Guest post by Marily Nika, TechWomen mentor
A few months ago, I saw a volunteer call for “Emerging Leader Professional Mentors” in an internal thread at Google, where I work as an Engineering Program Manager. This is how I discovered the TechWomen program.
I am always very passionate about mentorship and actively seek out and create opportunities to inspire people to come together. While I have been involved in multiple mentorship schemes over the years, TechWomen’s was special.
After signing up, I received a list of all the Emerging Leaders and was told I could select one. I could review their backgrounds and see what they were currently working on, and I could actually pick which woman I’d like to mentor (and that was really difficult to do)! That’s how I found Lindiwe Matlali, an Emerging Leader from South Africa. Lindiwe’s research interests were very similar to mine and her background as the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks was very impressive.
A great surprise about TechWomen is that this was not a once-off program or a once-per-week program. Instead, this was a four-week mentorship program where Lindiwe actually worked alongside me. She was able to observe what working at Google means on a day-to-day basis and got to be part of my team. We even planned welcome and goodbye events for her because she blended in with the team so nicely.
When she joined, I created a list of projects that I felt would be great for her, but Lindiwe rejected them all. She came to me with her own, fully fleshed idea to create an interactive comic book with female heroes, which would inspire young girls to get into tech. While this idea was incredible, I told her that there may not be enough time to develop a full interactive comic book, content and designs within the time frame of the program, but she said “no, I know I can and will find a way to do this,” She then reached out to a few groups at Google and was able to find a computer science student at Stanford who was delighted to help her out. The completed project was awesome.
I loved working with a leader like Lindiwe, whose enthusiasm is infectious. During my four weeks as a TechWomen mentor, I learned what it’s like to have unconditional passion for a cause. TechWomen has a massive impact for all parties involved.
I mentor because:
- Someone’s life can be positively transformed by my own past experiences.
- It’s a way for me to reinforce my own learning skills and knowledge.
- It helps me keep up with what’s going on outside the corporate world.
- It’s rewarding in more ways than you can expect and it can (and will!) transform not just the mentee’s life, but yours as well.
Mentoring is fun and adventurous, and it will always leave you with a story to tell!
About the author
Dr. Marily Nika is a 2017 TechWomen mentor. After completing a Ph.D in Computer Science, she joined Google. At the same time, she is developing her own AI EdTech app and is actively supporting the women in tech community around the globe in any way she can. Marily has given three TEDx talks and has received the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Influence Award 2015 for her contributions. You can follow Marily on Twitter at marilynika.