Turning lemons into lemonade to support the next generation of female technologists
When COVID struck, we were all faced with what felt like an impossible situation to overcome. For me personally, I was miles away from my loved ones, juggling to keep up with work as a newly-promoted Vice President, running the household, homeschooling my two bonus-kids (more commonly known as step-children); the list goes on.
The pandemic also impacted one of my personal projects which I've led since 2018, called Smartiz. Smartiz is a year-long free program for 16-year-old girls to encourage interest in STEM studies and careers. The program builds on three pillars: extra Math curriculum, Programming and Mentoring. Sessions on all elements were hosted at Morgan Stanley's office in Budapest to get the girls closer to a real workplace, work with their technical mentors on programming assignments, and to meet with senior mentors to talk about their dreams and careers.
Unfortunately, COVID changed everything. After several crisis meetings we figured out the way forward, including the right platform, and support model, revisited the deliverables and the scope. We decided to focus on complementing the school's educational materials (many institutions are not set up to continue a high-quality education in an online world), ensured the girls had proper development opportunities, and provided stronger psychological support from both professionals and through mentors to eliminate anxiety.