by Jen Sheerin, CTA, Tampa CUGC Leader, CUGC Women In Tech Mentor
“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.” – (Warren Buffet)
Those words echoed in my brain. Last year, I was a mentee in the CUGC Women In Technology mentoring program. The experience was instrumental in helping me to gain confidence, amongst other things, and as a result, I felt empowered to speak up.
I recently had the fantastic opportunity to accomplish one of my goals, and I want to share with you how I found my voice with the help of a CUGC WiT mentor.
I somehow found the courage to co-present at a conference for experts. Yes, I said experts, EUC, Citrix experts, Microsoft experts, VMware experts, and many more experts. As you can imagine, a room full of experts can be very intimidating in addition to the usual presentation anxieties, not to mention being a woman. To give you an idea of the numbers at the conference, women made up about 2% of the attendee list.
It started with a conversation in May at Citrix Synergy earlier this year. One of the male mentors offered to help me with presenting together at E2EVC. My very first presentation at E2EVC (my first time attending E2EVC, too) and the honor to co-present with an expert presenter all sounded like a dream to me!
Eager to share my knowledge with the community, I was determined to make this dream a reality. When my mentor referenced books and information, I diligently read and soaked up every bit of data. Like most, I have had a college-level speaking class, but that was not enough. We talked about preparation strategies, delivery, and much more. I got a wealth of advice on useful resources to create an engaging slide deck.
One would think the technology part would be natural; however, working on the lab was not without challenges. Coordinating schedules was sometimes tricky, but my mentor was excellent at ensuring we had enough time to bring the project to completion.
Throughout the entire process, my mentor somehow masterfully managed to keep me from becoming overwhelmed with fear of failure and quitting. Honestly, I tried at one point when things got difficult with the lab for the presentation demo. He didn’t let me give up! Instead, my mentor was able to coach me into a different perspective to alleviate my fears and to become more confident about the presentation.
The knowledge I gained from this experience is priceless. The entire experience is one I will never forget! It is a testament to the value of the CUGC WiT mentorship program that allows women professional growth and goals achievement. I had tremendous support from the audience of experts leading up to and during my presentation, which made me so much more relaxed. There are lots of great reasons to live up to your potential, and I hope my story has shown that you too, can take the fear out of public speaking. The community needs to leverage the power of your valuable knowledge, won’t you share it today?