Colleagues give their time and skills to help girls become the next tech entrepreneurs and leaders by mentoring at Technovation.
Setting the Stage for the Future
Did you know that engineers are the second-largest STEM occupational group, but that only one in seven engineers is female? This US Department of Commerce statistic is one of the many reasons why the program Technovation was created, and why Perficient colleagues in Minneapolis volunteered as sponsors and mentors.
Technovation was born by entrepreneurs, mentors, and educators looking to teach girls everywhere the skills they need to change the world with technology. Every year, girls are invited to identify a problem in their community and are then challenged to solve it. The annual competition inspires and enables teen girls to dream up, design, code, and pitch a mobile phone app.
Applying the Perficient Power
Perficient volunteers helped the girls on their submission for the global competition, which included a mission statement, pitch video, app demo video, source code, and app screenshots. The final step was for the team was to develop a presentation of their business and app for a panel of judges at the program’s state pitch event, Appapalooza.
“I love getting involved with mentorship opportunities,” said Tori O’Sullivan, associate business consultant. “I was hooked on the idea of helping, in whatever capacity I could, to build up younger generations. It is also empowering to see young girls grow in STEM skills, so being a part of facilitating that growth was a really cool idea.”
Along with Tori, colleagues Abigail Speller, associate business consultant, Mike Mernin, associate technical consultant, and Tea Dejanovic, senior business consultant, were teamed up as mentors with three girls, meeting weekly for three months to prepare for the Technovation Challenge.
“As one of the mentors, I helped the girls think about the ideation and the customer experience of their app,” explained Abigail. “We also helped them keep the project on track.”
The Moment of Truth: Time to Pitch
“It was really rewarding to see the girls genuinely learn and challenge themselves in the tech field,” said Tori. “It was also fun to do this as a group of colleagues. I think it helped us be more authentic with one another as just ‘people here to help.’”
The team’s work with the girls culminated in a mock “Shark Tank” presentation at the Minneapolis office, where they pitched their app to our colleagues. For the girls, it served as a practice run before the competition, and it challenged them to think about the aspects of their business they might not have considered before. For our colleagues, it was a way to experience the impact of the mentoring first-hand, and inspire them to become more involved with the local tech community.
“The opportunity to help a young person build confidence and find enjoyment within this industry was a major motivator to get involved,” said Mike of the experience. “Seeing our mentee’s skillset grow throughout the weeks, culminating in a final day of presentations, was an inspiring experience. The energy in the room and the smiles on the girls’ faces made all the weekends and challenges worthwhile.”
At Perficient, Mentoring Matters
The variety of our colleagues’ job descriptions helped girls understand what a career in technology might look like for them in the future, given their strengths and interests.
The Technovation mentoring initiative was a continuation of pro-bono volunteer efforts that Minneapolis colleagues have fostered in recent years. Last year, they collaborated with Women’s Venture, a non-profit assisting women-owned small businesses, in overcoming their technological challenges. “Pro-bono, or skill-based volunteering, is a great way to apply the knowledge we gain in our roles at Perficient for a cause that matters. It fosters a sense of community and pride in the work we do!” said Tea.
“This experience was a perfect example of the collaboration and innovation that Perficient prides itself in,” said Abigail. “I hope to do it again next year!”