GirlBoss Edge - from the mentors
"What can we do to keep up the spirits and motivation of the young women of New Zealand through COVID-19?"
This is the question asked of Alexia Hilbertidou of GirlBoss by the Ministry of Education and it led to the GirlBoss Edge accelerator programme.
In the fourth cohort, Engineering and Tech, 140 incredible wahine from across Aotearoa spent 10 days online, learning, connecting and being inspired online. InternetNZ proudly sponsored the GirlBoss Edge: Engineering & Tech Edition to empower high school-aged young women to achieve their career goals.
The programme was designed to give young women access to role models, networks and workplaces which they may not be able to access in their everyday communities, with Maori, Pacifica and regional and rural participants priority groups for this programme.
As part of our support, we were thrilled to provide some mentors from among our amazing members and staff to discuss the young women’s career aspirations, sharing aspects of their career journey, and offering support & guidance.
Some of the feedback from these mentors can be read below.
Anna Pendergrast, InternetNZ member
“As someone who has previously been on the receiving end of mentorship, I wasn't sure what to expect going in as a mentor for the GirlBoss Edge programme, but it was a wonderful experience. I spoke with three young wāhine from across Te Ika-a-Māui, each at a different stage of working out what careers and future path they want to pursue.
“They were all really inquisitive and a joy to talk to. I especially enjoyed the chance to be able to share some of my experiences building a career via a pretty circuitous route and show that it's ok not to have everything planned out!”
Vanisa Dhiru, InternetNZ Community Manager
“I was thrilled to be “booked out” with 7 mentoring sessions with young wāhine. It’s an opportunity that we didn’t get back when I grew up, and it's so rewarding to listen to young people and their ambitions.
“Questions posed to me were about my career; how I ended up working for InternetNZ with my varied background, what experiences are important to growing leadership skills; about my role, what challenges I face, and how to balance my volunteer work with my paid job.
“The hardest question was, what advice would I give to myself if I could go back in time to my high school days? I found the women prepared, welcoming and showed some great listening skills. I hope they have been able to each take something away from our 30-minute korero that will help them in some small way with their journeys into innovation and tech.”
Sarah George, InternetNZ Communications Manager
“It was wonderful to connect with talented, passionate young wāhine and talk about their futures in technology. We had thought-provoking discussions about career pathways, networking, seizing opportunities, and equality.
“The conversations inspired me to reflect on my own passions, and what I enjoy about working in technology. GirlBoss is doing amazing things for young women in STEM and I'm proud that InternetNZ is supporting this awesome work.”
From Kim Connolly-Stone, InternetNZ Policy Director
“This was the best Saturday morning I’ve had in ages! A wonderful opportunity to spend time with some fabulous young women. They all had a really good handle on their options but needed some help figuring out how to decide between them and how to get there.
“A question that came up a few times was, ‘law or tech?’ I’ve practised law...and the answer is tech! One of the things I learnt from the conversations is that it's a whole lot harder to get into tertiary education than it was in my day. It's great to have GirlBoss support at this important juncture.”
We can see that the programme has had a great impact on our mentors, and we hope it had a bigger effect on the mentees. This is a crucial initiative to help more people get into STEM and realise there are more options than there might first seem. We hope it continues to inspire and guide more young women in the future.