Showing posts tagged mentoring
Ask has always supported women in technology – in fact, approximately 50% of managers here at Ask are women, a rarity among tech companies. Ann Semeraro, Senior Director of Consumer and Market Insights at Ask.com, attended the recent Women 2.0 conference in San Francisco and gives us a quick run-down of the conference highlights and some key takeaways.
Q: What was the overarching theme of the conference?
Ann: Women 2.0’s mission has always been to increase the representation of women in tech companies, especially at the executive level, and to increase the number of women who are founding their own companies. This year’s conference really honed in on the experiences women have founding their own companies and women who are actually a part of the investment stage of companies – either for their own companies or as part of VCs. While women founding their own companies has been happening for years, we’re now seeing an increased number of women participating on the investment side of the equation.
Q: What was your favorite session to attend?
Ann: I really enjoyed the talk Obie Felton gave about Google [X]. She spoke about how Google starts out by identifying big problems that affect millions of people, and then tries to solve for these issues using radical, almost unrealistic solutions. The group believes that by starting with the story they want to tell, they can then use those narratives to inspire their engineers and teams to conceptualize the solution, refining their ideas into something tangible.
Q: Who attended the conference?
Ann: There were many young women, early in their careers and some who were even in college! That was really refreshing to see the younger generations seeing the benefit of these types of conferences and making connections with today’s leading women. There was a mantra throughout the conference, “Give and get”, to help attendees get the most out of the sessions and the event. The thinking is to both give and get something out of each interaction. Give some information about yourself that would be helpful to who you’re talking to. Give an introduction connecting two women who might benefit from meeting one another. And get a new connection for yourself. Get information on the next event that suits your goals. Get a new mentor! This mantra is one that any women can apply to networking events, their own jobs and in other aspects of their lives.
Q: What was the key takeaway for you and for Ask?
Ann: It was great to get outside of our own company and hear how tech is being used to solve problems in different industries—healthcare, education, travel, etc. And it was inspiring to hear about the ideas and innovation being circulated through this network of WOMEN. The importance of having mentors and collaborating was emphasized throughout the conference. For Ask, we’ll definitely be looking for ways to get more of our younger and junior female employees to attend these types of events.
Ask.com is a popular website that people visit to get their questions answered. I had the chance to have my own experience at Ask.com through the Spark Oakland program – a national mentoring program for middle school students. I was matched with the public relations team at Ask because I like to write. My mentors were Valerie Combs, vice president of corporate communications and Suraya Akbarzad, senior PR manager.
My experience at Ask.com was unbelievable and I met a lot of new and professional people. I thought it was going to be boring and old fashioned. It wasn’t - the offices were decorated with cute and fun toys and the people look like they really enjoy their jobs. I also saw that Ask.com cares about their users.
For my Spark project, we decided to do a social media campaign. The first piece of the project was this blog post! Together we discussed the activities of each day and began writing the post. We knew we needed pictures to go with the post so we went to the roof of the Ask.com building and took pictures under the Ask logo. As you can see – I had a great time! We also worked on a Facebook post and a tweet to help spread the word. We came up with hashtags for the posts and tweet. An Instagram post will be coming later tonight from our Discover Night presentation.
My experiences throughout the mentoring program showed me how companies work on social media campaigns and other company announcements. My mentors showed me the different Ask.com sites and social media channels and taught me what their jobs are all about. I was even able to get a sneak peek of the company’s end-of-year announcements.
I really learned a lot at Ask.com and am excited to present my project at our Discovery Night showcase tonight!
- Angelica, Student at Bret Harte Middle School, Oakland