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.
Meet Lisa Mutchler
I found PDXWIT on the Meetup app. I'd never used anything like that before, but a friend had recommended it to me because she had found good connections through it here in Portland.
The experiences I've had at PDXWIT were a huge part of inspiring me to believe I had the capability to really succeed as a woman in tech. For a long time, I thought I was on a track to quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom one day. But over the last couple years, I've really found a love for what I do and found that I can have a positive impact in an organization. I relocated here to Portland last fall and was looking for a job, and being surrounded by other successful women through PDXWIT really helped to give me confidence to aim high in my job search. I found a job in November that is a huge step up from my last position, a significant pay raise, and a lot more opportunity for growth.
I've attend the events monthly, meeting more people and making new connections each time. Recently I've been reflecting on how easy it is for us to give in to cynicism and negative thinking, and I'd just say that we need to work hard to avoid that -- both in our personal lives and our careers. The first step toward improvement is believing that it is possible.
Meet Sejal D'Souza
I started attended the networking events at WIT and thought it was a great way to make connections. When I attended the November event at Smarsh, I ended up making great connections that led to a job opportunity! I stay involved with PDXWIT by continuing to attend events. I enjoyed the holiday event that recently took place at Puppet Labs. My advice to others is to always have an open mind to meeting new people and learning about new opportunities. It will give you a new perspective.
Meet Melody Dawn, lighting talk speaker at our October 2015 event
I've had so much success meeting and connecting with wonderful people in Portland through meetups since moving here in 2014. When I found PDXWIT on the Meetup app, I thought it sounded like another positive, supportive group and was interested to talk with techies about my educational ideas. My first meeting was beyond my expectations. Welcoming, comfortable, and full of kind faces and open minds.
More than anything else, the people I've met at PDXWIT meetings have given me confidence and empowerment both my career goals and the abundance of feasible solutions to my various tech needs. I've got big ideas for changes in education and I'm widely interested in all the possibilities that technology may provide.
I was thrilled to give a short presentation at the October Happy Hour event, and after connecting with several new members, I'm looking forward to future meetings and opportunities to collaborate with women in the tech industry. You never know who you're going to meet at a PDXWIT event :)
PDXWIT is a community of brilliant and supportive women (and men) with open arms and encouraging words. It is unlike any other networking environment I have ever been in. I feel comfortable around these women in a way that I don't usually feel in other large groups. If you've got any interest whatsoever in the world of tech whether you've got questions, expertise or just like the idea of supporting a well deserving group of women, then you shouldn't hesitate to attend the next PDXWIT event.
Meet Kristina King, lighting talk speaker at our October 2015 event
I became involved with PDXWIT when the company I work for, Jama Software, hired a new Support Manager. Our recruiter at the time told us that Megan co-founded PDXWIT, and secretly bade us to attend. A handful of us showed up and were greeted with open arms by everyone.
At this point, my connections with WIT haven’t helped me with my career path because I’ve been happy with my position and company, so I haven’t been looking for a change. That said, I talk to so many inspiring women every time I attend a happy hour that I know I can always reach out to someone if I have questions or need encouragement. I love the breadth of experience and skill represented in this group.
I stay involved in WIT by attending the occasional happy hour and by being available if anyone needs me for anything.
Dispensing tips and advice is something I’m hesitant to do because I feel like a neophyte in the tech industry. That said, I feel like I have found success personally and professionally since entering the field, which is a stark contrast to my previous lines of work (teaching and financial services). The difference is that I’ve had bosses and teammates that are openly supportive and trusting. You don’t always know how things will shake out while interviewing, but now I know the kinds of questions to ask when interviewing for a job. What’s the corporate culture like? Do new employees get mentored in any way? What kind of relationship do you have with your boss? How often do you talk with your boss (direct boss, VP, whatever). How would you describe your team? Etc., etc. Some jobs may be more inherently interesting or fun than others, but if you work with good, supportive people, nothing seems like drudgery. In turn, you have to be openly trusting and supportive of your teammates and your bosses. Be generous with praise, because it makes giving and receiving constructive feedback way easier.
Meet Kasey Tonsfeldt, one of PDXWIT's original founders
I initially got involved with PDXWIT sitting at a coffee shop with Megan bemoaning the lack of community for women in technology in Portland. It didn't take very long before we decided to start one ourselves. And thus, WIT was born! Starting one January, we all met up at a bar once a month. By late spring, businesses were hosting us. The group has gone from 15 to over 1000 members on LinkedIn in about 3.5 years.
My connections/friends at PDXWIT have helped me by giving sage advice when I'm frustrated, encouragement when I feel stuck, and congratulations when things go well. PDXWIT has reminded me time and again to turn to my network when I need help because they'll help you much faster than simply scrolling through the job ads.
Unfortunately work travel, and now a summer with a broken foot, has kept me away from PDXWIT for a while, but I am the group's biggest fan, refer a ton of people there, and I'll see you all soon once I'm off crutches!
My biggest piece of advice is just go, meet people, and learn something. I love PDXWIT because attendees come from very diverse backgrounds, career paths, skill sets, and personalities. The events are never boring and it's always really rewarding to see so many women sharing, bonding, and helping each other.
Meet Jocelyn Bourgault
I migrated to the U.S. in 1992 to begin my studies and immerse myself in the American culture. Following my passion for science and math, I became an Engineer and began my career in the technology industry. My career has taken many turns, both geographically and functionally (within R&D, Operations and new products). My most recent move lead me to Intel Corporation in June 2015, working on/with new camera technology. My career has taught me to be proud of my roots and emphasize what my experiences bring to the table as a diverse candidate.
I'm a strong believer that education is the key ingredient to social progress. As such, I'm a strong supporter of STEM education for girls. I'm excited about the current focus of bringing STEM education to low income schools and into the forefront for girls in middle school and beyond. And I love attending the PDXWIT events in support of women in technology! After my first networking event, I knew I had found my tribe! I met incredibly smart, driven women who loved the tech sector and were looking for ways to connect.
My connections at PDXWIT have widened my perceived career path options. While my current move was not directly connected to PDXWIT, I have made connections with technical women in my neighborhood who share schools with my children. I have made connections with Hispanic women in tech who share a common culture. In fact, PDXWIT founder, Megan Bigelow and I found ourselves at a 5am yoga class in the 'hood' and immediately recognized each other and have formed a friendship. PDXWIT has allowed me to meet not just great women but great companies, some of which I had never heard of and inspired me to learn more about the possibilities out there.
I'm originally from Venezuela, but have lived abroad in Curacao, The Netherlands Antilles and Salvador, Brazil. I'm bi-cultural and bi-lingual in Spanish and English as well as proficient in Portuguese, and I'm familiar with other languages and dialects from places I've lived. I love salsa dancing and music. When I'm not working or furthering my education/career, I'm enjoying my family and home in NE Portland, and planning my next travel adventure.
Meet Adrienne Barnett
I got involved in PDXWIT about a year-and-a-half ago on my quest to get into IT. At one of the meet-ups, I became friends with Betsy Reed (former Business Development at Copious, current Director of Business Development at McClenahan Bruer) after she dropped some highly coveted cheese on the ground. I had come to PDXWIT to find a job, making a friend was an added bonus. About a year later, I landed a job at Copious as a Strategist/Producer - now Betsy was stuck with me as a co-worker and a friend. I love my job and I have PDXWIT to thank for it! I continue attend the meet-ups because I enjoy hearing other people’s stories and learning more about the ever-changing world of IT. (I also attend the meet-ups for the cheese.)
Meet Hope Wyss
Hi. I write your PDXWIT newsletter and happy hour invitations. I'm a software technical writer by trade. I moved to Portland about a year and a half ago, and became involved with PDXWIT as a way to meet new people and network with women in the IT industry.
Much to my surprise, there are very few tech writers in our group, and I'm usually the only tech writer at any of the Agile meetups I attend. Tech writers bring so much more to the dev team than simply writing documentation. Because we have to see products from the macro level, we're a very good resource for calling out inconsistencies across product lines. And, because we have to write everything from the end user's perspective, we're a consistent voice for the end user to the dev team and a constant reminder of who the target audience is. My goal is to get more tech writers involved with PDXWIT and to promote the value of our skill set.
After searching for a year and a half, I finally landed a permanent job in The Pearl. We just bought a house (literally, this week!) on the Northeast side. And, we'll be moving our daughter from Oklahoma to Portland next month. In my spare time (lol), I make quilts and weave baskets. What do I like about Portland -- public transportation, all the parks, friendly people, bike lanes, food, microbrews. I will say it has taken us much longer to get settled in Portland than any other place we've lived, but it's definitely worth it.
Meet Margaret Yovan
I got involved in PDXWIT when a good friend dragged me to a meeting last February, after listening to me complain about wanting to go back to working in the tech world. Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming, I didn’t have time to feel out of place.
I had come to PDXWIT to find out what kinds of jobs are out there, given that I hadn’t been in tech for over 10 years. Susan (Robinson, CEO of Tech Talent Link) and I had conversations over the course of several PDXWIT events in which I expressed an interest in trying something new. Then at the May Happy Hour event, she presented me with a proposal to train as a technical recruiter. Tech Talent Link is very active in supporting PDXWIT.
I continue to attend PDXWIT to continue working on my skills at interviewing people, and of course meeting new attendees and sharing my story. My advice to others is not to let job titles get in the way—they rarely describe the entirety of a job’s responsibilities. In other words, explore every opportunity you can, because you can’t know if it’s the right one for you if you don’t take the time to investigate.
got involved with PDXWIT when I was new to Portland and was pursuing a career change or shift. My husband had moved into technology from design and I was also looking into it as a new industry for my sales career. Being new to town and new to the industry, I knew I wanted to meet people personally and professionally. Networking through this group accomplished both of objectives.
Through PDXWIT, I have had the chance to meet fantastic women in various functions within technology. You learn about companies you never knew existed, plus you learn the inside scoop on things like pending hiring. While there seems to be a number of women-focused technology groups in Portland, what I like most about this group is that the representation is so wide open. You meet women who are developers as well as others who work in marketing or operations.
My best advice on getting the most out of WIT is to try to make an effort to consistently attend the monthly happy hours. Through consistency, you start to recognize faces and form connections. That's where the networking pays off -- over the long term. Also, by attending each month, you have the benefit of checking out new cool technology spaces around the city. It's exciting -- a lot is happening!
Ever wonder how this all got started? We asked Megan Bigelow
Four years ago, Kasey Tonsfeldt (now Jones) and I went on a coffee date after I attended the Grace Hopper Women in Computing event. The event left me feeling incredibly empowered and excited about being in tech, though frustrated that it took a conference to bring women like us together. Within an hour, Kasey and I had decided to form our own group to ensure women had a platform on which to gather on a regular basis!
In the early days, PDXWIT met at a local bar for a no-host gathering. By the end of the first year, companies were offering to host our meetings in their office spaces. This year, our entire year is booked and we have nearly 850 members!
The best part about PDXWIT is that it has changed lives in ways we never imagined. Our members have told us that the group has helped build their confidence through meeting new people on a regular basis, created opportunities that often lead to new jobs and/or careers, and many have forged new friendships! I personally have landed my last two jobs through connections I've gained through this group and have met countless women who have shaped my life.