During a long first month of my senior year, I began to get caught in a routine and schedule on the weekends with loads of homework, lack of sleep, and no social life. While I could have stayed home for another weekend, I instead opted to attend the SoGal Startup Bootcamp in Los Angeles alongside GenHERation Founder & CEO Katlyn Grasso and two other local high school girls, Rebecca K. and Jessica A., on Sept. 25 and 26. The two-day event touched on topics of entrepreneurship, technology, and diversity – three topics that I am passionate about – but most importantly, the event was targeted towards women. As a student at an all-girls school, I know how important it is to have opportunities like these to learn and grow as a person with the help of women around me who have similar goals and aspirations.
The seminars at the event were categorized into three different areas: Entrepreneurial Skills, Startup Success, and Lifestyle Hacks. With almost forty different workshops, attendees had the opportunity to learn something new under the theme of women in entrepreneurship. I attended seminars that touched on numerous topics including web development, speaking unapologetically, successful startup pitches, and finding the right mentor.
One of the first seminars that I attended was a fireside chat with True Religion Jeans cofounder Kym Gold. Kym spoke candidly and openly about breaking into the fashion industry and the ups and downs of starting a business. Not only did she provide insight into her life as an entrepreneur, she also shared details about her personal life which allowed the audience, including myself, to connect with her more closely. Kym’s perseverance and drive inspired me to strive for greatness and to never settle for anything less. Her confidence was refreshing and influential. “Be the first to be first, not the first to be second,” Kym said. The mentality of being my best self and pushing my limits to reach my goals further motivated me to look past the difficulties of anything that I do because being the first to be first in anything I do is worth it and rewarding in the end.
On the last day, GenHERation CEO Katlyn presented an insightful presentation on empowering 15,000 millennial girls. Katlyn’s motto: “If you can see it, you can be it,” allows millennial girls to aspire to be leaders. GenHERation gives girls access and opportunities to work with national corporations and nonprofit organizations to advocate for social causes. Not only did she educate the audience on the astonishingly low number of women who hold leadership positions in the U.S. but she also touched on the power of persistence and how to create the perfect pitch in selling a product. Throughout the weekend, I learned about her as a person and her passions for empowering girls. Her passion and dedication inspired me to want to become more involved with GenHERation and further explore entrepreneurship as a field of study in college.
At the end of the weekend, I took away knowledge and skills necessary for starting a business and breaking into an industry as a female entrepreneur. Most importantly, I networked with women who were passionate about making a difference in our society by starting their own businesses. I felt empowered by their determination and aspirations, enough to think of my own; and know that in this journey, I am not alone.
Contributor: Carina Oriel