Throughout 2019 I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at a number of organizations through Lyft’s partnership with Goodera but none have meant more to me than this one.
I got the chance to help conduct and moderate a workshop to inspire young women/non-binary students to pursue careers in STEM, a field where women are still underrepresented. As a woman and a person of color I know how important representation is to help improve diversity within STEM so giving them the chance to interact and talk to women within the field was incredible.
The event included 49 young female/non-binary students from two neighboring high schools that came to our Seattle office on behalf of Ignite Worldwide, a non-profit focused on creating opportunities to spark girls’ excitement about technology careers and inspiring them to new possibilities. When the students arrived I gave them a short tour of the office where they got to see where different teams sit, get a sense of the vibe, and get to know some of the amenities and perks like the barista room and our dog-friendly policy. They LOVED the dogs!
After the tour, we sat down for a group activity where the students were broken out into small groups to brainstorm different product features that could enable minors to one day use our app. Each group had 1-2 dedicated Lyft volunteers to guide them as they worked together to think through solutions, which allowed them the chance to glimpse themselves as working women in tech. Once the brainstorming session was over, each group had a couple of students volunteer to present their ideas on behalf of their group.
I think that the best thing that came out of this activity was the fact that a lot of the solutions they proposed are actual things Lyft has considered or would consider if we decided to bring minors onto the platform. It was just great to see the students bouncing ideas off each other and thinking outside the box!
We rounded out the event with lunch for the students and a panel of 5 women from different technical areas at Lyft including software engineering, data science, and analytics. They shared stories of their educational backgrounds and professional experiences with the students. Stories of how and why we had decided to pursue careers in technology. Stories of the challenges they faced as women and young professionals, and how they overcame and learned from them. One theme that was consistent amongst all the panellists was that it’s never too late to start getting into STEM and through determination and persistence women can be leaders in this space as well.
When I was in high school I wish that I would have had the opportunity to hear from these women and learn from their experiences. Going into college I was like a lot of those girls apprehensive about getting into a space that I wasn’t exposed to early in my life unlike a lot of my classmates. But for the students to be able to hear the panellist individual journeys and realize that the path to STEM isn’t one size fits all will greatly impact their outlook.
That’s one of the great things about volunteering though- you get the chance to impact others lives just by sharing a little bit about your own. Helping others allows us to change our personal narratives and to bring perspective and meaning that we often lose in our daily mundane tasks. It allows us to remember we are all connected, and we could all benefit by offering each other a word of guidance or a helping hand.
This article was written by Karynn Snow, an avid volunteer and Operations Lead at Lyft, on behalf of Goodera.