Women in Tech – SheTech Conference
by Heidi Barnett
ApplicantPro’s CEO Sara Jones mentored at SheTech Explorers Day, a high school girls’ conference hosted by Utah Valley University on Friday March 13th. SheTech was created by Women Tech Council to inspire high school girls to learn about tech careers. Sara co-founded Women Tech Council in 2007. Over 900 high school girls attended this year! We decided to interview Sara about the event and why she is passionate about women in tech.
Q: Tell us about SheTech this year, what was it like?
SheTech has a large TechZone with dozens of booths that girls could attend to learn about different technology ideas – some of their favorites were satellite gadgets from Ardusat, to an interactive flight simulator from Rockwell Collins, and 3doodler pens where they could make their own fun articles using basic 3-D printing technology. In the afternoon, the girls do a tech challenge that allows them to apply their own creative ideas to solving a real world STEM problem. That is always a highlight for them, and there were over 80 technology mentors. Angie Trego did an amazing job putting the conference together, and my good friend Carine Clark who is the CEO at MaritzCX was the keynote, and is such an amazing role model for those girls.
Q: So how did you get into technology?
I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to learn about science. My school teachers never held me back and actually encouraged me to pursue math and science. I also had the chance to attend Engineering State at Utah State University as a senior in high school. I got a scholarship to the ACCESS Women in Science program at the University of Utah where I spent the summer with 20+ other women who were pursuing STEM degrees. Programs like these kept me on a STEM pathway. Co-founding Women Tech Council has been a highlight of my career to be able to give back. I hope many of the high school girls remember SheTech as something that inspired them to pursue a STEM degree.
Q: How can HR professionals get engaged in things like SheTech?
HR professionals are perfect mentors for an event like SheTech. It was so great to have many of my HR friends mentoring at SheTech – awesome people like Katie Garcia from InContact and Suzy Jesson from Ancestry.com. HR professionals play an important role in guiding employees in their careers, and often these pathways can include technology opportunities. My friend Raquel Smith and her colleagues at eBay also had a TechZone booth at SheTech. I was able to work with eBay for a year on training business analysts with greater technology skills. Technology learning is a great way for HR professionals to increase value in their employee base so that employees can better impact the top and bottom line.
Q: How do you encourage technology learning at ApplicantPro?
At ApplicantPro, we are very open to pathwaying our own employees in technology learning.
As a SaaS company, we get to work with technology every day. We are very open to pathwaying our own employees in technology learning. We don’t believe that formal education is the only way to gain technology experience, and have a lot of employees who have built that knowledge over their careers. Our product team runs a weekly training that educates employees on product knowledge, and gets very detailed about the technology. Our support team is expected to be able to respond to any client inquiry, even if it is coming from the IT department, so they become very adept at solving technology issues.
We also have a uniquely innovative environment, thanks to our founder Ryan Kohler. He continually look for ways to improve our own company processes, which often involves different departments getting their hands dirty figuring out a technology solution. So even if you are in accounting or sales, you often get involved in spec’ing out user scenarios for making our own processes better. I’d say that at ApplicantPro, you simply can’t escape learning about technology. And I personally love that.
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