How This Millennial Founder Built A Global Mentorship Community For Women In Tech
Powerful words from Sarena Bahad, an award-winning community builder, digital nomad, and founder of Women in Tech Inc -- a platform advocating for gender diversity in the workplace that features inspiring career women on its Snapchat and Instagram channels. By galvanizing a global community, Women in Tech Inc. has been able to utilize social media storytelling to empower female voices in the tech industry, and in doing so, amass an incredible digital presence that led to their 2017 Shorty Award for “Snapchatter of the Year.”
Kate Talbot: How did Women in Tech Inc. get started and how many Takeovers have there been to date?
Sarena Bahad: The channel launched on Monday, May 23rd, 2016 and has been running every weekday since. The channel is live Monday through Friday with different themes including Mindfulness Mondays, Tech Tuesdays, Founder Fridays, etc.
The channel was started to help create a more positive and inspiring dialogue to happen on social media apps where young girls are already spending hours of their week (if not hours of their days)! Most of the content that is promoted to young girls on Instagram and Snapchat is typically fashion, make-up or celebrity gossip. This kind of content doesn’t lift young girls up - in fact, it does exactly the opposite: making young girl compare themselves to photoshopped levels of beauty and reminding girls that society mainly cares about their looks. I wanted to help build a community where women learn from one another, inspire one another and can connect with one another from a place of heart.
Talbot: What have been a few highlights thus far?
Bahad: Being nominated for and then winning Snapchat Account of The Year at The Shorty Awards! Having our logo up in bright lights in Times Square at the Nasdaq in New York!
Talbot: What is the process of finding the phenomenal women for Takeovers?
Bahad: We reach out to potential takeover candidates via email or Instagram. Women may also apply to be considered for a takeover via the website.
Talbot: What makes a successful Takeover?
Bahad: A successful Takeover is comprised of a woman introducing herself and her journey in tech, while also adding value to the community by sharing tips or advice she wishes she would’ve had on the onset of her career path in tech. As a follower, you can leave with actionable next steps to tackle your next career contemplation and have a warm connection to reach out to for follow up. We are the launching pad for new job opportunities, countless coffee chats, and lifelong professional relationships.
Snapchat and Instagram filters are a fun way to make the story more dynamic and also more casual. Yes, you are learning and gaining mentors, but it also feels like you are casually chatting with a close girlfriend as she tells you about her daily hustle.
Talbot: Any advice for women trying to break into tech?
Bahad: We encourage women who are eager to break into tech to follow our channel where they can learn from real women who are already working in and thriving in the tech industry. They can also scroll back to older posts to see past women that have been featured and connect with these women directly if their story inspires them.
Talbot: How have you seen mentorship thrive within the community?
Bahad: There’s not a day that goes by where we don’t receive positive feedback from our community on new connections that have been made. We’re grateful to have a part in helping connect more women to one another and to new opportunities so that they may continue to thrive.
Talbot: How is the content strategy structured?
Bahad: We have a content calendar that is typically booked out several weeks out. We have different themes for different days: Mindfulness Mondays, Tech Tuesdays (where you meet a woman in a tech or product role), Throwback Thursdays (where you reconnect with a woman who’s done a takeover on the channel in the past, and we get an update from her on where things may be at with her business now or if she has a new job, etc.) and Founder Fridays.
Talbot: Why did you start on Snapchat? How have the numbers shifted between Snapchat and Instagram Stories?
Bahad: We started on Snapchat because at the time of launch back in 2016, Instagram Stories wasn’t around yet as a product feature. With digital storytelling, we knew how powerful video can be and we liked that Snapchat served that need very well and it also is a social media platform where many young girls spend a lot of time. Since the introduction of Instagram Stories though, our focus has certainly shifted moreso to Instagram. There’s just more overall context to Instagram - you can tag people and accounts, you can be discovered via hashtags and there’s an open dialogue that the community can plug into. It’s also more transparent, you can see our numbers, our growth and what the community is saying. We hold the title of Snapchat Account of The Year and we still certainly serve that community first, but we have been putting more efforts into growing our Instagram community as of late. We’re almost at 20K followers on Instagram.