Tell Your Story: #CWITSummit2020 Reflection

Charlottesville Women in Tech (CWIT) recently hosted our second conference supporting women in tech across Virginia. The theme this year was Create a New Story. We are definitely in new times and so we took the summit online with a new platform. Even though we are all spending more and more time video conferencing, I don’t think we knew what to expect out of a virtual conference. From my perspective, it was just what I needed, when I needed it.

Instead of being a serial entrepreneur, which sounds cool, I feel like I have become a serial career transitioner. I started in the tech industry and then became a tech teacher, a non-profit founder, a CS coordinator and now a first year EdD student at the University of Virginia. Each transition has been challenging, but this first semester I’ve been wondering — what have I gotten myself into! The self-doubt and imposter feelings have been real, so the first keynote message from Prof. Lalin Anik and Prof. Roshni Raveendhran, really addressed those lingering fears and doubts. In their message — Unleash Your Own Story One Ask at a Time, they dared us to define ourselves and the world differently.

The second day’s keynote was with career coach Nicole Case, Create Your Story, Inspiration on Getting Started. She encouraged us to follow some steps while we create our story 1) Identify our core values 2) Determine where you want to go 3) Show up as your best self 4) Network to build your community 5) Set boundaries.

Nicole reminded me that it is my passion for technology and the power it has to shape our world has been a core value driving me where I want to go. When I show up as my best self as an EdD student, I remember that I have the unique perspective of someone who has worked with and around technology from multiple angles. I have been part of big and small teams building technology, I have been teaching students to create technology, I have been helping teachers incorporate computer science into their teaching, and I have been working to address social justice issues around technology through Tech-Girls.

The final day’s keynote was on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) with Kelli Palmer, Head of Global Inclusion & Diversity and Corporate Citizenship for CFA Institute. She suggested the most powerful way to make positive impact on the DEI front is through the policies, procedures, and structures of an organization and using education to center everybody around the work and commitments. Doing work at this level is why I’m pursuing an EdD. I want my story to be about making a positive impact at the intersection of technology, education, and social justice.

There were also many excellent break out sessions with amazing women telling their story! We are in the process of uploading all of the sessions from the CWIT Summit to our YouTube channel.

What’s your story? Whatever it is, remember it is important to own it and share it! One way you can share it is to inspire the next generation in tech. We are looking for volunteers to share 1–2 minute videos sharing your journey into tech, what you are passionate about at your job or a brief glimpse into the day in the life as a [fill in your job title]. We will put these on a Tech-Girls landing page along with hands-on activities for the Hour of Code (December 7–13). Learn more here.

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