(Photo courtesy of Tapp Network)
Where do you find your community?
It was a November evening where the inaugural Women in Digital event took place at Tapp Network as part of Delaware Innovation Week 2018. Invited by Tapp’s Collie Turner, I was filled with excitement to participate in my first women’s panel.
I’d attended numerous panel discussions in the past, but can still remember that few of them were led by women. I got connected to Tapp Network months prior during the summer and the community there was so welcoming and supportive of my endeavors.
Before my part in the panel began, I arrived in time to learn from the women on the Entrepreneurship Flash Talk part of the evening featuring established women entrepreneurs. Listening to Cat Lindroth, cofounder of Social Contract and SummerCollab, I was emboldened to challenge societal and outdated norms of education. Her contribution to the Dual School community helped change my perception to create an extraordinary high school experience.
And I remember taking away these key points from Christina Pellicane, director of commercialization programs for Horn Entrepreneurship program at the University of Delaware:
- Uncertainty is certain. so use your passions as a North Star.
- Fight for what you deserve.
- Try your best to achieve balance.
- Surround yourself with people who want to help you.
Evidently, all of the women who shared their ideas with the community that night used these lessons in some way to get to their passions and enrich their communities. This community and event created an empowering network and the opportunity to grow from one another.
Later, I was joined by fellow teen entrepreneurs, and the audience and Technical.ly Delaware reporter Holly Quinn asked questions that created thought-provoking discussion. At that moment, the schools that I and my fellow panelists attended were not an important label. We took on new titles we established ourselves, through the pursuit of new opportunities and the desire to impact our communities.
- Megan Chen — Entrepreneur, founder of Re-feeding America and children’s book author
- Deborah Olatunji — Aspiring medical missionary, educator at GripTape and founder of the Student Leadership Initiative Program
- Riya Setty — Aspiring programmer and healthcare professional, founder of the Women in STEM Experience and advocate of computer science education for women
- Dorcas Olatunji (me!) — Aspiring attorney and programmer, Transforming Transportation app
These listed passions helped guide our responses, with questions such as “How does your school contribute to your success?” and “What advice would you give to your younger self?” Using my favorite tool — networking — I recently reconnected with fellow panelists about the experience and asked the most important question:
What advice would you give to teens your age who want to break into the entrepreneurship scene?
Here’s what they said:
“Don’t be afraid to be an individual. There’s a misconception about having a certain number of connections in order to have a place in the community,” said Deborah Olatunji (who is, full disclosure, my twin sister). “You have to show up and meet people.”
“I think the most important piece of advice that I could give would just be to do/ start whatever it is you want to achieve, although it sounds a bit cliche, one of the hardest steps is getting started, and once you are able to get over that hurdle, you will be ready to tackle whatever else comes your way,” Chen said.
“Networking is crucial. Taking advantage of the contacts you have is what will eventually help you receive opportunities and ultimately be more successful,” Setty said.
And my own advice:
Use the resources around you, and to find events that interest you. While you’re there, meet people and tell them about your interests. A great way to get started is telling people about your interests and following up to see how they can help you.
I can’t wait for the next DIW women’s panel, to learn from powerful women again.-30-
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