Guest post by Keerthi Manikonda, a Technovation[MN] participant and Appapalooza Guest Speaker

Approximately three and a half years ago, one of my instructors from a program called BDPA approached me and a couple other girls, and told us about this cool new program that encourages girls to try mobile app development. I went home that day and I told my father about it, who told me to join. Upon hearing my disapproval of his decision, he proceeded to strike a deal with me. I think it was early October when this happened, and I had been pestering my dad about letting me have a Halloween party for quite some time. He told me if I joined Technovation, he would let me have my Halloween party.

I may have joined Technovation for a small Halloween party, but it gave me so much more. It taught me to be a capable leader, a confident speaker, and a better coder.

Technovation challenges young girls to not only make a difference in their community, but it also challenges them to expand their horizons. Being a team player as well as a leader is crucial in being an effective communicator and learner. It teaches you to be an open listener as well as an effective contributor. I was not the same speaker I was three years ago. Being able to stand in front of a room with people and give a pitch was not something I was comfortable with. But over time and practice, I was able to present and vocalize in a way that projected a confident and intelligent personality. Every girl deserves to feel confident and intelligent. That confidence helped me the most during interviews for internships and other things. Towards the end of my first internship, I was introduced to Mike Rolih, who gave me my next internship. I remember him asking me what my superpower is. I thought for a while, and the first thing that came into my mind was ‘my words’. My words, my voice, that is what got me here. One of the main reasons why I am up here today, is because my words can make a difference. Just as your words and your voices can! That is something that this program taught me. And that is also something that I will use for the rest of my life. Your words, your voice is what is going to solve problems in our world. Without Technovation, I truly could not have gotten these internships. I could not have gotten this amazing opportunity to speak to all of you here today. Another interesting thing that I found, was that mobile app development helped me get a mentorship at Mayo Clinic. More particularly, it helped me get a mentorship in a research lab where I would not be working on anything that was technology related. The mentorship was in the Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The reason I got the mentorship, was because during the interview, I told my mentor that I participated in a program called Technovation. After telling her that the apps were indeed on the app store for Android, she promptly took out her phone and proceeded to look the apps up. She was impressed that both of the apps that I created were health related, and saw that I was willing to use my skills in technology to solve problems in medicine. I proceeded to tell her that I wanted to go into medicine and use my coding skills to create a program or app that will allow physicians to perform their jobs better. She was thoroughly impressed and I was offered the mentorship.

My message to all the young girls here: you don’t have to commit to a technology related career. By participating in a program that encourages mobile app development, you are not tied down to that field. You can use the skills gained from this program to help better other fields, may that be the health sciences, the environment, or something else. By doing that you are going to make a bigger impact. Expand your horizons. Be the person that people talk about for generations. Be the one that other young girls aspire to be.

You don’t have to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerburg. Be the next you!

And that’s all that matters.