Meet Jen Davidson
I attended my first PDXWIT happy hour in March 2012. Wow, 4 years ago! At the time, I was a PhD student at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. I decided that I wanted to start building a network in Portland, and that I was ready to take action to get more girls and women interested in tech. So I did what anyone would do, and found a happy hour to attend!
At that very first happy hour, Janice Levenhagen-Seeley was there handing out business cards and asking for help with her new idea for a non-profit, an event she wanted to run for high school girls. I took a business card and got in touch with her about volunteering, and the rest is history. I spent almost 4 years volunteering with ChickTech, doing everything from workshop creation and teaching to grant writing to sitting on the board. My experience with ChickTech gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could teach my field. It also inspired the last part of my dissertation where I ran a workshop to teach older adults how to contribute to open source software. I've met a ton of great women and made connections to many companies through volunteering. Being involved in ChickTech strengthened my community of supporters. So, through PDXWIT I found Janice and ChickTech, and through ChickTech I found confidence and a valuable community of technical women.
I moved to Seattle in August 2015, so I'm no longer living in Portland. In Seattle, I've found a UX Happy Hour, which is almost as exciting as PDXWIT. It's great to network in a laid-back environment. I did make sure to attend the women in tech holiday party in December 2015 though, and it was great to see all of the women in tech organizations come together to put on a fun event.
My advice to others is that even if you're like me, and networking just takes it out of you, put your 'networking face' on once in awhile and meet people at events like PDXWIT Happy Hour. You may find out about the next opportunity that will change your life, or maybe even meet lifelong friends.