This winter break I embarked on a quest to make the Pace Computing Society bigger than itself. In the process I was faced with challenges and disappointments but (kinda) accomplished what I set out to do. Over the intermission I wrote tons of emails, made several phone calls, and attended many events. With these activities I’ve learned how to make meaningful connections and get out there to make things happen.
I started my journey with the goal of getting guest speakers for every PCS meeting. I began by writing emails to celebrities who have invested in startup companies. I know it seems like an unreachable goal but I figured if you took a shot in the dark you might hit your target. Well, I didn’t hit my target but I did manage to graze a few people nearby. I emailed the managers of celebrities such as Nas, Andy Samberg, and Leonardo DiCaprio. That was when I was able to find their email. It was by pure luck and great search engine skills that I was able to find some of the managers’ contact info which I doubt were reliable. I mean I found Nas’s cell phone number in a matter of seconds…I don’t think it was his number. I did not get a response from their managers which was expected so I lowered my standards a bit.
Next, I contacted the CEO’s of big companies such as Twitter, Spotify, and Tumblr. Spotify was the only company that responded. The CEO’s assistant essentially said no, but that was enough encouragement I needed to get out there and email more companies. I then proceeded to email local startup companies. I figured if I got in the “I help you, you help me” mindset, companies would send speakers to us. In the email I asked them the send a representative, which would be a great opportunity to promote their business and garner users and revenue through our students. The next few days were followed by emails from the companies explaining how they were unable to speak at our meetings. I did get some success, however. Someone from the partnership department at WeWork contacted me and forwarded the email to the Director of Business Development there! He was willing to speak for our first meeting. Next came several speakers from companies such as BuzzFeed, General Assembly, HATCH, UNICEF, Strolby, IBM, and Uncubed who were willing to come. With every person that responded there were two companies that didn’t and with every one that did responded, half said no. There were some people that said they were willing to speak at PCS but when I sent an email to follow up they never responded.
With several speakers confirmed for the spring semester my next step was to broaden our audience and reach people who weren’t PCS members to have them attend our meetings. One way to do this was to contact local high schools. I tried a few but they declined the offer. However, the adviser of the Girls Who Code chapter at Brooklyn Tech offered me hope. They weren’t able to attend our meetings because of the conflicting times, but offered for me to speak at their first meeting. We were allowed only 3 minutes, so we had to be concise. Kendra, vice-president of PCS, and I went there and delineated what Pace University had to offer in NYC and the tech field, and explained the Stem Camp and Summer Scholars program. Afterwards we offered them gifts. The teacher was very grateful and told me to send her more information on the summer programs. That event made me feel as though the publicizing of our club was an essential way to get us known to people who would not have known us otherwise. This motivated me.
The break is starting to come to an end but I still aim to continue finding more speakers, events, and business opportunities for the members of PCS. This week I was planning on going to a Lunch Talk where I will practice my sketch noting skills in order to glean information to pass on to the members. Furthermore, I will be going to Playtest Thursdays at NYU Poly to perhaps procure more attendees for our events and get more ideas and connections. In addition, I will be attending a hackathon, sponsored by Spotify, to gain experience and exposure that I will share with other PCS members. I would not have thought a few months ago that PCS would be where it is now but I pulled a few strings, made it happen, and now we’re known by a bunch a girls at Brooklyn Tech, the speakers I’ve invited, people who saw me steal food at the WWC meeting, and soon the world.
-Zakiya Sims, 1st year Computer Science at The Seidenberg School & treasurer, PCS.