I was paired with Soumaya via a unique cultural and professional exchange program, TechWomen (an initiative of the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs), working in partnership with the Institute of International Education and the Anita Borg Institute.
The goal of TechWomen is to empower high-potential technical women, “bringing emerging women leaders in technology sectors from the Middle East and North Africa together with their American counterparts for a professional mentorship and exchange program at leading US companies”. TechWomen was created by pairing US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy” with 21st Century Statecraft”.
This year’s 42 TechWomen participants are from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia and Yemen and take part in a 5-week mentoring program at leading companies in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, including Juniper Networks.
At Juniper, we are hosting four amazing women including my mentee Soumaya Benbartaoui, as well as Lina Akiki from Lebanon, Rash Al-Hawash from Palestinian Territories, and Maria Salama from Egypt.
While at Juniper, Soumaya has focused on learning all she can about cloud computing and how to secure the cloud computing infrastructure. Ultimately she aims to create her own cloud company back in Algeria. She’s had an amazing experience at Juniper’s HQ in Sunnyvale, met many Juniper engineers and leaders, immersed herself into all things cloud, and gained insight into how a global technology company operates. As my shadow, Soumaya has sat in on internal and external business meetings, where she has seen firsthand what it’s like to work in a fast-paced Silicon Valley company, balance a heavy workload, manage a team, all the while maintaining a positive working attitude.
In addition to her Juniper internship, Soumaya has had a cultural mentor, attended workshops, networking events, conferences, and meetings in the Bay Area and Washington, D.C. She even made it to Disneyland and Universal Studios! Her multi-week experience in the US will conclude next week at the Grace Hopper Conference in Baltimore along with a visit to the US State Department to meet the TechWomen program sponsor, Secretary Hilary Clinton.
This has been an incredible experience for me and I am looking forward to mentoring more TechWomen participants in the future.
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