That’s right, we’ve packed up our nuggets of wisdom, our pirate GIFs and our finest interview trousers and moved over to a spanking new blog.
Don’t be afraid. This is all for the best.
To get you started, please feel free to check out any (and indeed all) of the following:
See you there, chaps!
How are you? It’s Monday afternoon; we don’t want to overburden you with too much text. So, welcome to The Monday Run Down, in which we bring you some nice things, some useful things and some rather lovely jobs. Just in case you haven’t got one. Or you’re bored of the one you’ve got.
Here’s a cat to look at, while you have a think about how much you’d like a new job. He’s the coolest cat in town. You could be that cool, if you had a new job.
You turn that head, cat. You work those glasses.
You want a new job now, don’t you? Go on, make an application. You know you want to. The cat wants you to. We have, after all, got jobs for everyone.
LAST CHANCE SALOON:
-You’ve got seven hours to get your application in to work with Treehouse, in Dublin- this financial startup are looking for an accounting intern to “help reverse unemployment”. Bold claims- but you want in. Especially since there’s a salary.
-Five hours for this one, fashion-lovers, Tweeters: exciting fashion startup Buy My Wardrobe are after a social media intern.
-Two days left to work for the fabulous Platter: love writing? love food? hate “sycophantic piffle”? You’ll really like this job. Get to it.
SHINY NEW ONES:
-Incredible paid networking opportunity for budding entrepreneurs, at ICElist. Want to be in with the big guys? You’ll want this internship.
-Inspiration Manager at Imperial- can you move from formal meeting with investors, to beer and pizza with students? This business development job might just be for you.
-Everybody thinks they are a little bit different. Something unusual. In which case, you probably want to look at this marketing internship, six months paid, with agency Jump! They say they like amazing. And you’re almost certainly amazing.
Right. Go. Now. We’ll wait.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * [this is the passing of time]* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hello again! Application done? Here’s everything you need for a five-minute break. Get yourself a cup of tea. And a biscuit. Go on, you deserve it. And then click here. Consider him your reward. Aren’t we lovely? Isn’t his little face just the best? If cats aren’t your thing, we’d recommend this bioluminescent dinosaur. That can live in your house. That’s cool, right? That’s so cool. What else? Have some 3D printing gone wrong, some smart cities and a new sort of crossword that subtly teaches you code.
And one last cat.
In America, they are using zombies to teach children about STEM subjects. This is true. We haven’t heard an idea we liked so much since Rajeeb Dey decided to set up a jobs board. Anyway, we like education; we like STEM; and we really, really like zombies. Actually, we’re pretty big on most monsters. And because we’re all inquiring minds here at Enternships, we decided to sit down and work out what we could learn from those top ten monsters. Excluding zombies, obviously. They’re taken. So, without further ado, here’s our very own Monsters University (see, we can be topical).
Whether you got your grades yesterday or not, you’re welcome here. That’s the nice thing about monsters- very friendly. Ish.
Shape-shift as necessary; change with the times. And by times, we mean moon. Change happens, whether you want it to or not. Go with it. Remember when we told you to bite the dog? Do that. Bite all the things.
What can vampires teach us? Much like sharks, they can teach us about longevity- how to maintain a bloody and despicable and damned stylish brand over time. Because vampires, above all, are stylish.
Thus can we learn how to cloak residual evils under a handsome and attractive façade. For vampires, it’s the whole undead blood-drinking thing, and skulls. For businesses, spreadsheets, office politics and panic.
The word troll has taken on a whole new meaning of late: we’ve moved from from the under-the-bridge, massive-club, mossy kind of monster, to the creeping and unpleasant anonymous internetters. The brand, as it were, has gone viral; the troll brand has been co-opted by enthusiastic participants making their own “content”. If by “content” you mean fear, unpleasantness, and strife. As we so often do, here at Enternships.
Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, has one pretty major thing to teach us: the virtue of keeping things dark. Why make a big song and dance before you’re ready to really launch? Fine, sure, give away a few teasers, a la Apple, or a la Bigfoot popping out of the woods to leave a few footprints here and there, but otherwise, stay schtum- and then BURST OUT. Surprisingly. Bigger and better than anyone expected.
Here’s what we can learn here: Godzillas come in all shapes and sizes. And they are still fierce. Look how fierce that Godzilla is. Whether in the big city, or (if you look closely) in the bathroom, even tiny Godzillas can wreak havoc on the existing scene. As you can too, dear readers.
7. King Kong
Although there’s an awful lot to be learned from the life and death of the greatest ape the world has ever seen, we think today we’ll point out that even this massive ape harboured unsuspected feelings in that enormous hairy chest. That’s to say, everybody has feelings; remember that everybody has feelings; try not to hurt those feelings too badly. And take them into account when making plans. People (and apes) can do surprising things.
8. Loch Ness Monster
Here’s one for the Nessie-sceptics: always do your research. Don’t take anything at face value. Or you might end up mistaking a gynaecologist’s rubber submarine (yup) for the real deal. This is true in business, too. It is.
9. Goblins, Ghouls, the aforementioned Zombies With No Conscience*
Goblins know the value of money- get a goblin doing your accounts, and you’re sorted for life. Every penny accounted for. Know where your money is at all times; know how to get it back from people who owe it to you. Ghouls? Ghouls know how to get everywhere; how to make life miserable for everyone until they get their way. Not that we’re advocating that, of course. And zombies? You’re not reading this properly. Zombies, as we explained right at the beginning, teach STEM.
10. Everybody knows I’m….Great Dread Cthulhu
What can we learn from Cthulhu? What can we learn from Cthulhu? We learn whatever Cthulhu damn well wants to teach us. Are you going to argue with “a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind”? No, you’re not…now repeat after me..ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn…
*Yes, alright. We put our hands up**: this post has been one long excuse to listen to Kanye West of a Friday. But who can blame us? And the monsters remain frightening. And the advice is sound.
**at the concert
Google Maps has let me down. Google Maps has led me astray. Google Maps is the reason that I am pacing up and down this road, and probably the reason Anne-Marie Imafidon has probably given up waiting for me, and gone home. I am fifteen minutes late for our interview, in a coffee shop that this blasted machine swears blind is just on this corner. It isn’t.
Being let down by technology just as I’m about to interview the brains behind Stemettes and Hack The Barbican is at least as ironic as rain on your wedding day/a free ride that you just didn’t take/ten thousand spoons. Take that, Alanis.
Eventually I find the coffee shop, and I find Anne-Marie, who has not gone home, and is lovely. I’m here (duh) to talk to her about what it’s like to be a girl in tech; she’s here to tell me about her organisation Stemettes, and their upcoming event at Hack The Barbican.
“Did you know that the numbers of women in STEM are declining?” she asks, laptop out, hands on the keys. “Seventeen per cent last year, thirteen per cent this year. And two thirds of women with STEM degrees don’t use those degrees in their work. I went to a conference last year, in America, and for me the problem is not yet keeping women in tech subjects, it’s getting them there in the first place. I don’t want them to be there as a minority, promoted as a minority. I want a workforce that’s 50% female. I want people to have to pay attention to women [the way they pay attention to men]. So I started this project.”
“Basically, [Stemettes] gets girls to meet women [in tech]. Role-models influence girls in their career goals, even subconsciously. So we have exhibitions, hackathons, but mostly women who’ve done really well- like Jenny Griffiths, who created Snap Fashion, and Roma Agrawal, who was involved in engineering the Shard. We play networking games- and we hear their stories.”
(Of course, that’s what this particular initiative is all about: providing a space for women in STEM fields to tell their stories, to have their stories heard.)
“So next, we’ve got this Hackathon. At Hack the Barbican. You should come! We’re going to have seventy girls, making apps and games, and it’ll be the first time most of them have ever coded. It started as a conversation between a handful of people in January. The excitement grew, and weekly meetings immediately started. And the organizing team grew organically from 5, to 10, to 15, to 20. By the test event in April, we’d become a community of 80 plus and most recently we’ve been totally blown away by the 200 plus project proposals received. At the core of Hack the Barbican there is a spirit of openness, collaboration and learning by doing. And these girls are going to be from around nine years old up, I think!”
What we haven’t yet said about Anne-Marie is quite how clever she is. You don’t expect former child prodigies to be this polite, lovely and down-to-earth but it must be true- it even says it on her Wikipedia page. “Anne-Marie Imafidon, computing, mathematics and language child prodigy” (no citations needed, obviously), and then it lists how young she got involved with this sort of thing, which is very. You can see why she feels it’s her job to encourage others to get into it, too. “Nobody does anything to do with STEM in primary school. You didn’t, I didn’t. But now..Code Club are doing some stuff there. Code Academy are looking at doing some stuff there. And we are, too, from September. We want them as young as possible; we want to make it something that’s just there for them, their whole lives.”
The kids we’re talking about, you recall, are the same age that Anne-Marie was when sitting her first two GCSEs.
“It was never work,” she says. “I used to come home from primary school, where I didn’t do anything, and sit up all night on my computer, building things. I remember sitting there, when I was probably four or five, writing a little story about Red Riding Hood, and saving it, and coming back, and realising that my words would still be there when I came back, on the screen. That was my creation. I’d…made something. And that I could, if I wanted, make the programme I was writing in, too. I’ve always loved making things. Being able to make something…create something..and something that other people can join in with. I love that.”
What’s interesting about speaking with Anne-Marie is that she seems to regard it all as just such tremendous fun, as if the whole tech world is a massive playground, and one she wants to fill with playmates. There’s no difference, it seems, between the traditional forms of creating and the digital; I assume, from the way she talks about creating, that she writes, or paints, or does something old-school- but no. “I’ve just taught myself to write,” she explains, “because people want to hear what I have to say, and I have to tell them. I need people to hear about Stemettes.”
And people are hearing, loud and clear, and they are lending Anne-Marie their platforms and megaphones with which to spread her message further. They’ve been sponsored by big names (ones you’ve heard of: O2, Starbucks, DeutscheBank, Bank of America…). “People just get it! Women get it. They see there’s not enough women around; they remember that they wanted to do it, that they had supportive parents, or they remember they weren’t allowed to do it, and now they enjoy what they do. They want to be that voice, that they never had, they want to help up and coming girls in tech. Guys get it too, they want to help. And they tell their friends, tell their nieces, tell their daughters, tell their sisters. And sign up to our mailing list. And come to our Hackathon!”
You can do that, too. She’d like that, she says.
“We’re also running an exhibition in October- like a conference, for young girls- and they’ll be able to rotate between twenty-minute workshops and other things like that. It’s going to be good. The Hackathon will be good.”
“Not pink,” she adds. “Just cool.”
It might be Stemettes’ motto, that: not pink, just cool. Anne-Marie is very cool.
“What’s been the most difficult thing?” I ask.
She looks at me, puzzled. “None of it’s difficult. It’s fun. Well- getting used to not sleeping is sometimes difficult.”
She is, she explains, also working a full-time tech job, which means she runs Stemettes at night. I have begun to think I might be talking to Wonder Woman. So, obviously, I ask her if she has any advice.
“Get stuck in,” she says, without hesitation. “Just do it. Creativity. Patience. Google is your best friend.”
“It’s all just…amazing,” says Anne-Marie.
And the way she says it, you understand that yes, yes it is. It’s not just misleading Google Maps, or frustrating spreadsheets: it’s a whole brave new world, and Anne-Marie and her Stemettes will be the first to colonise it.
This blog is part of Enternships’ Women In Tech series, within our ongoing commitment to supporting ladies who work in STEM sectors. Want to be involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Written and devised by Ella Risbridger
It’s Shark Week, apparently. This is a thing in America, where everyone watches sharks on the telly and talks about sharks on Twitter. Maybe they also talk about it in person, in their American places, like Walmart. Great whites in Walmart. This proves it is American, because if it were English we would be talking about basking sharks in Boots. Anyway, until Sharkternships exists, we’re going to tangentially relate this to entrepreneurship, jobs, employment and skills we can learn. Because, frankly, we’ve all got a lot to learn from sharks. Maybe you’ll also learn some things about sharks.
1. Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Even pretending to be a shark is better than nothing, frankly. Is that duckling any less scared because he’s being chased by a cat on a hoover? No. The duckling believes himself to be chased by a shark. You are the cat on the Roomba. Everyone else is the duckling. They think you’re a shark. Be the shark.
2. Maintain A Strong Brand
About 450 million years ago, sharks decided to be sharks. We think. They may well be older than that. That is a very, very long time. For context, the very first human-ish things were bumbling about 4.5 million years ago. And they aren’t even very human. Sharks, on the other hand, are pretty recognisably sharks, for all that time. All teeth and scales and tiny eyes. They’ve got- yes- a strong brand. Everything has been frightened of sharks for the last 450,000,000 years. Well done sharks. Good strong branding.
3. Find Your Niche And Stick To It
Four hundred and fifty million years, you say? There’s a successful evolutionary niche filled. Four hundred and fifty million years ago, the proto-sharks saw a niche- for big, toothy, bitey things- and struck. And stuck. As we saw above, the shark brand has been sharky for ages, and it shows. Do we need anything else in that niche? No, because the shark has it sewn up. You be like that shark. You find your niche. You do you, for four hundred and fifty million years, AND COUNTING.
4. Ensure Everyone In Your Organisation Is On Brand
From those who deal in the darkest depths (developers) to those who venture into the shallows to seek out supper (people, if you’re a shark; sales, in business), you need to ensure that everybody in your company gets it, whatever it may be. Sharks get this. All those sharks know that their purpose is to swim about looking for things to eat, and having their eyes on the side of their big blunt heads, and make more sharks to look for more things to eat, and have their eyes on the sides of their heads. The sharks at the bottom have a contribution to that. The sharks at the top have a contribution to that. But they all know the target. They all know what they stand for. Look at that unified branding, right there.
(As an aside, I think this GIF may be from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Which, coincidentally, also has many valuable lessons for businesses. When’s Pirate Week, again?)
5. In The Vast Wastes Of The World, Probably There’s At Least One Tiny Thing Worth Going After
You know that thing about how sharks can smell a drop of blood in an ocean? That has to be you, looking for talent, and for ideas, and for things worth bothering with. The world is full of dreadful things. The world is full of tourists standing on both sides of escalators, and ready meals with insufficiently strong wrapping, and people who clip their nails in public, and murder, and All Bran, and rape. In this sea of misery, you must, sharklike, find the one thing worth bothering with. You must, sharklike, hunt out the one beautiful, perfect idea; the one beautiful, perfect team; the one beautiful, perfect startup. You must do this. You must be a shark, or die.
6. Stasis Is Death
Sharks die if they stop moving. So will you. Well, sort of. Yes, there are sharks that can stay still- whose niche, if you like, remains the same. But for most sharks- and most of us- stasis will be the death knell of our businesses. The shark moves with the sea. You move with the times. It’s basically the same thing. Keep moving. Just keep swimming.
7. The World Is Full Of Opportunity
The world, rather like this feeding frenzy, is full of fish. It’s also, and more relevantly, full of opportunities. Does the shark lie there and wait for the fish to swim to him? No, he does not. He goes out there, grim maw agape, and eats every single opportunity that swims past. Look at all those fish opportunities. Fipportunities.
8. “Move Fast And Break Things”
Yes, look, I know it’s DW and Arthur. It’s relevant, alright? The motto of Facebook is, famously, “move fast and break things”. See left? That’s DW and a shark, moving fast and breaking things, because that’s what sharks do. Take some risks- bring a shark into the sitting room, swim into the shallows- and sometimes you’ll succeed- eating someone! more sharks! business increase!- and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll break the coffee table. So break it. Fix it. Be better.
9. You Are Not Invincible
You may, by this point, be feeling pretty good. You may be feeling pretty unstoppable, to be honest. Check out those gills. Check out these teeth. Check out these prehistoric jaws. And it’s at precisely this moment that you’re at your most vulnerable: yes, your very own Mr. T is going to come out of the water and smack you upside the head. Ain’t nobody got time for that, as the saying goes. So, what can you do to avoid this T-shaped calamity? Well, you can remember that there’s always going to be a Mr. T out there, in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You can stay alert. You can be prepared. You, like most sharks, can make sure that these unexpected punches are swiftly dispatched with your key product: a good, swift, toothy bite.
10. Be Unexpected. Be Unconventional. Be Different.
You know how, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the ocean…it wasn’t? It’s not safe to swim in the pool, either. Even if you’re an Olympian. Because sharks are tricksy. Sharks are wild. Sharks are where you least expect them. Sharks wangle themselves and their munchy business into every arena of life- and as a result, their core business is as strong today as it ever was. Well done, sharks. Hooray sharks.
The internet would make William Morris cry. The internet would make most of the Pre-Raphaelites cry, to be honest, but it would make W. Morris cry more than most. Have nothing on your internet, he might say (clicking mindlessly through another page of “ordered product by mistake NO STARS SHAME ON YOU AMAZON” reviews), that you do not know to be useful. Have nothing on your internet, he’d say, (clicking mindlessly through the sea of LOLcatz) that you do not believe to be beautiful. And then William Morris would put down his mouse, and turn bitterly from his screen, and cry. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it is often a very ugly, and very useless thing. Poor William Morris. Poor us.
Luckily, to cheer ourselves up, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the bits of the internet that are brilliant, and beautiful, and useful- to give you alternatives to the grim world out there. You know TripAdvisor? This is the pretty one of that. It’s also, given the latest news on TripAdvisor, the factual, useful one of that.
Like holidays? Like beautiful things? Triptease is going to make you swoon. Triptease is the review website all travellers- casual or utterly committed to the globe-trotting bug- have been waiting for: simple, elegant, and so very useful. We loved it. We loved it so much, in fact, that we got in touch with Triptease founder Charlie, to pick his brains. In a beautiful and elegant way, obviously.
So, where did Triptease come from,Charlie?
(This is Charlie, in the picture. What a nice smiling man.)
Triptease was the product of two frustrations, Charlie tells us- a business frustration, and a personal frustration.
“During the six years I spent at Fresh Networks (the social media agency I founded), I always felt the travel industry had the greatest opportunity to get value from [social media], yet it continues to struggle to make it pay.”
“I also felt a consumer pain- that existing travel review sites were ugly, text-heavy and often anonymous. As an example, about a year ago I was booking a family holiday. I booked us into a beautiful French hotel with a great reputation. Excited, I checked some review sites to show my wife. It was at that point that the joy of anticipation instantly drained away. All I could find was poorly written, bad looking reviews that made even great hotels look awful. I had no idea if a reviewer had similar travelling habits to me and whether their review had personal relevance.”
Well, that’s Morris’ “useful” criterion- what’s Charlie got to say about beauty?
“People,” says Charlie, “will always care about great design. Online aesthetics are becoming increasingly more important, as more and more content moves online. The success of apps like Flipboard, challenging the bland online aesthetic of news sites, proves that people love good design. Much like Instagram, we think giving people the tools to make quick, beautiful creations is powerful. Empowering people to instantly feel like magazine editors is a large part of the emotional appeal.”
Morris would be proud. Probably. Being Enternships, however, we’ve got a few more questions before we can be totally satisfied: we want to know just how being a successful entrepreneur feels, how Charlie did it- and what you can do to get involved. Don’t say we never do nothing for you.
So, go on- what’s the best bit about running Triptease?
“The sheer size of the opportunity. Travel is a gigantic industry worth billions of dollars per annum. It’s exciting to start out with the ambition of becoming a major player in such a huge market which is, in my opinion, ripe for disruption. The support of the industry since launch has been hugely encouraging. This type of validation so early in our journey is very exciting.”
It’s not all roses, surely?
“It may sound clichéd but life at a startup is a real rollercoaster. There are tough moments, but the overall reaction to the product has been extremely positive. Our community is engaged, there’s a regular stream of high quality content being produced and the reception from hotels has been equally as enthusiastic. But the very nature of a startup means you have really good days and really bad ones.”
Who wouldn’t want to be involved with something this exciting? Not us- so tell us, Charlie- what do we have to do to work for you?
“There are some pre-requisites that apply to good hires at all startups and across businesses in general. The first is commitment. No matter how good your idea is, getting a company off the ground requires hustle. You need energetic, productive people around you who are committed to the cause. You won’t always be able to recruit the polished product and that’s OK. What’s important is that the people around you are willing to listen, learn and develop.”
But what would really impress you, personally, in a job application?
“First, it’s an absolute must that applicants take the time to check out Triptease. They should add a review, engage with the community, offer us feedback on the site. We also love people with a burning passion for travel, photography or writing (but preferably all the above). Applicants with high quality blogs always stand out.”
Brilliant. Well, we’re off to practice blogging- and idly peruse Triptease in our lunch hour. Our imaginary holidays are diverse and endless- and, should we not be totally dedicated to bringing you brilliant content, we’d be reviewing stuff ourselves. Before we go though, Charlie- what advice would you give someone wanting to launch a business online?
“Just have a go. There is no longer a valid reason to let an idea sit and fester. Build an MVP (minimum viable product), test it and learn from the experiment. From there you can decide whether your idea is business-worthy and worth bigger investments of time and money. Good luck.”
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll leave you- swooning over holidays, brushing up on your blogging, and (we hope) inventing some amazing, beautiful, useful things to make William Morris proud.
To continue our season highlighting Women In Tech, we’ve got an interview with the lovely Zoe Peden, Chief Juggler at Insane Logic- a tech company currently creating speech, language and communication tools for the very young and those with special needs. We love Insane Logic over here- I once cornered Zoe at a careers fair and told her at unprecedented length how great and how needed her product was- and we’re pretty sure you’ll feel the same.
The first thing you need to know is that Insane Logic genuinely helps people.
It’s probably not something you think much about, really: how often do you actually take stock of how amazing it is to be able to communicate what you want, when you want it? Think about it now, just for a second. It is amazing, isn’t it?
But there are literally thousands of people who can’t do that, not by themselves. And that is where Insane Logic comes in.
Makaton is a language made up of signs, and symbols. It combines speech with a series of gestures and images, to make a very simple language that can express complex thought. It’s an incredibly good idea, and an incredibly flexible one. It’s this idea that is at the core of what Insane Logic are doing- but Insane Logic are taking it technical.
“I used to work for The Makaton Charity, who own the language programme used in MyChoicePad,” explains Zoe. “I wanted to see if people would benefit from using Makaton in a digital and mobile way, so I left my job [there] to create MyChoicePad. It was the kind of business I wanted to build from my background and interests in both tech and charitable causes- it’s much more motivating and rewarding to build innovative technology that changes lives, than a pure tech business. It’s a merging of both ideological and technology ideals.”
Fairly excellent, no? But changing lives has got to take time- and it’s true that Zoe spends most of hers “doing the thing I love above everything else - my company. Building my company, the team and talking to customers is what I like to do best. I get adrenaline rushes. They make me happy.”
Let’s get down to brass tacks: how did she get the business together? “Together with my co-founder and CTO, Andrew Jackman, we bootstrapped the company for the first 18 months, before getting a grant from UnLtd, and then getting into Wayra. I like to see a real need (and someone willing to pay) behind a business.”
(Wayra, for those of you who don’t pay enough attention to this blog- WHY NOT?-, is a startup accelerator, as described here.)
And finally, what should we be doing to be like Zoe? We all want to change the world, of course, and it’s increasingly becoming obvious that they way to do that is through tech.
“Learn to code,” says Zoe. “Even if you find in the end it’s not for you -even a basic understanding, and respect for those who are good at it, will come in very handy when you are in a fast growing business, and you need to build a team and design new ways of using technology to help others.”
“Design and build a simple website and build a basic app - no need to spend any money, you just need time, determination and patience. Even if you want to work in marketing, this will make you stand head and shoulders above everyone else and provide a brilliant base to kickstart your career in tech startups.”
See why we think she’s great? She’s clearly great- and her product, should you be, or know, a person who has trouble communicating, is something we’ve been waiting ages for, I think. And here are some videos that will probably make you cry, because watching people have their lives changed is always pretty moving. Thanks, Zoe!
Name: Zoe Peden
Company: Insane Logic
Role: Chief Juggler (we think this is a nice way of saying CEO)
Advice: LEARN TO CODE. EVEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, LEARN IT.
Where to find her: “No time to blog, so until then it’s Twitter. We don’t currently use our Insane Logic twitter handle, but when that gets active, we will share our tech stuff there.”
This blog is part of Enternships’ Women In Tech series, within our ongoing commitment to supporting ladies who work in STEM sectors. Want to be involved? Email email@example.com for more information.
Written and devised by Ella Risbridger
Recruiting for technical roles is no picnic, they say. There aren’t enough developers out there, they say. If only these harbingers of doom would jog on and let us get on with writing our job descriptions and let the storm blow over, right? Wrong. Why? Because it’s quicker to change a hiring approach than it is to change a deficient education system. With an endless public lament about the tech skills deficit giving rise to a nation of HR insomniacs, it’s safe to say that the traditional recruitment model is broken. But how to fix it?
Every company, big or small, is doing battle with the supply and demand issue surrounding tech talent. Good developers have an almost mythical status; ask a hiring manager if they would rather try to source a unicorn or a developer, and the brow will furrow. Overdramatic? Not really - the EU Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs predicts that there will be 900,000 unfulfilled ICT-related jobs by the year 2015. Despite the fact that the UK has 40% more digital firms than the government estimated, many of the splendid (not to mention generously remunerated) employment opportunities available with these companies go to waste. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the the country’s collective student debt squirm with anguish.
Yes, the education system still has to play catch-up to balance the scales. It’s a headache for all involved, be they corporate or startup. But it’s the small companies in particular - those lacking the budget and HR manpower to carry out a tech recruitment mission of sufficient size to attract interest - that suffer most under this skills deficit and struggle to tap into the elusive pool of coders and programmers.
That’s what makes Campus Party, the world’s largest festival of technology and digital entertainment, such a mecca for tech talent discovery: it’s an annual epicentre for over 10,000 coders, hackers, gamers, designers and general tech enthusiasts, and this September it’s coming to London for the first time ever. The “campuseros” will drink their fill of hackathons, workshops, demonstrations and presentations from tech A-listers for a whole week, 24 hours a day, at London’s O2 Arena from 2-7 September 2013.
The top bods at Campus Party have recognised the recruitment opportunity here, as this year sees a new addition to the festival called Market Place - an interactive forum for showcasing careers in tech through which all Campus Party attendees will pass. Enter Enternships: we’ve teamed up with Telefónica and will be descending on Market Place to host the inaugural Enternships Careers Fair, dedicated to connecting innovative startups and SMEs to the swathes of tech talent that will be milling around The O2 Arena. Rounding up the unicorns, so to say.
The Enternships Careers Fair is supported by Tech London Advocates, a group of senior tech industry figures that aims to support technology startups in finding new new talent, amongst other things. TLA founder Russ Shaw said:
“London has seen an explosion in tech companies over the past five years, but all this ambition needs a workforce equipped to thrive in the digital economy. The size of this workforce is currently limited by a skills gap in graduates and school-leavers, making it difficult to find the right kind of candidate and hampering attempts to move Britain forward on a digital footing. Events such as the Enternships Careers Fair are a great opportunity for companies to overcome this obstacle - at least in the short-term.”
The Enternships Careers Fair is happening from 3-6 September 2013 at The O2 Arena in London. If you’re on the hunt for tech talent and interested in joining forces with us as an exhibitor, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on +44 (0) 203 397 3216, or you can find out more about how you can get involved here.
By Corissa Nunn, European Development at Enternships
For our Women In Tech series, we’re bringing to your attention some of the forgotten heroines of science- and their incredible lives. This time we’re giving you ten lessons we can learn from the brilliant and beautiful Hedy Lamarr. Some people haven’t heard of Hedy Lamarr, apparently. Have you heard of Hedy Lamarr? We hope you’ve heard of Hedy Lamarr. She was in some films a long time ago. And she was incredibly beautiful. Go on, Google her. We’ll wait.
And as well as being incredibly beautiful, and a very talented actress, she also invented the thing that makes it possible for us to have phones, and wifi, and Bluetooth. Yes. Yes she did. I had Bluetooth on my first ever phone. It was pink. It was a Motorola Pebl. I loved it. Thanks, Hedy!
So, here we go. Ten lessons we can learn from the astonishing life of Hedy “Brilliant Scientist, Also Often-Naked Movie Star” Lamarr.
1. Having Lots Of Names (Though Spy-Like) Is More Trouble Than It’s Worth
They called her Hedy “A Hundred Names” Lamarr. Well, they didn’t, but they might have done. Hedwig Eve Maria went through six husbands, taking their name each time- and none of them were called Lamarr. No, Lamarr was in tribute to another famous movie star- and in consequence, almost nobody twigs that Hedwig Keisler Markey, holder of the patent for the “frequency-hopping spread-spectrum” was also Hedy Lamarr, “most beautiful woman in Europe”.
2. People Underestimate Pretty People
…and self-awareness is sexy. Hedy famously said, “the secret to my beauty is to stand still and look stupid”; she apparently gathered scientific intelligence at dinners with, er, Hitler (we’ll get to that later) by shutting up, pouting and (one imagines) secretly taking notes on her napkin. Which nobody twigged, because beautiful. THAT’S HOW WE DO, HEDY. THAT’S HOW WE DO.
3. How To Fake An Orgasm
A judicious and unexpected “safety-pin in the bottom”, apparently. We really think this is all that needs saying for this one, but maybe it’s worth noting that Hedy’s rise to fame was chiefly because of this particular faked orgasm- one of the first on film in the world. Combined with an extended nude scene in a wood, this led to her massive popularity, which led to her making interesting and impressive scientific leaps. From which we can learn, maybe, that taking your clothes off for money isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Or we can learn that we should stop expecting women who take their clothes off and fake orgasms for money to be stupid. After all, that’s what Hitler did. See above.
4. Patent Everything You Can
…in case one day you become astonishingly famous for your beauty, and nobody believes in your genius any more. In which case, it will be useful for your future fans to be able to wave your illustrious patents around as proof of your greatness. Regard:
Us: “Hedy Lamarr invented this thing!”
Reader: “My apologies. You spoke the truth.”
See? It also should guarantee you a bit of cash, assuming you burn through your acting millions (again, we’ll get to that.)
5. Dictators Make Rubbish Friends.
I mean, they weren’t really friends. Not what I’d call friends. If they were Sims (please, please, let someone have made a Hedy-and-Hitler Sim set), Hedy and Hitler were barely even past the little green “Acquaintance” bar. But it can’t be denied that Hitler did come to dinner, often, at Hedy’s home with her first husband. And then he tried to exterminate everyone of Hedy’s religion, which isn’t what I call polite, not at the dinner table. And certainly not friendly.
6. Escaping From Castles Disguised As A Maid Is A Thing That Actually Happens.
Remember how Hitler came to tea? After the whole antisemitic thing, Hedy was not so keen on him coming back. Which seems, you know, fair enough. This was not a viewpoint her husband, arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl, counted as valid. So he shut Hedy up in his castle. This actually happened! Not even a hundred years ago!* And then…she put on all her jewellery, drugged her maid, stole her maid’s clothes and ran away to be an inventor.
Just to reiterate that: she ran away from her fascist husband, disguised as her own maid, swathed in diamonds, and went to be an inventor. That’s cool, right? That’s SO cool. Hedy!
(*Side note: the author, having also escaped from a castle in which she was locked, feels some sympathy with Hedy here. True story.)
7. Hating Nazis Leads To Good Inventions
So we’ve worked out she hated Nazis. Doesn’t everyone? But unlike the ubiquitous “everyone”, Hedy turned her hand to inventing stuff to ruin them and their dastardly plans. Effectively, here, we’re making Hedy the kick-ass princess, and Hitler the evil witch. Which is totally how the world works. Anyway, that’s how we have phones, and wifi, and Bluetooth, because fighting Hitler. Obviously.
8. Even Techno Musicians Have Purpose
Even we have to admit that she didn’t do it all herself- no, the model and movie star teamed up with, er, the world’s first techno musician. Because of course. We’d be doing her co-inventor George Antheil a disservice if we didn’t mention here that, as well as an avant-garde musician with fans including Picasso, Satie and Cocteau, he was also a murder mystery writer, newspaper agony aunt, self-dubbed “expert” on “female endocrinology”, and general (again self-dubbed) “bad boy” of Berlin. Is NOBODY in this story just one thing? No, obviously not. Right. On we go.
9. Really, We Should Stop Judging Women Who Like Their Appearance, Please.
You know how, at the beginning of this piece, we talked about how everyone thought Hedy was stupid? And you know how we said “let’s stop judging women who take their clothes off and fake orgasms for money”? Well, we’re going to reiterate something like that now- Hedy L. met George A. when she came to him for advice on “enhancing her upper torso”. Because of course that’s what you ask the author of “The Glandbook For The Questing Male”. And then they got chatting, and then they got chatting about torpedoes, and then they got chatting about manipulating George’s mechanised piano system to invent a Secret Communications System. Which they promptly did. And that SCS is the basis of an awful lot of our communications today. How amazing is that? It’s so amazing. You’re amazing, Hedy!
10. Even Beautiful Intelligent Model Scientists Don’t Always Have It All, But Then They Sort Of Do If They Sue Mel Brooks
Look at her. Go up to the top of the page and look at her. Do another Google Image search, if you’d prefer, and lose yourself in that incredibly beautiful face. And then remember that she did everything above. Literally everything. And it earned her thirty million dollars. Which she spent. All of it. And then she started shoplifting sandwiches from pharmacies. Imagine being the policeman arresting Hedy Lamarr for shoplifting an egg-and-cress sandwich from Boots. Imagine being reduced to shoplifting pharmacy sandwiches. At least steal them from M&S, Hedy!
Luckily- and this story, unlike Ada’s, kind of has a happy ending, because it’s a lot more like a fairy tale- Mel Brooks decided to parody her in Blazing Saddles, and Hedy took him to the absolute cleaners.
And she lived happily ever after in a big house in Miami on her (rumoured) $10m settlement. Hedy!
This blog is part of Enternships’ Women In Tech series, within our ongoing commitment to supporting ladies who work in STEM sectors. Want to be involved? Email email@example.com for more information.
Written and devised by Ella Risbridger
Here are some things you should know about our CEO. He started his first business at 17. He has won a lot of awards. He is Rajeeb Dey, and he has a lot of Good Thoughts- so the lovely Start Up Generation called him over for a Twitter chat to pick his brains. But because Twitter chats pretty much vanish into the ether after a few days, and because our internet-addled attention spans can’t cope with whole articles (especially not on a Friday), we’ve bundled the best bits of that chat into this brilliant, ridiculous thing here.
(Literally an otter standing on the Enternships logo, courtesy @JM_Underwood.)
1.“Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see”. If you want something done, it’s your responsibility to do it.”
Be the change you wish to see. If you don’t want to be a mop any more, be a dog. This small fluffy dog is embodying everything good about entrepreneurship. Mop. Dog. Mop. Dog. It’s almost hypnotic, isn’t it? And he’s not waiting around for anyone to help him, either. No, he’s just bursting on out from that moppy tyranny and being the dog he wishes to be. We love you, small fluffy dog. We love your entrepreneurial spirit.
2. “Sometimes people get very precious about their ideas, and don’t share them- it’s better to talk to people for advice, and feedback. Seek help!”
Did you know otters hold hands when they sleep? We did. Best thing ever. Anyway, you and people you ask for help should be like the otters- don’t be afraid to reach out, and ask for help. I bet Left Otter would ask Right Otter for help with her business plan, and I bet Right Otter would give her honest and appropriate feedback. Let’s all pledge today to be like the otters.
3. “The process isn’t a linear one- the key is to just start.”
A road can be a pretty dangerous place for a duckling. Cars, big feet, toddlers on tricycles- and if we look in the background of the picture, a windy road. Corners are dangerous when you’re running that fast. But look! Look that she is not frightened by the non-linear nature of her path. Look that she just starts running! This duckling is like you, and like Raj- starting boldly off, wings flapping, webs hitting tarmac at the speed of light. You go, duckling.
4. “Avoid what I call “analysis paralysis”- getting bogged down in planning vs. doing!”
Look at that little corgi. Look at him go. Is he planning? Clearly a little bit- he’s got his little life-jacket on. Is he dithering on the edge? No, he is not. Look at him go. Look at him leap. In this analogy, the water is the seas of business, and Queen’s Award Winner Rajeeb Dey is/you are the corgi. Swim, little leaping corgi. Swim!
5. “When you love what you do, and are genuinely excited by it, then motivation’s no issue and setbacks become more an issue of perception.”
See? See how the red panda pounces on the pumpkin? See how excited she is? She loves that pumpkin, and she doesn’t need motivating to attack it with literally all her strength. And when it slips out of her grasp, she doesn’t stop, have a little snooze, give up. Oh no. She just LEAPS ON IT AGAIN. Oh yes, panda. What a good panda you are. You’re the panda. Work is the pumpkin.
6. “Know what you stand for and be clear about it.”
This dachshund knows what he stands for. He stands for scrabbling. He stands for scrabbling, and big, adorable eyes. Could he be any clearer? No, he could not. He is so clear about what he stands for. And you love him for it. Don’t you? You do.
7. “Make yourself relevant and interesting.”*
You need to be relevant. You need to be interesting. Just a cat? The internet is full of them. Just a duckling? Internet is full of them. Duckling who thinks a cat’s his mum? Boom. Viral sensation. The cat is your first idea. The duckling is your second idea. Combine them. Cat duckling. Success.
8. “Finding the right team is essential- I’m lucky at Enternships to have the most amazing, dynamic, and inspirational people.”
See this? That baby pig couldn’t scratch his piggy itch without that other pig. That’s you and your team. Just some happy scratchy pigs in a field. Would that pig be so adorable and happy without the other pig? No, he would not. You need a team you can trust. You need a team who will scratch when you can’t. And you need a team as amazing, dynamic, and inspirational as that pig. What a pig. That’s some pig.
9.“A true test of an entrepreneur is how they deal with failure.”*
Well, dog, it’s not that we don’t appreciate your plight. We do, we really do. But you’re never going to make it as an entrepreneur with that mindset. Do you see World Economic Forum Young Global Leader Rajeeb Dey taking the blanket off his cage and hiding under it when things go wrong? No, you do not, dog. And that, dog, is why Rajeeb Dey is winning things for business, and you are still under your blanket. Not that you aren’t adorable, dog. Oh, dog, you are so adorable.
10. “We must constantly innovate.”*
So, you’ve been pouncing on the dog for weeks. The dog’s getting wise to your plans. The dog’s started going the long way round to the food bowls. You’ve got stale, mate. Your ideas are old. You’re old news….but wait! What’s this? Oh yes, you’re innovating! Again! You’ve found this box. You’ve climbed in. You’re in position. The dog’s watching out for you in your old place, behind the coats. He shimmies along, oblivious. That damn dog. How you hate him. You wait. You wait. And then…you pounce. Yes. Yes. YES. Innovation. It’s the key.
In this scenario you are the cat, obviously, and biting the dog is your project. Bite the dog, readers. Bite the dog. Bite the damn dog.
*Alright, alright, some of these aren’t from the Twitter chat. But Raj is nearly always very wise- and it seemed a shame to leave these brilliant insights out…
(compiled, written and awww-ed at by Ella Risbridger)
The thing is, right, not everyone who likes tech is going to be a CEO. Not everyone who codes is going to invent a new iOS, or Candy Crush. But every single lady involved in tech is making a difference- to the way tech is perceived, and the way the industry is structured- so today, we’re talking to brilliant Delphine, who is studying web design. Think you might, one day, like to study web design? You’re going to love Delphine, and Delphine loves coding.
“I don’t know how to explain this,” said Delphine’s first email to me, “but I just love coding, I love it, I love it, I love it.” How could anyone resist an opener like that? So we got in touch, and asked her some more things.
Unlike much of the UK, Delphine, who is from France, got to learn coding in high school. (Jealous much? Us? Never…well, a bit.)
She’d just, she explains, never “felt very comfortable with coding. I had mixed feelings- I liked it, but I found myself too slow. I wasn’t really very good at Maths, and I always felt because of that, I would never be able to do anything regarding Tech. I think it’s also because it’s rooted in our tradition that Maths and Tech are for men and women are Literate.”
It’s a jump lots of us are horribly familiar with- we don’t feel like we’re good at something, and we feel pushed out, and once there’s nobody making us do it, we stop. But Delphine wasn’t done with coding yet.
“I actually felt like coding again a year and an half ago, but only when I started to think about creating my own website. So I started to read everything about coding, web design, graphic design, front-end developer, back-end developer etc. I really wanted to make sure that it was something I’d love, to make sure I wouldn’t be disappointed once I started.”
“After all my reading, I began to look for a school where I could learn. And finally, five weeks ago I started a web design course. And I love it!”
Delphine’s enthusiasm is definitely catching- while we talk, I’m clicking through the first levels of Code Academy, wondering about starting to learn myself. What’s her class like?, I ask.
“In my class we’re only two girls, and eight boys. The teacher is a man as well. It can be sometimes a bit challenging to follow the boys- it can seem that they get how it works really quickly, and then they get bored, and try to move ahead. Especially when I first started, I felt like everyone knew everything already!
“However after five weeks, and my Level One almost done, I do feel comfortable. I know what I’m able to do, and it’s definitely what I want to do. I start my Level Two in September, and hope that with my qualification I’ll be able to work as a web graphic designer. I want to keep studying, too- I want to learn how to use Arduino and Raspberry Pi!”
“I’m like the boys now- I want to know more and more. I keep asking questions to my teacher, I’ll try new things on my computer back home. I look at every website’s source code. I eat, sleep and dream coding!”
Over here, we’re quietly obsessed with Ada “I Invented Computer Programming Before Computers Even Existed” Lovelace. Actually, we’re loudly obsessed- and frankly, why shouldn’t we be? Ada Lovelace is really pretty great. She’s got a society, and everything, and we couldn’t have a series about girls in tech without dedicating at least one blog just to her. Do you love her? You will when you’ve finished this article.
1. Sexism Happens Even (Especially?) If You’re Fantastic
The only legitimate child of poet/wiggy idiot Lord Byron, he reportedly sulked for days after she was born because she wasn’t “a glorious boy”- and didn’t attempt to gain custody of her after the divorce. Joke’s on you, Lord B- she was a glorious girl instead. Probably if she’d been a boy, Lord B would have wanted custody, and we’d have had some more damn poems, and no computers. HAVEN’T WE GOT ENOUGH POEMS NOW, BYRON? HAVEN’T WE? HAVEN’T WE?
2. Being Good At STEM Subjects Will Definitely Find You Love
“Forget this world and all its troubles and if
possible its multitudinous Charlatans – everything,
in short, but the Enchantress of Numbers”
Anyone ever written a poem like that about you? No? Well, that’s because you’re not doing enough Maths.
3. Being “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know” Is Not The Sole Preserve of Poets
You thought only poets got the romance and the danger? Meet Ada, Ada, scandalous Ada. Not only was Charles Babbage, her co-inventor of the program, writing her poems like the above- but she had an adolescent affair with her tutor, kept a string of lovers and ran a gambling syndicate based on some shady algorithms she’d invented. She’s so brilliant.
4. Someone Still Needs To Invent “A Calculus Of The Nervous System”
In 1844- literally almost 200 years ago- Ada was thinking about curing mental illness by working out where it came from, because she was worried about inheriting “madness” from Lord B. This “calculus” would be a mathematical model about how the brain gives rise to thoughts and feelings- something we’re still not sure of. Get on it, ladies, Walk in Ada’s footsteps. And do it while you’re listening to this music by Emily Howard, if you like loud and strange classical music based on mathematics.
5. People Will (Still!) Do Anything To Discredit Ladies Who Do Unladylike Stuff Like Science
We can’t believe we’re still talking about this, but seriously- in the last ten years, we’ve had several books claiming that Ada was “mad”, “did nothing” and that she just piggybacked on the ideas of Charles Babbage. Which may be true- we don’t think it is, but you never know- but you don’t see people claiming that about male scientists. You really don’t.
6. Being Excellent At Science Doesn’t Mean You Have To Stop Dancing
If science meant you had to stop dancing, nobody would do science. That’s just a fact. Still, when people think science, they think Dexter, shut in his lab- imagine if when we thought science, we thought Dee Dee. It’s genuinely possible both to save the world with your super brain and also be really keen on ballet, right? Yep. Ada knew it. Ada was a regular at court. Ada was “dainty”. Ada was “charming” AND “an original mathematical investigator…of first-rate eminence”. Yeah. YEAH.
7. Even Clever People Can Be Idiots
Ada, like lots of people at the time, took a keen interest in phrenology. For those of you not sure what that is, it’s deciding what someone’s personality is like, based on the bumps on their head, which indicate the size of the parts of the brain beneath. Dropped as a baby? Probably a criminal. Or something. Anyway, Ada thought this was pretty neat. And she was wrong. because even smart people are not immune to popular and nifty theories. It’s an important lesson to learn, because smart people will try very hard to tell you that just because they’re smart, you should trust everything they say. TRUST NO ONE, READERS. TRUST NO ONE.
8. Maths Can Stop You Going Mad
We ask everyone we interview how they got into tech- and we really, really wish we’d been able to ask Ada. Chiefly because the reason she got into Maths was because her mother thought it would cure any incipient mental illness waiting in the wings. And, to give her mother her due, it seems to have worked. Rigorous studying stops you having a “moody and unpredictable temperament”, apparently. You heard it here first.
9. Linguistics And Science Go Hand In Hand
If Ada hadn’t also been a gifted linguist, she would never have been able to get involved with Babbage, and his proto-computer. Babbage asked her to translate an Italian article on his Analytical Engine, she wrote some comments on it, the comments ended up being three times longer than the piece itself, and the rest is history. Which is to say, start learning some old-school languages, wannabe programmers.
10. The Good Die Young
Which isn’t totally true, to be honest (we told you to trust no-one)- but it’s certainly true of Ada. Ill for a lot of her life, with a range of ailments that’d put to shame the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric & Discredited Diseases- she finally succummbed to uterine cancer at the age of 37, and was buried next to her estranged father. Poor Ada. Let’s just take a tiny second out of our ordinary days to think about how much more she might have changed the world. Wasn’t she brilliant? Haven’t we learned lots? Ada, Countess of Lovelace, you were supremely excellent.
How better to kick off our Women In Tech season than an interview with Roxanne Varza, founder of Girls In Tech UK, former editor of TechCrunch and Microsoft’s Startup Lover? Roxanne is all sorts of great and inspirational, and does SO MANY THINGS in the tech world? Today we talk start-ups, the future, and post-blogger syndrome…
For those of you who don’t know, Girls In Tech is probably one of the most influential organisations we’ve got for, er, girls in tech. It’s an international (US, UK, China, Greece, France, Chile, Romania, Portugal, &c. &c. & so on) network of women who code, and it aims to “provide women in technology with more visibility. Twitter loses its collective mind at least once a week over the horrible regularity of conferences where every speaker is a man- Girls In Tech is simply an attempt to make up for that. “We do not get together to talk about why life is unfair for women,” says their website, “We aren’t bra-burners or man-haters. In fact, we encourage men to attend and speak at our events as well- [but] a majority of our speakers – unlike other tech conferences – are women. That’s all.”
Seems pretty fair to us, to be honest.
So how did Roxanne come to be involved with this excellent project? “I moved to Europe from the Bay Area in 2009, and was rather surprised when I arrived in France to find so few women working in the tech space” she explained to us by email.
Now, there’s reportedly only a 2.2% difference between the numbers of women in tech in Europe and the US, but our very own Michelle, developer at Enternships, tells us that the situation seems much more dire over here.
“I had already been in touch with Adriana [the initial US founder of GiT], and the Girls in Tech team in the US before moving and I felt the initiative could really be beneficial to the French tech space as well. Therefore, I decided to launch the French chapter with Mounia Rhka. I moved to the UK, and launched the UK chapter with Ella Weston and Mihiri Bonney. As the initiative became more visible in Europe, more people reached out to us to launch chapters in their countries.”
Roxanne’s encouraging hundreds of young women to get into tech- but who encouraged Roxanne? She got into it all, she says, “by accident”, although it sounds to us like she always knew that tech was an option for girls: “my dad used to try to get me to build computers with him when I was little,” she tells us, “but I wasn’t patient enough. I grew up in Palo Alto, and was surrounded by tech and startups.”
Despite this early drilling, it took an international move to really spark her interest. “In 2007 I began working for the French government’s foreign direct investment agency (Invest in France), and I was responsible for working with tech companies (mainly startups) to help them expand into France/Europe.”
“This is when I discovered how much I loved tech and entrepreneurship. I loved meeting the passionate and creative people behind the different companies. I also loved seeing how tech could solve so many different problems. I felt it was really the most exciting space to work in.”
We mentioned above that she’s now the official Startup Lover for Microsoft- a title, she says, she “gave herself”. “It accurately describes what I do!” she tells us. “Essentially, I run two of our startup programs for the French market: Bizspark and Spark.”
“Bizspark is a program that has been around for almost five years that allows startups to benefit from our technology and support for free for a three-year period. We’ve had over 50,000 companies go through the program, including some big guys like ZocDoc or Xobni (who was just acquired by Yahoo).”
“Spark is a recent initiative we’ve launched in France - it’s a startup space and accelerator program to help entrepreneurs transform their ideas into prototypes. We felt this was one of the key areas where entrepreneurs needed support in France and also the time at which we could be most beneficial.”
Reading through the Girls in Tech “about” page, I note that there’s something that perhaps just seemed too simple to mention- the way that this visibility inspires not only the women allowed to speak, but the women who hear them. That the women who run the organisations are so successful in their own right- see above, obviously…- must inspire hundreds of young hopefuls to follow in their footsteps- what can Roxanne tell those girls about how she got to where she is?
“What worked for me was leveraging blogging and social media. I always tell people I owe a lot to blogging and Twitter. Simply getting your ideas and your voice out there can be a huge asset. And it will help you connect with people. I also love Twitter (and Quora) to get and share new information. I’m a huge Twitter fan. I go to loads of events too and talk to lots of people. One of my best ways to get advice or thoughts is simply talking to people. Maybe this is post-blogger syndrome?”
“AND LEARN TO CODE. This is one of the areas I will look into, because I don’t have a technical background. And I believe that in the future, understanding code will be like understanding English; everyone will need it. There are tons of great resources offering classes and whatnot for free or cheap, so now is a great time to learn!”
And lastly, she says, “Don’t stand on ceremony. If you want to launch something - DO IT!”
Go on then, girls. You heard the lady. Do it.
Name: Roxanne Varza
Company: Girls In Tech, Microsoft
Role: Founder, Startup Lover
Advice: LEARN. TO. CODE.
Where to find her: @roxannevarza
This interview is the first in Enternships’ Women In Tech series, as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting ladies who work in STEM sectors. Want to be involved? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(interview written by Ella Risbridger)
The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, the birds are singing- what better time to relinquish your laptop and get outside? Not totally relinquish, obviously, we’re not mad- we’ve compiled a list of eight excellent start-ups that use your screen addiction to get you doing something excellent in the wide world beyond the web. Pick up your phone, check out these beauties and get stuck in.
(Some stripy deckchairs under a blue sky on a pebble beach. Is there a start-up that will let us all knock off early and go to the beach? If you find one, let us know.)
This one is genuinely brilliant, and very, very simple. Summer is mostly about food (yes? yes.) and this lovely start-up is all about food- locally sourced, locally sold, excellent food. Would you like to buy nicer food? Would you like that nicer food to support farmers and local shopkeepers? Wayra-aided Sustaination might be for you. Linking farmers to shopkeepers, and you to both with some rather snazzy technology, this “social network for food” is apparently going to revolutionise the way we all eat. Which would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Where: Check it out here, at foodnation.com
2. Modern Sprout
Rather grow your own? No problem. No problem at all, even in London, even in tiny flatshares, even in July. This start-up is one of the niftiest things we’ve ever seen: letting you grow literally almost literally anything (herbs! vegetables! flowers!) on your windowsill. No need even to get your hands dirty, either, because the magic planter works by hydroponics. We told you it was nifty. Not cheap, but oh, so beautiful. Order online; start growing; start eating.
Where: Get your own here!
3. Six Dinners Later
If growing things doesn’t appeal- but eating things does, Six Dinners Later might be the sociable little start-up for you. Sign up and await your invitation to dinner with strangers; sign up and invite strangers to yours. A spiralling thing of friendly beauty (check out this lovely infographic!), make this the summer you made ALL THOSE FRIENDS. And ate all that food.
Where: Get yourself on that guest list, go on.
This phenomenally successful start-up has lots, and lots of ways to make friends- pick your favourite thing to do and get stuck in!- but since it’s summer, we’re highlighting their Trailblazer section for special attention. Like walking? Don’t know anyone who’ll walk about with you? Go here, get walking.
Where: You can walk where you like, but sign up here.
Like walking, but with a treasure hunt. An actual treasure hunt, and you can keep the treasure at the end. Use your phone to map your path to a mystery location, dig up the chest/rummage in the hollow tree/find the end of the rainbow, enjoy your spoils. Take something little to leave for the next person- it’s like making secret friends you’ll never meet or speak to, combined with being a part-time pirate.
Where: Everywhere! But sign-up, and get the app at geocaching.com
6. Silicon Drinkabout
Look, you say, leaning on the table. We’ve told you. We’re not putting down our screens for anything, and we’re certainly not going outside. But wait! Because we at Enternships are here to help, we’ve found something for you guys, too. Silicon Drinkabout is drinks for start-ups, every Friday. Meet like-minded people, indoors. Maybe with your screen. Maybe in the dark. Don’t say we never do anything for you.
Where: Venue changes every Friday, keep up with them here.
Is where you live dreadful? Are you in dire need of a holiday? This lovely little start-up finds the best deals on flights, as and when you need them- and it’s beautiful, which is not something we say often about flight finders. Say farewell to the eye-scarring orange of Easyjet’s own tortuous website, and jet off with style. And panache. Like you’re Parisian, or something. Get your chic little hat and go.
Where: You tell us! But book your cheap flights here.
8. The Indytute
If you’re staying here, you might as well make this the summer you learn something about your city. “Escape the humdrum”, says The Indytute (currently looking for an intern: go go go!), who want to help you learn all kinds of new things. Don’t waste a second- book your place now, and become even more brilliant.
Where: Book your class here: http://www.indytute.com/
What’s stopping you getting a job you love? Well, according to a report published this week, it might just be something really, really simple. We’ve compiled a list of our top ten skills employers want- and shown you exactly how to get them. With the aid of some space games, some boxed cats and a surrealist compliment generator.
Brush up on a skill in five minutes a day, tops. Five minutes. Just for us? There we go. Splendid. That’s our girl/boy/massively employable human being.
(This kitten in a tie is so ready to learn skills with you. Even in space. This kitten in a tie is so happy you’re here.)
1. Work Experience
What: It’s obvious, really- the amount of time you’ve spent in an office before actually being employed in one will have a tangible effect on a) how much you enjoy being there, and understand how they work, and b) how much they enjoy working with you. Most people (71%) come out of education believing they’d have profited from more work experience, and it’s been slated as one of the major targets for improvement in the coming years. For now, though, you’ll have to organise it yourself- and you can.
How: You can go it alone- write to a company (with the handy tips below) and ask for their policy on work experience- or, better, you can stick with us at Enternships. Lots of lovely work experience in a way that suits you.
What: How fluently you read, write and speak English has a significant impact on the way you are perceived by employers, right from the moment you submit your CV. 55% of employers cite this as a major weakness in their workforce- whether your spelling is atrocious or you just can’t tell your theres from your theirs and your they’res, brushing up your literacy skills might prove the boost your application has been waiting for.
How: Go back to basics here, or if you fancy yourself a bit of a grammar legend, try this brain stretcher. Oh, and freerice.com lets you increase your vocab while also giving food to hungry children. Sold? You should be.
3. Communication Skills
What: So your grammar’s immaculate, your spelling flawless and you can construct a clause that would make Shakespeare weep. Feeling smug? Well, there’s always something to work on- can you tailor your tone to your environment? Learning to mimic house style can be critical in maintaining a “voice” for your company- and equally critical in tailoring your cover letter to fit the company. Some companies want elegant, eloquent expositions of your skills; some want a joke about cheese and sheer boundless enthusiasm . Either way, they all just want to know that you’ll fit in with their gang.
How: Researching the person you’re speaking to before you speak to them; think about how they speak, and how they speak to you; think about their brand, and the language they use to describe it; copy that, as closely as you can. This blog about cover letters has some excellent further advice.
What: Languages are useful! Languages are very useful! 70% of employers would like you better if you knew some other languages! French (49%), German (45%), Spanish (34%), Polish (29% and growing), Mandarin (28% and growing), Arabic, Cantonese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean…Other.
How: Memrise has some excellent courses that slip very easily into your everyday life (start small- Mandarin menu!- or go large and learn, for example, how to “hack Polish”)- whatever your standard of learning. And it’s free. And, actually, fun.
What: Oh, you’re thinking, it’s too late for me. I did [insert dwindling humanities subject here] and now nobody wants [dwindling humanities grads] and everyone wants STEM kids. Oh, those STEM kids. With their fancy acronyms (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) and their shiny lines and angles, everybody wants the STEM kids. Well, wrong. You might not be a STEM graduate, but you can certainly brush up on your techie knowledge. Ten minutes a day learning coding might not make you a million, but it will certainly stretch your mind, and make you just that little bit more employable.
How: In lots of ways, learning to code is like learning a language- and like the best language learning programmes, the best coding programmes let you learn little, and often: Makers Academy, Code Academy or if you’re feeling more frivolous, we’ve found the best of the kids’ coding games, featuring dinosaurs.
What: It’s also worth bearing in mind that, even if you’re never, ever going to touch coding with a bargepole (mistake, but we’ll let it go for now), numeracy is one of those fundamental skills that everybody needs. It’s terribly fashionable to talk about being bad at Maths- but it’s a big concern for employers. 51% of employers wish their employees had better basic numeracy- which basically means that they are 51% more likely to hire you if you’re number-literate. Doesn’t it? (It doesn’t. Time for us to do some of our own Maths courses.)
How: As with English, start by going back to basics- and test your knowledge with this game designed for bored fourteen year olds, but oddly, oddly compelling. Who doesn’t want to be a space alien living on a future planet made out of hamburgers? Not us.
7. Problem-Solving and Self-Management
What: You might think this is really, really obvious- and it is. But when 59% of the UK’s employers are worried about the lack of these things in their graduate workforce, it might be time to double-check that you’re on top of the game. Google first, ask questions later.
Step 1: Identify the problem. Write it down.
For instance, the problem here is that Maru the cat cannot fit into any of these boxes.
Step 2: Next, identify any possible solutions. Google for them. Write them down. Six Thinking Hats can help here.
Get a smaller cat? Get a bigger box?
Step 3: Try them all out- and if all else fails, try thinking outside the box. As it were.
Stop putting cats in boxes?
PROBLEM SOLVED- and you did it all yourself. And you watched a cat video. The best cat video. Self-management and problem solving are so easy when you know how.
8. Aptitude For The Job In Hand
What: Sadly, nobody has made a game for this yet. Or a cat video. We can’t leave it out, however, because an awful lot of employers rate these as the skills they value most highly in potential employees. Knowing why you’d be really good at a particular job- and then being really good at that particular job-
How: Basically, go back to this blog, and take the advice there- are you the best person for the job? Of course you are. Why? Write it down if you have to. Here is some space for you to write it down.
There you go. Look at that. Aren’t you just brilliant? You definitely deserve a cup of tea/ice lolly round about now. And that job.
9. Attitude To The Job In Hand
What: Remember when everything was “…like X with attitude?”? We miss attitude. So do employers, only they want a “suitable attitude to work”, rather than Avril Lavigne-eque skinny ties and pocket chains. Avril Lavigne looked at her audience and knew the right attitude to have was one that embraced the stupid ties and plastic bangles. You look at your new job and know the right attitude to have is one that embraces getting on with it, and being really, really good at it, and making everyone like you. No matter what company you’re working for, that’s what you want to go for.
How: As Neil Gaiman put it- Be nice. Be on time. Do good work. You need at least two of those to be successful, and you’d be best off with all three.
What: You know what we said about aptitude for the job? This one’s like that, but aptitude for life, instead. Looking for jobs can be incredibly demoralising- but as terrible self-help books everywhere know very well- in order to make other people think you’re great, you need to think you’re pretty great yourself. Which you are. You read this blog! You’re ahead of the game!