Out of adversity can come growth: Lessons from TechGirlz’s pandemic pivot

Like most organizations that thrived on in-person interactions and attendance, TechGirlz faced a crisis when the pandemic struck back in March 2020. The non profit program originally had trouble transitioning their volunteer-based workshop plans to a fully virtual environment. Then, the TechGirlz “Pandemic Pivot” was born, in which the virtual opportunities increased the diversity and outreach of the organization. Now, TechGirlz is fully committed to a hybrid model in the future to keep doors open for girls across the nation. This pivot even inspired a plan for a new middle school program focused on technology career pathways for both girls and boys. TechGirlz has really shown how resilience and flexibility can really make a huge impact on the community. The full article was originally published December 22, 2021 on Technical.ly.

Screenshot of girls in a techshop over Zoom virtual conferencing

As an organization built on delivering interactive tech workshops using volunteers, when the pandemic struck in 2020, TechGirlz faced a crisis.

How were they going to continue delivering the programming and community that girls were going to need more than ever? How, or even could they, transition in-person workshop plans to be presented in a virtual environment? How were they going to engage their volunteers to become remote instructors? Like any successful startup, the team faced this challenge head-on with one singular focus. They could not let down their “customers” — the girls and their adults — who had depended on them and now needed them to help provide some degree of normalcy in what was becoming a not at all normal world.

The TechGirlz “Pandemic Pivot” was born.

Like many organizations in those early days, what the team did not realize was what they were doing and learning as they made shifts and pivots was that every change, every decision would have a lasting impact on their business model moving forward.

From the forced changes, TechGirlz learned valuable lessons at an accelerated pace — the largest being the importance of incorporating a virtual component into their overall programming. The idea had on their radar for some time as a “when we get to it” item. The necessary pivot and resulting data and outcomes, including an increase in number, diversity and locations of girls participating in workshops and the overwhelming positive feedback from girls, parents, and volunteers about the virtual workshops, made them realize this change had to become a permanent part of TechGirlz programming. Future plans now include a fully hybrid model where volunteers can opt to run in-person or virtual workshops.

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