselves HTML and playing with graphic design as we gossiped back and forth in the comments. It was all about our social lives; I didn't know these would be important career skills when I was 13!
As an English major in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I only knew that I liked to write. I applied for and got an internship at a boutique communications agency, and my first project was managing a blog and social media accounts for an established advocacy group. Finally, I understood how my personal interest in writing, my penchant for computers and coding, and my career could all work together. I got to see first-hand how the web was changing communications between people and across media, thanks to the agency's senior team -- women who quickly became my mentors.
I have continued to grow my communications career at national non-profits, developing web and social media programs and training other staff in these new fields as much as possible. As any professional should, in my spare time I continue to test out new social networks and teach myself "skills" like Garageband and live-streaming. You never know when these hobbies might lead to a promotion, new job or even a new career.
What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?
One of my mentors from my first jobs made sure I understood my worth, and I've passed that lesson on to every intern, fellow and junior staffer I've ever hired or worked with because it's that important.
When I first started out, I found it hard to trust myself and be confident. I had internalized the notion that I had to pay my dues before I could step up and lead. It's very easy to believe that you're not ready, or you're too young, or that you have to 'pay your dues' before you can accomplish great, impressive things. My supervisor let me know, in very clear terms, that this was 100% not true. Her expectations were sky-high and she wanted to see me step up to every challenge. If I fell, she expected me to get back up and try again. It was tough, but so valuable to me as a young professional and as a woman, because it showed me what I'm capable of accomplishing when I put myself out there.
I've read a lot about 'imposter syndrome,' where women in leadership positions perpetually feel unqualified, or like they don't deserve what they've worked so hard to achieve. I hope that, by finding peer support and mentorship from other strong women leaders, the next generation of women in tech will be proud of and confident about what they can do, and then go kick even more ass.
Pass it on!
Gloria Pan, MomsRising Suzanne Turner and Pam Avery, Turner 4D Communications Violet Tsagkas, Feminism2.0 Holly Jones, YWCA USA Leanne Harley, YWCA of the National Capital Area Renee Green, LeadingAge