Microsoft NYC Women’s Leadership Conference 2019
As I began my early morning trek to the Great Neck train station on a cold morning, I had yet the slightest clue of what the coming seven hours would have in store for me. While I had been accepted to the community ambassador program and spoken to Laurie on the phone prior to this morning, this would be my first time meeting her and some of the other members of her team in person. The prospect of today excited me, but I also felt a sense of nervousness surrounding my first day as a community ambassador. I believed that the Microsoft NYC Women’s Leadership Conference would represent a fantastic opportunity to surround with a number of accomplished, brave, and gifted women. I feared that these women might have little time for a high school sophomore like myself. Fortunately, my first proved itself to be undoubtedly accurate, while the latter did not.
From the moment I walked through the glass doors on 46th Street, off of 6th Avenue, I was simultaneously blown away by the hundreds of brilliant women and I was heart warmed by how welcomed each woman that I came across made sure I felt. Just a 16-year-old high school student in a room full of professionals, I was made to feel as if I truly belonged. I listened with awe to a galvanizing speech by Sophia Nelson about female empowerment that tracked from her book, The Woman Code, and an uplifting address by World Champion Julie Chu detailing her experiences as a four-time member of the United States Olympic women’s ice hockey team. I felt incredibly moved and motivated. As Julie Chu stated in her powerful talk, it should not be considered strange or unusual to see a woman working or succeeding anywhere, whether it’s in the tech industry or the hockey rink. She emphasized the importance of asking questions and working hard, regardless of how confused or nervous you may feel as you walk into an unfamiliar or overwhelming environment. Julie Chu’s message, in particular, hit home for me, as I strove to balance the jitters that came from entering this unfamiliar environment with the opportunity for experience and knowledge that came along with it. Not only was I able to experience these uplifting speeches, but I was also given the opportunity to introduce myself to impressive women and even get my own professional headshots taken. As I waited in line for my headshot, I began talking to the woman in front of me. In fact, from long conversations both before and after our photos were taken, I learned that this woman is straight out of college and currently holds the position as the marketing manager of the Microsoft Azure product. As I left to say goodbye, we exchanged numbers and she notified me that I should contact her at anytime for any advice or help on my journey. At that moment, I felt what the future had in store for me, and it felt good.