Updated: Dec 12, 2022
It is November 2019. I am about to celebrate living in Geneva, Switzerland for a whole year. I am unemployed and full of nerves, I stand at the door of the Women in Digital Switzerland Geneva chapter Monthly Meetup. It's not the first time I've been to a networking event, but it's the first time I've been to a networking event in a new country. I feel pretty shy and self-conscious because I didn't know anyone, lucky for me, I meet the woman who would later become my boss, Julia Borkenhagen, at the door and she is super friendly and welcoming. I immediately feel at ease I am able to watch a great set of talks and meet some of the women who would later become close friends of mine through volunteering.
2020 was a very difficult year for me and although in that year I did a lot for my career I think at the time I felt really lost and helpless in times of not knowing what steps to take being through the pandemic, being unemployed and being rejected for everything I applied for. I remember just feeling like I was a failure. At a virtual networking event, I met another WDS volunteer, Jia-Ying Guan, who introduced me to Karen Bhavnani, who is now the Vice President of Women in Digital Switzerland. I actually met Karen at the networking event that I first attended, back in 2019. I ended up working on a project for them, and in the end, this project resulted in me doing a professional MBA with the Roxbourg Institute of Social Entrepreneurship and winning a gold medal with the team.
Although as a volunteer, I focus on giving my time to help others, I ended up growing hugely during these last two years. When I look at the person I was before and compare that with the person I've become, I am astounded at the confidence, leadership skills, self-advocacy, and initiative that I have gained from volunteering. Without Women in Digital Switzerland, I don't think I ever would have been able to achieve all this on my own. Although in front of you, you just see a website, to me, this website represents a career transition. From being a market researcher, who didn't know how to stand up for herself and put forward her ideas, who let other people walk all over her. To a UX designer, who knows what she wants and knows that she has a huge amount to offer.
When I first started working on the new Women in Digital Switzerland website, I thought of it as just a website. But now I think of this as an online meeting place, where our amazing community can get together to exchange ideas, and support each other. Together, we can make sure that the underemployment of talented women who are more than capable of watching in the digital sector will cease to be a problem. Being new and unemployed in Switzerland is hard, I know this because I've done it. But I hope that this website will be a place of connection for those who just arrived. I also hope that for those who have achieved a lot already and have great careers, it will be a place to meet our community and perhaps one day, walk alongside them. I also want it to be a place for the students who are just starting out, to ask for guidance, connect with others and share their ideas and initiatives.
The Women in Digital Switzerland Community will be able to offer so much. I hope you can join and support this organization, so that we can do the incredible work that's helped me and so many others.
Happy browsing and I look forward to meeting you in the community!
Rachael Camp, UX and Creative Lead at Women in Digital Switzerland