On the 20th November 2018 was the official launch of the TechWomen program for the 2019’s cohort. This is almost one month after the closing ceremony celebrating the 2018 cohort of TechWomen Fellows. A cohort in which I took part and an unique experience I had the opportunity to live. A moment that I wish any women excelling in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic) fields can experience. TechWomen is a program initiated by The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and managed by the Institute of International Education. I heard about TechWomen via the past fellows, and now it’s my turn to tell you about it too. This is why I decided to write this article. I don’t just want to tell you about the TechWomen program but I also want to give you some tips that may help you to have a chance to be a TechWomen Fellow.
This year I was among the 5 women selected as Emerging Leaders from Cameroon to participate to the TechWomen program. It was the first time for me to apply to the program and I was selected! We flew to the United States of America, stayed in California during 4 weeks while visiting and working in the Silicon Valley, the heart of the Tech Ecosystem in the world.
In this article I will try to give you 05 tips on how to apply. As I told you, it was the first for me to apply for the program and I had the chance to be selected. Some candidates are applying for many years before getting selected. The process needs a lot of preparation and I hope this will be helpful to you. If you still have questions, please feel free to drop them in the comment section and I will be happy to answer them. For now, these are some recommendations to increase your chances to be selected.
1- Visit the website and Take time to read the eligiblity criterias:
This is really where to start. Don’t rush to fill your application. Instead, take time to explore the website. Read everything you can to have a better understanding of what the initiative is about. Firstly, are you from an eligible country? Even if the TechWomen program is selecting 100 women every year in Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, unfortunately, the program is not open to every country in those areas. Pay attention to that point. Secondly do you have at least 2 years of professional experience in the STEM fields? Thirdly, do you have or are you creating any impact in your community in the field of STEM? If you replied ‘Yes’, to those 3 main questions, then you completed the first step. You can consult the list of criterias by clicking here. That is just one page, but as I said take time to read every pages on the website.
2 – Follow the TechWomen accounts and do your research:
I remember when I wanted to apply to TechWomen. I just saw one picture of Danielle Akini, a friend and 2017 TechWomen Fellow on social media mentioning the program. It seems like she was having fun in the United States and I was curious to know more about how living the experience looks like. After reading all the pages of the website, I start following TechWomen everywhere, from their blog to their social media accounts (Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). I followed them all! I remember I even followed a past TechWomen, Diana Nassar from Middle East. She was sharing her weekly experience of the program on YouTube. Although her channel was in Arabic, I saw almost all of her videos. I didn’t understand anything about what she was saying, but the images were enough to motivate me. Lol!
3- Contact and discuss with TechWomen fellows of your country:
I told you about Danielle in the previous point. She was really resourceful for my application to the program. It was one day… By serendipity, she came to ActivSpaces, where I work. We started discussing about other things, then I asked her about the program. I asked her what the program was really about. She could not have the words to describe it, so she just told me the program was a life-changing experience. Then she asked me if I have applied. I told her that I opened the application form to have an overview of it but I didin’t start the process. Do you know what she told me? That I should really apply and that she will recommend me for the program. And that was how, few days later I received a mail from TechWomen informing me about my recommendation from Danielle. Guess what? In the meantime, Dorothee D., one of the 1st TechWomen Fellow in Cameroon wrote to me, asking me if I applied because she wanted to recommend me also. So that would have been a double point for my application. This just boosted my confidence for my application and gave more credibility for sure.
4- Read and be inspired by TechWomen Fellow’s achievements and biography:
Reading about the TechWomen fellows can inspire you. You will see that you are never too young or too old for the program, that you can be working in rural zones or urban zones, you can be an employee or an entrepreneur and still make it. The most important thing is the work you do through your career in STEM, as soon as it improves people’s lives and tell your own story. I told you we were 5 cameroonians to be selected for the program this year. Here are the profiles of Colette, Diane-Wilma, Horore, Theodora and me available on the TechWomen’s website and on LinkedIn:
- Crescence Elodie NONGA: https://www.techwomen.org/techwomen-mentees/crescence-elodie-nonga |
- Collette JAFF : https://www.techwomen.org/techwomen-mentees/colette-jaff |
- Diane-Wilma TEMECHING: https://www.techwomen.org/techwomen-mentees/diane-wilma-temeching
- Arielle Theodora GUIADEM: https://www.techwomen.org/techwomen-mentees/theodora-guiadem
5- Apply ! Submit your application on time:
After making sure you understand what is requiered and embrace the spirit of the program, make sure you chose your words carefully to show how you are creating impact around you. Please do NOT lie! Don’t fake it! Don’t try to play games with anything you are applying for. The organizers can have all the tools to verify your identity so there is no need to give false informations about yourself. Stay true during the process. If you are ready for this experience, trust me, the words will come out easily to demonstrate your work.
After all that said… I can only wish you the best for your application!
Apply now on www. techwomen.org