Women Who Code Conversations 60 | Spotify - iTunes - Google - YouTube Anna Shur-Wilson, Program Manager for the Career Navigation Track at Women Who Code, and Grecia Castaldi, Program Manager, Digital Community at Women Who Code, discuss Connect LATAM. They share their previous experiences, why language accessibility is important, and tips on managing networking information.AS: Can you tell us a little bit about how the Latin-American community at Women Who Code started? GC: I am from and live in Mexico. Before joining as a Women Who Code team member, I was a Director of the Monterey Network. That's a city in Mexico. We have 10 more communities. We have 11 in total who speak Spanish. They are located all over Latin America. We have networks in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Spain, and in some other countries as well. All of those communities and volunteers are creating Spanish content all the time. They have great topics and great events. We want to reach more people who can be part of these communities. AS: You and I worked together on some Spanish language track events. Both of these experiences made us realize that there was a huge audience. What did you take away from those experiences? GC: Three years ago, we had an event in Merida, Mexico. All of the Mexican communities joined and attended that event. It was amazing. That was my first experience collaborating with other networks. When the pandemic started, we had other collaborations, and then for Connect, we had, I think the first one was the panel with directors. We had this panel in Spanish. We invited some of our volunteers to share their experiences. It was a great event. People started asking for more content in Spanish. At the next conference, we had around four talks in Spanish. We invited some speakers that we already knew. We invited some of our volunteers. We had some interactive sessions as well. We had a great turnout from our Spanish-speaking communities. That's why we wanted to do more, to have more events.You mentioned the track events that we had. You organized one of them. Would you like to talk about that?AS: I remember the first career NAV event we had in Spanish. It was about becoming an engineering manager. We didn't know what to expect. People that are Spanish speaking at home often have to work in English. That was the case for our speaker. She was a bit nervous about presenting in Spanish for the first time. The response was overwhelming, and people didn't stop sending questions to her for days after the event. It was such a special opportunity. I know many of our members also work in Spanish and live in Spanish. When you are bilingual, you can feel like you have two different personalities based on the language you're speaking. The idea of helping speakers that have to work in English to get to talk about that in their native language is so cool to me. It turned into Connect Latam. What were you thinking as Women Who Code announced we would do this official conference for the first time? GC: I was dreaming of this moment. It's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding. We can connect with many people, not only from Latin America but also from other parts of the world.AS: You can see how excited the volunteers are. It's inspirational to work with them. Let's talk about programming because it is a Connect conference. We are planning similar things, but also some differences. What can people expect from this conference? GC: If you have attended any of our Connect conferences, it's something very similar. It will have a different audience. We are trying to focus on some of the topics that are important to our Latin-American members. Many of our members in Latin America want to work in an international company. They are looking for a job, maybe in English, maybe in another language. They have questions about what is needed to apply to get a job. We are trying to cover topics that are important to them. English is an important topic. We all speak Spanish, and the event will be in Spanish, but we will learn English to have better opportunities. We are also trying to do something about English in the technology industry. AS: That is what is making me excited about this conference. I'm from the United States. I've been trained in the United States. I've always gotten to work with people from many different countries, which is so exciting. That's my perspective while we do some of the career navigation programming. There will be talks about negotiating salary, getting promoted, CVs, and resumes. These are things that are different from country to country or region to region. Women Who Code has been so supportive of me, a non-native speaker. I feel so comfortable speaking Spanish with everyone. If people want to practice English, this is such a welcoming and warm community. You should attend. You'll be able to pick things up regardless of your language level.GC: Everyone is welcome here. They can come and listen, practice, and make connections. No matter where you live or what language you speak, you can make connections with other people and practice your technical and language skills.AS: How do you feel about the potential social impact of this event? GC: I'm starting to hear comments from volunteers and members that they feel listened to. I think you connect better with the people who speak your language. This is an opportunity to meet new people and to showcase their experiences. They can also apply to be speakers. It might be the first time they speak at a big event like this. AS: This event speaks to the Women Who Code mission of empowering diverse women in tech. I spend a lot of time thinking about linguistic diversity and how to make sure everyone feels heard. The content is what matters, no matter how you say it. This is an exciting opportunity for us to open the doors to people to be heard for the first time. We want to make things accessible. GC: Women Who Code always has a welcoming community. No matter what language you speak, you can come, and someone will be there supporting you. AS: People get slightly overwhelmed with virtual conferences. I love them. Do you have any tips for making the most of a virtual conference? GC: We always have this networking feature or ways of connecting with people. My project is for everyone to use this feature or try to connect with people. It can be using chat or following people on LinkedIn. There are many ways you will do some networking, and you can find great opportunities. Always try to connect with people, to chat with them. Keep interacting with people. That's the benefit of being part of a community and also attending a major event like this one.AS: It's a good skill to keep sharp, to call people or reach out to people that you've never met in person. In this community, everyone will always accept your request and probably respond to you too. After every single conference or event, I always have six or seven LinkedIn requests. I love it. A volunteer recently told me that after she goes to a virtual conference, she uses a Google sheet. She put the name of the person, something identifying, so that at least when she did reach out, she could be like, I loved how you talked about applying machine learning practices to advancing the social cause. What do you think about that? Have you ever done something like that? GC: That's a great tip. I like when they connect with me when they mention where we met. AS: You started as a volunteer. Through that transition, what has Women Who Code meant to you? GC: I joined Women Who Code for the first time because I wanted to be a part of a community of women who were working on things like I was doing. We could talk about tech but also about situations in the workplace being a woman. I made really good friends while I was a volunteer. The mission was so important to me that I looked to work as a full-time member. I have been here for a year. I'm happy that I am making an impact on more women around the world. With events like this, with opportunities like these, I can connect with people from Latin America.AS: It's the global nature of Women Who Code that made me want to work here. Being able to work on a Spanish-language event is an absolute dream. I've been studying Spanish for a long time, but I don't use it daily. Working in another language is an experience that I feel everyone, who's interested, should have. It provides professional development, and it takes your skills to another level.GC: It's a free event. Make sure to invite your friends, colleagues, or anyone who might be interested. If you don't speak Spanish, you can join anyway, but you can invite your friends who can speak Spanish so that they can join and they can connect with other people in Latin America.