Guest post by Linda Mahnken, TechWomen Impact Coach, and Angele Messa, 2019 fellow of Cameroon
Editor’s note: During TechWomen, Emerging Leaders are encouraged to expand their network, seeking out connections with the greater mentor community based on their professional interests and goals. 2019 fellow Angele Messa of Cameroon and her Impact Coach Linda Mahnken exemplify just that. Below, they share their professional discussions and connection that transcended the action-planning process.
When I applied to TechWomen, it was important to me that my mentorship focus on practical knowledge that I could apply in running my eLearning platforms, EduClick.Africa and KamerBigBang.com, in Cameroon. I was particularly interested to learn about instructional design, learning management systems, user experience and software used to develop eLearning. One of my greatest wishes was to visit an eLearning lab and have a practical session on software functionalities.
When I learned my host company would be Twitch, I worked with my professional mentor, Ilona Koren-Dutch, to learn web design from the UX/UI team. This was an intriguing learning path that I knew would be valuable to enhance my customers’ user experience.
When we received the bios of our Impact Coaches, I checked out their profiles on LinkedIn. Linda Mahnken’s passion and achievements in the field of eLearning amazed me! I knew she was on the top on my list of people to talk to before leaving San Francisco. I presented myself to her at the end of the first Action Plan Workshop and told her how impressed I was by the work she does on eLearning at her company, Esurance. Surprisingly enough, Linda said that she had read about my interest for eLearning in my own profile, too! She was happy for us to schedule time to talk about this topic we both are passionate about.
Linda and I had our first meeting over dinner and while walking around scenic San Francisco neighborhoods. We spoke for hours about eLearning, our work and why it excites us. The best part was when, in our second meeting, I visited Linda at Esurance’s eLearning lab. I gained an in-depth understanding of her work, saw the software she uses to create eLearning and learned ways to enhance learners’ experiences. It was a very practical session including different aspects of eLearning such as course design, software functionalities and how to help users stay motivated while learning.
Linda also arranged for me to meet two eLearning professionals at Golden Gate University who she thought would be able to give me practical insights. These sessions were very helpful and introduced me to useful software. They also answered my questions about learning management systems and about how to prepare lessons, create online classes and schedule online exams.
I’m so happy Linda was one of my Impact Coaches, and I’m also grateful for her openness and desire to reach out and put her networks at my disposal. She had no obligation towards me beyond the action plan activities, but she created time for me and maximized the time I spent working on EdTech. The knowledge I gained will go a long way to helping me maximize my impact back home. This is one of the relationships in San Francisco I’ll want to keep forever.
As soon as I learned that I would be an Impact Coach for Team Cameroon, I reviewed all of the Cameroonians’ profiles to get a sense of their professional goals. When I saw that one of them was interested in my own field – eLearning – I did additional research and I was impressed to learn that Angele is an award-winning EdTech entrepreneur with the goal of using eLearning to reach youth who can’t access formal learning due to armed conflicts or poverty. I could hardly wait to meet her!
I planned to introduce myself to Angele at the Action Plan Workshop 1 and to let her know that I would love to hear more about her work. Before I could mention this to her, I was surprised and delighted when Angele approached me first and shared that she would like to talk with me about eLearning. We quickly formed a plan to meet outside of official TechWomen events to talk together about eLearning.
I feel fortunate to not only be an Impact Coach this year, but to also have enriching professional discussions with a fellow eLearning enthusiast. Having this opportunity to speak with Angele about eLearning was one of the highlights of my 2019 TechWomen experience. Now that she has returned to Cameroon, we continue to be in touch and I look forward to what the future brings.
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