“Learn and grow and share with each other, providing us all with a supportive group of friends to fall back on no matter what.” – Caitlin Stanton
Tell us a little about yourself along with a fun fact:
I am a sophomore at Cornell University, where I am pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as minors in Computer Science and Business. I am the faculty relations director for Women in Computing at Cornell, the founder and president of a new, future chapter of the Alpha Omega Epsilon engineering sorority, and a sports writer for the Cornell Daily Sun.
I’ve been involved in tech since the summer of 2014, when I was a student in the Girls Who Code summer immersion program. I spent 7 weeks at the Goldman Sachs HQ in New York City, and it was there that I not only learned the fundamentals of coding, but also developed my soft skills and made lifelong friends.
That jump-started my passion for tech, which I followed up on by taking computer science classes in school and getting super involved in the hackathon scene, so involved, in fact, that I helped found two hackathons: def hacks()—a 24 hour hackathon for high school students by high school student students—and PixieHacks—a hackathon to immerse females in tech.
The summer of 2015 I worked as a technical intern at the AOL brand #BUILTBYGIRLS where I helped to develop additional features for the cambio.com website. The next summer was spent at ASK Applications, where I built a quality assurance program as a software engineering intern. This summer I am working at Girls Who Code as an Alumni Innovation Fellow and am helping to code a brand new application for alumni. Additionally, I am founding and branding the FwdCode college hackathon for unity and social good and the Programhers organization (which stemmed from PixieHacks) to immerse females in tech.
I like to keep myself busy…that’s an understatement.
A fun fact about myself is that I am very obsessed with the culture of 2006 and that obsession is well-documented in old, embarrassing photos on my Nintendo DS Lite from when I was in elementary school.
What # would define your life journey?
#neverstopneverstopping #swagulous #thekeyisbeingironic
Favorite website / app:
Honestly any and every form of social media or video platform (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, etc.)
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Mayim Bialik is an inspiration to me, mainly because she seems to tackle a bunch of aspects of life without skipping a beat. She’s a mother, yet also has a PhD in neuroscience. She’s an actress, but also is able to stick to her principles as an Orthodox Jew. She’s written a book and spoken up about controversial issues like feminism. She’s a woman who isn’t afraid to follow her dreams and speak her mind, and that’s powerful.
Technical and/or life challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I was working on the first def hacks() event, I was a 17-year-old first-time intern who hated speaking on the phone and didn’t know how to make a sponsorship deck or cold call a company. My partner and I had to start from scratch and dig into our small networks to find people and companies who would be willing to give us anything: a venue, food, money, even stickers to use as swag. I spent my lunch breaks taking phone calls with executives, trying to convince them that, although my partner and I had no experience planning hackathons, def hacks() would be a success, with their support of course.
Then one afternoon, when my partner and I were touring potential venues, we ended up at ThoughtWorks, which immediately put our event on their calendar, shook our hands, and said to tell them if we needed anything. It was such a sudden success that we were taken aback, but after that, it all clicked: def hacks() would be a reality. Someone had finally taken us seriously, and with no hesitation, mind you. That first major sponsor and connection set everything into motion and increase our confidence in our cause exponentially, because if a real-life company thought we could be a success, we had to think the same.
Ideal job / where you see yourself in 10 years:
Making an impact at a company that strives for innovation (Google, IBM, etc.)
[A very classic tech answer, but not an untrue one]
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Just go for it. Honestly, just go out and do it. The sad fact about women who are interested in STEM is that they lose confidence in themselves and their abilities in their adolescent years, whereas boys their age remain steadfast in their belief that they are capable of success in STEM. If you’re a girl who’s interested in STEM, it might seem difficult to keep on when you feel insecure or others around you have doubts about what you can do. What I did to combat these feelings was find myself a network of girls who felt the same way, so we could all learn and grow and share with each other, providing us all with a supportive group of friends to fall back on no matter what.
When you have people around you encouraging you, it’s so much easier to pursue a dream than if you’re by yourself and constantly questioning yourself. Once you find those people, apply yourself–enroll in programs like Girls Who Code or AP Computer Science, attend hackathons with your friends, research developments in STEM made by females, code a side project–and whenever you feel insecure or uncomfortable, which happens to *everyone*, talk about it with the friends and family who believe in you and what you can do.