If you’re a techie, you might have come across a viral post, by Iqra Hameed, a few weeks ago about why PayPal wasn’t coming to Pakistan. Merits of that post aside, I was also interested in its author. How did a girl from Pakistan manage to sit down with VPs and Directors of PayPal, Xoom, and Venmo?
Turns out, Iqra was one of the women from Pakistan to be selected for the TechWomen 2018 fellowship, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). And through it, she hasn’t only been to the above-mentioned companies, she’s visited 21 others from the Fortune 500 as well.
The program, which started in 2011, brings together emerging women leaders in STEM and provides them access to resources, a professional network and mentors to empower them to reach their full potential.
That’s the sales pitch though. How does it actually help women? Iqra’s on hand to tell us all about it!
Here’s why she thinks the fellowship is ideal for women in tech in Pakistan and why they should apply.
Grounded in Mentorship
TechWomen provides three kinds of mentorship: professional, impact and cultural.
Based on applicant profiles, fellows get to intern at some of the biggest organizations in the world like Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Salesforce and many more.
In the impact mentorship, women solve the most pressing concerns of their communities and learn how to find ideas for impact, build a startup, the ins and outs of social entrepreneurship and much more.
Lastly, culture mentorship helps fellows make the transition of interning in a new country easier through various activities, events, and community service opportunities.
Connects Professional Women from Around the Globe
Women from 22 countries across the world travel to Silicon Valley for the TechWomen program.
“You get to meet incredible women who have achieved amazing things. Talking to them and understanding how they empowered themselves serves as an inspiration,” said Iqra.
Shines a Light on Common Issues Facing Women in Tech
What issues are common to emerging women leaders across the world? Which are regional? How can women come together to empower each other across border lines? These are some of the questions that’ll be answered throughout the course of the fellowship.
“I found out how women from other countries had overcome the issues Pakistani women are currently facing. It gave me a lot of ideas about the steps we need to take as a country going forwards for the inclusion of women in the workforce.”
Empowers Women to Advocate for Their Rights
“One of the things I’ve learned is that regardless of background, education or country, women face a lot of problems. And many of these problems arise from the fact that they aren’t aware of their rights or are afraid to ask for them. TechWomen helped me understand these issues and encouraged me to become an advocate so I could empower women back home.”
Turning Point in an Emerging Leaders’ Career Path
Association with TechWomen doesn’t end when fellows return to their home countries. Becoming an alumnus of the program means access to webinars, events and continuing support of a network of mentors who guide women on their leadership journey.
“Thanks to the program, I went to 24 of the leading companies in the world like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Apple, and Slack and got to see how they work. I interacted with some of the most influential women in the world and got first-hand guidance about the skills needed to develop into a leader. Drawing upon the experiences of women who have been through it all has been invaluable.”
Interested in the program? The good news is that Iqra can actually nominate two women for the TechWomen Fellowship for 2019. If you think you deserve the opportunity, feel free to get in touch with her here. She’s also organizing events in Karachi and Islamabad to guide prospective candidates about the application procedure so keep an eye out for those as well.