Guest post by Korin Hoffman
Only one month after joining the TechWomen team as a Program Coordinator, I had the unique opportunity to send emails to the successful applicants to congratulate them for being selected to participate in the 2013 TechWomen program. Being the one to share the great news with these Emerging Leaders, and being the one to connect with them individually and answer all their questions, didn’t just mean that I was able to read their grateful and ecstatic responses. It also meant getting to know each Emerging Leader on a personal level, months before the program. This human element made me truly connected to the TechWomen mission.
Four months later, the Emerging Leaders finally arrived in San Francisco. After many months of planning for the program and corresponding with the Emerging Leaders, I was getting antsy as I waited at one of the housing locations, eager to welcome the first group that arrived. When the bus pulled up, and the most extraordinary group of women got off, and I felt an immediate sense of joy as we exchanged greeting and hugs. After reading their names on lists, emails, and various materials, being able to match real faces to these names made it feel like I was reconnecting with long lost friends.
Throughout the program, as the Emerging Leaders spoke about their dreams during leadership trainings, their passion for encouraging girls in STEM at a mentoring workshop, and their experience being a woman in tech during panel discussions at Twitter, the women continued to amaze me. I felt humbled to be in their presence, but just when I would start to feel that we lived in very different worlds, they would remind me that women everywhere encounter similar challenges. They would tell me that bringing people together, to collaborate the way that TechWomen does is a very important piece of the solution.
One of my favorite moments in the program occurred on the last day, when I heard the Emerging Leaders pledging to continue working together, talking to each other, and helping each other striving toward their own aspirations after the program. These connections form a shared web of endless opportunity and support, and it’s these connections, and the rich friendships and opportunities created through these connections, which make me proud to be a part of something so empowering.
As I pack up my things and get ready to move to IIE’s Washington, DC office to work on the Fulbright Scholar Program, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with a program with such powerful global impact, and to have met and formed connections with friends, colleagues, and the TechWomen community. I owe my sincere thanks to the TechWomen team, IIE and the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, the Emerging Leaders, and TechWomen Mentors, for making this such an incredible experience for me that I will never forget. I wish everyone the best as they gear up for TechWomen 2014!
Originally from Colorado, Korin made the jump to California after pursuing her studies in Hawaii and Ireland. Korin is passionate about empowering young girls. She volunteers as a mentor to sexually exploited youth, serves on the board of an organization that provides small grants to education programs in Cambodia, and coaches girls’ artistic gymnastics. She loves international travel and making global connections through social media. In addition to tweeting on behalf of @techwomen, Korin was TechWomen’s in-house blog editor and the Emerging Leader liaison for Sub-Saharan Africa. She currently lives in Washington, DC and works with IIE’s Fulbright Scholar Program. Follow her on Twitter! @KorinHoffman