By: Zarina Yunis
Girls Inc. OC continually provides opportunities to motivate girls to pursue their field of interest and help them believe that they are smart, strong, and bold young women. This year, Girls Inc. held five STEM-related workshops at Google, DPR Construction, Payoff, Arbonne, and Column Five. As a participant in each workshop, I learned about careers in various STEM fields, heard about the career paths of real life employees (often women), and participated in hands-on tasks with other Girls Inc. participants.
Google is a world leader in technology and specializes in Internet-related services and products. From the moment I walked in, I was in awe of the work environment. It looked like a place where the employees have a lot of fun, but from the personal accounts of the employees I discovered how much hard work and effort goes into the various products they are developing. A few workers described their experience at Google, emphasizing how much they enjoyed their jobs and motivating us to work hard and believe in ourselves. The majority of the people who talked to us were women. We then were led to a guided activity where we were split into groups, and our task was to sort a large pile of CDs in alphabetical order. When I first looked at the pile, I thought I would never finish sorting, however with several girls working together, the task became much easier and we came up with creative ways to make our task go faster. The goal of the activity was to show us how working in a team is so important for solving problems. As the speakers had mentioned before, problem solving was a big part of their jobs. After this, the staff led us on a tour of Google. It was no ordinary office, as it had many kitchens, a gym, several lounge rooms, and each floor even had its own theme! I took many pictures because it was such a fascinating office.
When you think of the field of construction, the first thing that comes to mind is a man with a neon vest and a hard hat. You would never imagine all the design and technology jobs that go into constructing one building. At the DPR Construction workshop, we were presented to by over 20 women who shared their career paths, enthusiastically described their jobs and how they were led into the construction field. One thing I realized by listening to the various women speak was that there are multiple careers within a given field, ones I would never have imagined. Many of the women never step foot onto a construction site, but they are involved with the designing and planning of different projects. After a question and answer session, I was paired up with two other girls to design and build a bridge with pieces from a toy construction set. I learned about which designs were sturdy and which would collapse in the event of an earthquake. The activity tied together some of the lessons we had learned during the presentation.
The third workshop was hosted by Payoff. Payoff provides financial counseling and guides people to making healthy financial decisions by lowering debt and increasing savings. Payoff team members help people pay off their credit cards and support them to achieve financial wellness. Most people would think the employees at Payoff would all have backgrounds in finance, but Payoff employees are a team of research and clinical psychologists, data scientists, neuroscientists, and customer service and technology experts. This was the most interesting thing I learned at the Payoff visit, that sometimes companies want you for the diversity of the background you bring to the table.
My favorite Girls Inc. workshop was hosted at Arbonne International in Irvine, CA. Arbonne is a company that designs many of the beauty products we use in our everyday lives. But unlike many other brands, Arbonne products are all-natural, vegan, and carbon-neutral. After hearing about all the various career options at Arbonne International, we were led into an activity. The activity was fun and motivating at the same time. We were asked to create our own company, give it a name and make our own business card. We were now “Girl Bosses!” Once we had our company brand and mission, we next created our own lotions using water, oil, an emulsifier and a preservative. Many of the girls added fragrance and glitter, making their lotions more attractive. In order to create packaging and advertising, we had to think about the product features and benefits and what we would want to emphasize. We were given a chance to do some market research by interviewing people on their likes and dislikes and then we named our product, created an advertisement and completed the label for our lotion. As I was observing the lotions that some of the other girls had made, I noticed the variety of colors and fragrances they had used, making each one unique. I enjoyed this workshop the most because it involved many hands-on activities and I could envision myself as a creator of my own product.
Column Five is a media marketing company that helps businesses create content in a way that best tells their story or mission. The executives at Column Five gave a very fascinating and creative presentation on the work they do and described the careers of their staff. Workshop attendees participated in a memorable activity that Column Five tailored for Girls Inc., whose motto is “inspiring all girls to be Strong, Smart, and Bold.” We were assigned to teams whose goal it was to create vignettes to represent the Girl’s Inc. logo and motto with a visual representation of the words Strong, Smart and Bold. As a team, we had to work together and find various objects around the studio to creatively present each word. I was in the group that had to present the word “Smart.” My group found books, magazines, a calculator, and a keyboard, which we arranged around the word, which was spelled using various materials like magnets, wires, ribbons, screws and bolts. Once all the groups completed their vignettes, the staff compiled a video with each picture alternating the Girls Inc. logo and the three words. They explained how this video could be shared to send Girls Inc.’s message in a creative way. When I saw the final product, I realized that I had the capacity to present my ideas to a group, collaborate with others, and together achieve a goal.
All of these workshops and my experiences with Girls Inc. over the past few months have empowered me and given me more confidence to pursue my passions. In the past, I had sometimes been hesitant to try new things because I was afraid of making mistakes or being judged. But through Girls Inc, I have met many powerful women whose stories inspired me and other girls to get involved in our community and explore our fields of interest. I am looking forward to other Girls Inc. events!