From huge aspirations to enlightenment to entrepreneurship, Girls Who Code Alumni Karina Popovich is making a name for herself in tech.
Written by Girls Who Code alumna, Karina Popovich
From a very young age, I had huge aspirations for success and I was very confident that I would achieve them. I remember being just 8 years old and already promising my family lavish presents I would gift them — for my dad it was his dream car, a Lamborghini, and for my mom, it was a house in the Bahamas.
Over the years, my aspirations stayed just as large, but I realized it wouldn’t be as easy as the 8-year-old me thought it would be. Lucky for me, I was interested in technology and engineering, which is the type of career that could afford the lavish presents I promised.
At the time, I was still in middle school and going into high school, I didn’t know much about technology or engineering but knew it’s where I belonged. I wanted to learn more but didn’t know where to begin or how to. I remember seeing my extremely technical peers, which tended to be all boys, and every single one that I met seemed to be a pro at tech. Nobody was a beginner, it seemed like everybody interested in engineering already knew everything. And, here I was trying to join the club with no beginners or girls or beginner girls like me to go through the journey with. Girls Who Code gave me that, and so much more.
For me, the Summer Immersion Program at Microsoft NYC in 2017 paved a road of learning, curiosity, confidence, figuring out how to gain respect in a male-dominated field, trusting myself to succeed no matter where I go to college, believing in myself to go figure out how to use that machine, and most importantly, defying the stereotype that smart and successful girls in Engineering can’t be beautiful.
These values combined with Girls Who Code showing me the power of code inspired my creation of Connect with Tech, an organization dedicated to filling underrepresented students with a curiosity and passion for engineering and technology. When I was first interested in coding around the age of 13, I tried many courses and programs including Hour of Code, but at the end of each of them I was left confused and thinking, “How does this relate to websites? Or apps? Or all of the other cool stuff I see on the Internet?” I was losing interest in coding only because I couldn’t see the impact coding could make. That’s exactly what Connect with Tech aims to fix with fun and exciting workshops, like light up Wakanda masks or even making fully functional home-made computers or coding a virtual reality experience. Connect with Tech aims to give young students an unforgettable experience that will drive their curiosity to learn more.
“Confidence looks great on everyone, but so many girls are not confident in their skills or even their bodies. I want to lead by example to change that.” — Karina Popovich
In addition to Connect with Tech, I am a strong proponent of female empowerment and gender equality. By my luck, my dream of being an entrepreneur and engineer falls into some of the most gender-unequal fields. As rough as it might seem, I am ready and excited to battle the gender inequality head-on. Girls Who Code and the amazing community of empowering women it has surrounded me with taught me that.
I am proud to say I already started! Aside from all of the amazing things I have done through Connect with Tech, I have also been working on a few tech-y projects of my own:
1. A vinyl cut, 3D-printed business card
2. A start-up called Powza, which is focused on offering start-ups growth strategies and allowing them to achieve these growth strategies by bundling numerous business subscriptions for the price of one
3. The one I am most excited for is an app that connects people with 3D printers to those who need something 3D printed, essentially it’s like the Uber for 3D prints.
Karina Popovich is a student at Brooklyn Technical High School. She participated in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program in 2017 at Microsoft in New York City.