The GirlCode trip San Francisco sponsored by Standard Bank, was truly an amazing trip in every sense. We arrived in the USA on the Sunday afternoon of the 15 of October. Tired and a bit jet lagged we went straight to bed, in order to shake off the jet lag that came about from travelling through different time zones. The first day of the trip started off with an enjoyable walk to one of the Microsoft offices in San Francisco. The short walk from our hotel to the Microsoft offices allowed us to get a feel of San Francisco and see some of the building architectures.
We arrived at the Microsoft offices to a very warm and friendly welcome. We were given a tour of the offices by Christine Matheney, where we got to see and use some of Microsoft’s newest technologies. The tour followed an informative and exciting presentation about Microsoft and what it is like working for the company. That wasn’t the end of the day, we then quickly rushed off to a meeting with Ehrika Gladden the Vice President of Market Strategy at Cisco. There we had an informative presentation on the Company Cisco and their mission. We were also fortunate enough to have an inspirational presentation on Mrs Ehrika Gladden journey through her career as a black female in the tech world. The presentation from Mrs Ehrika Gladden really encouraged us in our journey into the IT world and helped us envision our own career paths. She encouraged us to be unapologetic of who we are and implored us to constantly be in a state of learning and evolving.
Tuesday marked the start of the Tech conference that we traveled to San Francisco for. We arrived at the tech conference and were treated to much needed professional head shots. We then got the opportunity to have a one on one sessions with top IT recruiters, where we got invaluable information on how to get IT jobs around the world. After the IT recruiter sessions, we rushed off to a meeting with the Andile Ngcaba, a highly successful South African businessman mogul and a well-known IT sector investor. He inspired us with stories of how start-ups are formed in San Francisco and encouraged us to have an entrepreneur mindset where ever we are in the world.
From Wednesday to Thursday we attended the San Francisco Tech inclusion conference that was presented by Google for entrepreneurs. The conference was truly inspiring as we got to see the diverse faces that make up the IT industry. The conference enabled us to see our place as black women in the IT industry and equipped us with the tools to navigate and succeed in the IT industry .Our last day involved sadly packing up for the journey back home, but before that we left we were treated to a tour of the google and Facebook offices parks. The tours of these offices opened our eyes to the potential of where we could go in our careers and removed the notion that certain companies are beyond our reach.
Overall, the trip was highly educational and motivational. The biggest takeaway we got from the trip was that the possibilities in the tech world are endless and that there is in fact space for us as women in the Tech world. We got a glimpse of what it takes to reach for your dreams, a glimpse of what it take to be an entrepreneur and be a world changer. A big thank you to the wonderful GirlCode organisation for giving us this opportunity and Standard bank for sponsoring the trip.
By Valerie Tshiani