My Tech Journey through a Pandemic: TechGirlz Teen Volunteer and Teen Advisory Board Member, Trisha Srikanth

Portrait of Trisha smiling outdoors
As I reflect on my technology experiences in 2020, the first thought which comes to my mind is a sense of gratefulness. This past year, a global pandemic overtook the world, greatly impacting not only my daily life but that of billions of others. Nonetheless, my own little ecosystem, comprising of my family members, close relatives, friends, school community, teachers, counselors, and TechGirlz, adapted to the new normal and implemented innovative solutions to the problems that arose, with seemingly no breaks. I recognize what a privilege this is, and I’m therefore immensely grateful for all of the support and encouragement that I’ve received during these challenging times. Even though COVID-19 shut everything down, I was still able to build upon my knowledge of technology from previously.

What first hooked me onto computer science was how influential it is to our world. Society is increasingly digitized, computers and algorithms play a significant role in people’s daily lives, and on an even larger scale, technology is gradually entangling into the structures of society, revolutionizing industries and professions. The possible impact I could create on the present and future of this world by pursuing computer science was certainly enough to sway me into this path.

Very early on, I began to notice the lack of girls involved in anything related to technology outside my ecosystem and my all-girls school community at Padua Academy. Be it computer science camps, courses, research projects, or competitions, there would generally be, at the most, ten to twenty percent of the student body consisting of us girls. I couldn’t help but feel like the odd one out. I quickly began to connect with the TechGirlz mission, to empower girls to be future technology leaders with the real world. TechGirlz endeavors to initiate enduring passion and confidence in technology among young girls by means of dynamic, interactive tech workshops.

I came across TechGirlz via LinkedIn as I was browsing for volunteer opportunities related to technology. I recall the TechGirlz outreach directors being quite warm and welcoming, open to taking chances with new, inexperienced, younger volunteers like me. My various experiences interacting with young girls cultivated my passion for both technology and inspiring other girls to pursue technology. I developed leadership skills, empathy, drive, and confidence.

As part of the TechGirlz Slack workspace, I’m able to interact with a wonderful group of like-minded volunteers and mentors who are knowledgeable, encouraging, and supportive. Indeed, TechGirlz mentors are our cheerleaders.

Screenshot of a zoom conference call with intructors and participants

As a Teen Advisory Board member, I’m provided opportunities to outreach, lead workshops, set goals and plan, and collaborate with other volunteers of similar ages. Just as my community has helped lift me up, I aspire to support young girls as they commence their technology journey by striving to provide a non-intimidating setting where they are not afraid to be themselves.

In the future, I anticipate pursuing a tech major as well as an impactful tech career. I aspire to apply computer science, machine learning, and AI for social good, specifically in the areas of environmental protection, cybersecurity, or social justice, whether this would be through interdisciplinary data science research or an innovative startup. Career goals aside, however, I’d like to continue my involvement regarding volunteering, training, and providing learning and growth opportunities to minorities. I can empathize with feelings of intimidation that I once overcame. I also sympathize with the lack of resources impeding the progress of many. I will strive towards contributing my newly-learned skills and experiences to mitigate these challenges.

I also want to call to action for others to get involved in TechGirlz in any way possible, helping to empower young girls to be the future technology leaders.

*Trisha was recently awarded an Honorable Mention for the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing. Congratulations!