Tysons, VA

Though the prospect of looking for a career might be daunting during a pandemic, a Falls Church-based group is hosting a virtual job fair this week to help people looking for jobs in STEM.

Women in Technology, a group that aims to get women “from the classroom to the board room,” invites anyone seeking a job in the science, technology, engineering or math fields to an online event on Thursday (June 25) where they can network with hiring managers at various companies.

Registration is free for job seekers, the site said. The event will be held from 4-7 p.m. and people can register online.

All ages and experience levels, including students, are welcome, the page said, adding there will be roughly 15 exhibitors at the event.

Throughout the year, the organization will also host various awards ceremonies and training opportunities for women in the STEM field, the website said.

“The great thing is we can reach more people with this being virtual and additionally, no traffic nor weather to affect the participation numbers,” WIT member Cristine Gollayan said. “Many have lost jobs due to COVID and we are hoping that this fair will assist those in the community.”

Photo courtesy Cristine Gollayan

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A Vienna learning center is helping out kids in need by temporarily supplying them with laptops during this era of online learning.

Stemtree of Vienna typically offers four different science, technology and engineering courses for students but decided to loan laptops to students throughout the community who don’t have access to computers for online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its Facebook page.

The center’s curriculum director Abdelghani Bellaachia said that the program distributed roughly 10 laptops in the last few weeks and still has availability for students in need. He added that a student doesn’t have to meet any criteria for the free laptop loan besides being in need and a promise to treat the equipment with respect.

Though families might have one or two laptops to share between kids, Bellaachia said he understands this might not meet the demand of online school. “We understand families might need an extra laptop.”

The center has been working with public schools like Westbriar Elementary School in Vienna to ensure the needs are being met, according to Bellaachia.

Anyone interested can register online and then set up a time to pick it up by calling (703) 281-STEM (7836) or sending an email.

All laptops must be returned by June 10 so the center has its equipment to start summer camps on June 15 under the first phase of the reopening plan set forth by Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Health, Bellaachia said.

Students in the camps will be with peers in groups of 10 or less and have designated equipment for the week, according to Bellaachia, so families and the center can limit risk.

Photo via Stemtree/Facebook

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A group headquartered in Falls Church aims to get women “from the classroom to the board room” by offering developmental resources and networking opportunities.

With more than 1,000 members, the Women in Technology group (200 Little Falls Street) operates around the D.C. area and works with a large variety of age groups — including young girls and women at the height of their careers, according to its website.

“Our scope is to really network and support the advancement of women and girls in this specific area to enter STEM fields,” recently elected Board Member Cristine Gollayan said. “It’s for girls and women at any stage of their life.”

Gollayan’s own story with the group began around 2013 when she said she attended an event and eventually worked her way up the group’s leadership ladder.

Since then, she also served on the job fair committee board and was eventually elected into the WIT’s Board of Directors in 2018.

Gollayan currently works in Herndon as a senior manager for Sony’s Global Information Security team and said events hosted by WIT take place throughout the area, including Tysons — a central location for many of the organization’s volunteers.

WIT has several representatives, who happen to be women of color, on both its board of directors and the executive committee. But, the group doesn’t offer specific programs targeting women of color or transgender women.

Gollayan also said anyone who identifies as a woman is more than welcome to join.

“Anything we promote, we try to ensure that diversity and inclusion is an important piece,” she said.

Two of Gollayan’s favorite events include the leadership awards ceremony and STEM for Her Gala, which Gollayan also said she helps to plan, because the women at both of the events are “so poised and ready to rock and rule the world,” she said.

Other events run by the group include two seasonal job fairs a year, the Leadership Foundry and Girls in Technology. A full list of offerings can be found online.

For example, the Leadership Foundry is a nine-month-long program that teaches women to run board meetings and take on positions of power within their own companies. So far, 20 alumnae from the program have ended up on boards within a corporation, according to Gollayan.

Meanwhile, Girls in Technology is a subgroup within WIT that targets young girls considering careers in STEM.

The CyberPatriot Girls is a program through Girls in Technology that takes 6th-12th-grade girls and challenges them to participate in a “fast-paced and high-pressure” simulation that resembles a mock cyber-attack, according to Gollayan. It is hosted in partnership with the Air Force and the University of Maryland. In the activity, girls form teams and are expected to “protect national infrastructure” while learning technical skills, she said.

For people interested in the group, the next upcoming event, WIT.Connect, is coming up.

On Feb. 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., people will gather at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) to network and learn about upcoming technological trends in healthcare. Attendees will have the chance to hear from speakers and WIT members.

Registration is $45 for WIT members or $55 for non-members.

Photo courtesy Cristine Gollayan

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Morning Notes

Video: Students Brawl at McLean McDonald’s — Cell phone video shows dozens of students from McLean and Langley high schools brawling in the McDonald’s at the corner of Old Dominion Drive and Dolley Madison Blvd. No one was reported injured from the fracas, which happened Friday night after a basketball game between the two rival schools. [Fox 5]

McLean Community Center Closing Early — In addition to the early dismissal for Fairfax County Public Schools, other weather-related early closings are being announced today. Among them: the McLean Community Center is cancelling all classes that begin at or after 1 p.m. [Twitter]

Fairfax No. 2 on Va. Net Worth Rankings — “Fairfax County is ranked #2 in a SmartAsset study showing the top 10 Virginia counties with the highest net worths. Despite having the highest per capita income on the list, Loudoun County came in only at #7 due to also carrying a significantly higher per capita debt burden, also the highest on the list.” [Fairfax Times]

Potomac School Student is Top Science Talent — “Carolyn Beaumont, a senior at the Potomac School, has been named a Top 40 Finalist in the 78th Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high-school seniors.” [InsideNova]

FCEDA Touts New Businesses, Jobs — “In 2018, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) worked with 143 businesses that announced the addition of more than 8,900 jobs to the Fairfax County economy.” [Fairfax County EDA]

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