This article was written by Developer Technologies MVP Rositsa Fakalieva in Bulgaria. She currently works as a Director of Software Engineering at Telerik .NET UI components and is also a Co-Director of Women Who Code Sofia. She shares about her experience volunteering with Women Who Code and hope that it will be useful for others looking to give back to the community as well.
I have labeled myself as a woman in technology for more than 15 years now. However, beyond that, I am also a manager, a colleague and a friend of many other women working in this complex and challenging industry. That is why in this post, I want to focus on several things that are important for us women in tech to thrive in tech:
Personally, I've found such a community during my time volunteering with the Women Who Code organization. Here's my story:
It is a global, nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and help women in tech to grow in their career. There are regional chapters all over the world, from Europe, to the US to Australia. You can easily find a network that is close to you. I currently volunteer with the Sofia chapter in Bulgaria, which launched in September 2016 and has 766 members with over 91 events organized to date.
I became part of this organization in 2018 when I met Rayna Stankova - the director of the Sofia chapter then who told me more about it. First I was skeptical about what exactly this organization does. But then as I talked with her more, I found out that what the organization does actually depends on us members - the women in tech! That inspired me to pause and critically evaluate what the most important and pressing thing that I personally found difficult was, and would like to make easier for other women in the industry.
After some time, I figured it out. I wanted to create a way to help them to learn about important skills in tech (especially in .NET). Sometimes the new concepts would be coming so quickly due to new releases and developments that I just felt stressed and overwhelmed whenever I did not have enough time to read about everything or understand it. This impact is even worse if you have kids like me - you are already extremely busy at work, plus your native language is not English!
I also feel more confident discussing such topics in informal way with colleagues and friends than with others that I do not know well enough. This helped me realize what I had to do. I began to organize small meet-ups to discuss what's new in the industry. This evolved into organizing friendly events focused on different topics. Some of them were on .NET while others were not - but all of them were fun, interesting and helpful for attendees.
Here are a few photos from these events (pre-COVID19 of course!):
The best thing is that the company which I work for supported me and the organization, allotting budget for us to run these wonderful events. These not only helped build great memories and valuable new friendships, but my volunteering work in the community has also helped me to receive a Microsoft MVP award (so honored and thrilled about that!), a local prize in my country and more importantly, helped me gain a lot more confidence in tech.
Now let me tell you more how the Women Who Code organization can help YOU:
And lastly, I want to encourage other women to have fun at work or just block off 15 minutes a day to do something different than your regular tasks! I say this because I see that many women tend to be way more strict in their daily duties and often forget to take time for themselves. Having fun at work help you to be more creative, get to know people around you in deeper ways, and helps you to develop better technology. Try it out, you won't regret it!
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