8 Women can help me to solve my Enigma

Joan_Clarke_(cryptanalyst)I just watched “The Imitation Game” by Morten Tyldum.

I am not going to positively or negatively criticise it: we all know that it doesn’t tell the real story of Alan Turing. Or, it tells it in a soft and cinematic way.

However, it made me think of Joan Clarke and how women can be smart, great problem solvers and still feminine at the same time, how their working behind the scenes is often fundamental. So then I started reflecting about my past couple of weeks.

I subscribed to Ada’s List about a month ago. After a couple of days that I lost my job, at the beginning of February, I wrote a message to the googlegroups, telling my story. It was about the second ever message I wrote to the group, after the introduction post. The message was short, as my intention was only asking if someone knew someone else who was looking for a digital strategist or entry roles in marketing and community engagement.

In 3 weeks I didn’t find a full time job: I found much more.

I found strong, smart, competent and powerful women ready to give me a hand without knowing me, not even virtually.

katKat Farrants is the founder of Movement For Modern Life, a platform for yoga lectures in streaming. She was also the first lady that welcomed me into the list, and the first who wrote me after reading my message. She gave me some freelance graphic design work to do (I am not a “professional” graphic designer, and also I know that on Fiverr she could have found someone cheaper for sure) for her communication campaign.

euniceEunice Ball, founder of Africa Technology Business Network (forum designed to build a bridge between the tech communities in the UK and Africa) was the second lady that sent me a message after my first introduction, and the second to reply to my unemployment message. She got me a free ticket for her event “Unlocking opportunities in Africa through business and technology” and also asked me to speak at “Learning From Your Mistakes #FounderStories” , a meetup of The Pulse next Tuesday.

anaAna Alberts is the founder of Charub.org, an app that lets users select businesses to advertise on their personal social profiles; for each click on the advert the businesses give money to the charities chosen by the user. Brilliant, isn’t it? Ana offered to fund my ticket for the +SocialGood UK Summit by Mashable, as I couldn’t afford it but I was very interested in the event; in exchange for the huge favour I will help her with Charub’s content strategy (and I am excited about it!).

iramIram Quraishi, the Project Manager of Loop Labs, got in contact with me through another amazing list member, Katz Kiely. Loop Labs create digital solutions to city challenges through Experience Design, and since a week I am their part-time intern. They got me on board even if they knew that I will go on with my job hunt. It’s really impressive. I am working on the content strategy and community engagement with Kabelo Thomo and Graham Brown-Martin of a very challenging and innovative project which will bring science and innovation into local communities through Experience Design. Follow us to know more 😉

Ada’s List is really an amazing network full of AWESOME ladies. I receive the Daily Digest and, trust me, I open it every day. I have never done it before with any other Daily Digest.

In addition, during the past week I got in contact with other four young, multitasking and professional ladies that demonstrated me attention and care, even if they didn’t really know me: Silvija Jordanovska of TechMeetups (a global network of Tech Startup communities), Sinead Mac Manus of Fluency*, Yasmin Desai of Monkfeet** and Erika Brodnock of KarismaKidz***.

silvija

I dropped Silvija an email about a week ago, telling her that I was willing to give her a hand for the event she was organising last Thursday, the “TechStartups Jobs Fair” (#TSJFair), even if I could have only helped her during the event, because during the afternoon I would have been at another event (see below). When I arrived on location she welcomed me with a big smile, the same smile that said “see you later” to me when I left 🙂 . Letting me tweeting about the event got me many contacts and followers, so, in a way, it’s actually Silvija that helped me.

sinead

*One of the participant to the Tech Startups Job Fair was Fluency, which offers four-week courses to young people in areas like social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, web analytics and more. Its founder, Sinead, is also part of Ada’s List. I presented myself saying that I was Francesca from the list, and she remembered my email about my lost job. She was extremely kind and empathic, even if she never met me before as well. Impressive.
Yaz D**Monkfeet offers high quality courses, workshops and meetings about business, corporate, startups, SEO and other professional topics. About a month ago I participated to “How To Make A Professional Corporate Video With Your iPhone“. After the lesson the instructor uploaded some resource materials and I got an email from Monkfeet, but there were some issues with the interface, so I tweeted to Monkfeet just to warn them about that issue. They were very grateful and kind to me and also told me that they were willing to help me in any ways, as an exchange for a tweet! People are amazing. Last Tuesday I went to their (+ Rainmaking Loft‘s) “Investors On Stage with Federico Pirzio-Biroli of Playfair Capital“, another very interesting event, and I was so happy to find out that behind of Monkfeet there was actually a woman, Yasmin! She was super kind and told me to send her my CV, so if she will hear about startups hiring she will contact me. Again: she doesn’t really know me. It’s incredible how women can be so open and welcoming.

Erika_cropped-300x300

***Finally, on Thursday afternoon I went to KPTG‘ s “Best of British Mobile Startups“, where I found out about Karisma Kidz, a fabulous app aiming at developing emotional intelligence in children aged 3-9. I saw the presentation by its founder, Erika, and immediately felt her confidence an power, as well as her femininity and kindness. I went to speak with her to congratulate with her, and she asked me my contacts for future collaborations. It might not end with anything, but for me it was a honour.

So, yeah. I am still looking for a full-time job. My Enigma to solve is how to find a job before the beginning of March, and I am starting to be worried.

Nevertheless, all those women of different ages and at different stages of their career gave me a great strength and inspired me to go on and do not give up.

Thank you, beautiful ladies.

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Turning 29 in #LDN during the age of #Unemployment and #TechCity

keep-calm-youre-only-29-10Hi everyone!

Yes, it has been a long time. Precisely, 20 months and 12 days since my last post. Wow!

I don’t particularly like blogging (you can easily get that). I mean, I am an active subscriber to many, and I am a Digital Strategist aspiring to become a Growth Hacker. Let me rephrase that: I do not really like writing blog posts.

Today (well, yesterday, actually, the 8th) was my 29th birthday. 29 is usually an awful number. It is almost 30, although it is not really 30 yet, but it is still “getting there”. So you basically feel older than you actually are.

For me it has been a week of revelation, though.

On Monday I lost my job. It wasn’t a “proper” job, as we immigrants are used to say. It was an Internship, but, still: I had a 3The-Lean-Startup months contract with an early stage startup, which ended up to be a less-than-a month job.

It was not the first startup I was working for, and, anyway, I have been studying and researching on startups for ages. So, yes, I know that “most start-ups fail” and “most new products are not successful”. But, also, I knew that “the story of perseverance, creative genius, and hard work persists”, so I thought that my startup would have gone on (E.Ries, 2012).

It did not. It was a kind of a shock for me (and my colleagues, too).

Straight after that I basically had 2 choices: either get drunk or stay positive. This time I chose to stay positive.

iyaffullorigcoloursMy choice was probably helped by 2 fresh experiences of mine: mentoring the MACE Students at a workshop in collaboration with the International Youth Arts Festival, and an introduction course on coaching held by the Coaching Academy.

What did I do in order to stay positive?

1 – I spent the first two days on “market research” (job hunting, of course).

2 – Once I got to know which job adverts suited me, according to my skills, I started to make a massive research about the companies that were looking for those skills.

3 – I made a selection of those companies, mainly using as terms of evaluation each company and members’ (founders and directors) expertise, core focus and USP, because “as you climb the ladder of success, be sure it’s leaning against the right building” (H. Jackson Brown, JrI – or probably Anonymous, but, still, the quote gives you the idea).

4 – I picked each company one by one and went further into my research, trying to get as many information as possible from wherever on the web.guerrilla markting

5 – I wrote customised cover letters. When I say “customised” I do not mean just changing the names on the recipient. That is what many companies do when they send emails and, frankly, I, as a customer, I feel like they assume that I am an idiot. Anyway, of course part of the contents were the same – I am still the same person with the same skills and experience  -. In a way, I took that particular task as if I was trying to get my customers’ attention. I am a Guerrilla Marketing passionate, so I even used some of its methods to write my cover letters.Last, but not least, I was completely honest.

Many people told me that in applications you have to “fake” it a little bit. Because…everybody does that, so every employer expects that you actually “pimp” your CV. Well, I have never felt comfortable with that. So I actually never did it, but I guess I did it a bit in my cover letters, apart from last week. Last week I was completely natural and honest.

OLD STREET ROUNDABOUT6 – In less than 1 week I got 3 interview out of 5 applications to Tech City startup jobs that I completed. You might think that it is a small number, but it took me more than 3 hours between researching, coming up with each cover letter, and actually click on “send”.

I have no idea if those companies will take me on board. I mean, I made probably a great impression, but sometimes it is not enough.

However, I am so happy. I am still unemployed, and very conscious about that (I am not going to book any holiday at the Hawaii Islands, for instance), but I am very confident that London will give me a job (aka internship, which for me is still a job) in less than 2 weeks. It might not, but , as Walter Cronkite said, “success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles”. My strongest principle above all is honesty.