You read correctly, 29,000 girls! That’s the number of girls who are a part of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York (GSCGNY) and BlackGirlsCODE NYC (BGC) communities I support. From working on GSCGNY Leadership Advisory Board, to volunteering at gaming workshops, I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of participating in the development of these bright young minds. The lessons I’ve learned completely outweigh any contribution I’ve made.
As many of us kick off 2016 volunteer engagements with youth, I’d love to share four standout characteristics I notice from girls who enter coding and STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) workshop environments. I’ve applied each of these in my own career and got really nice results.
Courage to do something new- Girls who are new to coding may take a tentative approach as they start the morning session. After reading the instructions and feeling the confidence and excitement of the others, they quickly move from observers to active doers as we move into afternoon workshops.
Perseverance and Precision – Coding workshops quickly remind us of the benefits of being detail-oriented! There is always a barrage of questions to figure out an error. Whether they employ group thinking to find solutions, or opt for a more independent approach, they know the importance of asking the right questions and digging deeper into why things work the way they do. They persevere.
Commitment to mastery- Even if not all the girls create the great game at their first workshop, they walk away with increased knowledge. They continue to nurse ambition and gain greater mastery with each try.
Encouragement – The best site to see is when a girl offers assistance and a motivational word to a comrade (I’m always reminded that I need to do more of this).
Courage to do something new is inherent my work as a tech marketer and in the work of most technologists who bring new innovations to market. Perseverance, precision and mastery are fundamental requirements whether we’re designing tools or developing campaigns to communicate a tool’s benefits to users. Introducing new technology is an opportunity to encourage and enable colleagues and customers to try a new solution to simplify their processes. Encouraging tech adoption is essentially supporting a new way of thinking and a new vision about how tech is evolving to support business growth and innovation in ways that were previously unimaginable.
Finally, there is one bonus lesson I’ve come across and that I hope to articulate to as many of the 29,000 girls as possible:
Life long learning - A willingness to admit ignorance, when accompanied with openness to learning, is refreshing at any age. I’m not a formally trained software engineer (learning Python fundamentals from exceptionally patient volunteers), but work closely with engineers and their influencers. I am humbled on a daily basis by how much there is for me to learn about technology.
What about you? What lessons have you gained from the young people in your life? I’d love to hear how you’ve applied those lessons to your work in the tech industry. I’m a life long learner, so always keen to try new things.