JJ DiGeronimo created Tech Savvy Women to help bring together women in tech, build relationships and to advocate for one another’s career goals.
DiGeronimo, the president of Tech Savvy Women, came from Buffalo, New York to Ohio University with a desire to learn and find career opportunities. After graduating with a Communication Systems Management degree, DiGeronimo landed her first Information Technology position in 1995. With a vision and dedication she poured herself into her professional journey, which has taken many exciting twists and turns throughout the years.
Often one of the only women at the table, DiGeronimo created Tech Savvy Women in 2008 to connect women in technology. DiGeronimo is known for her leadership skills and promoting inclusion in tech workplaces. “Tech Savvy Women is commonplace for women in tech to communicate,” DiGeronimo said.
While at Ohio University, DiGeronimo took the time to excel in the classroom and scheduled meetings with college advisors to prepare for the future. “I had very specific discussions with my advisors about degrees and job offers. Many shared that computers and the related degrees were a solid choice,” DiGeronimo said. “I did really well in my classwork which helped me align internships early, as professors recommended me. Those internships lead to many offers.”
Although tech is a great career option, there are fewer women that pursue technology or stem-based careers than their male counterparts. The organization was originally meant to bring women together and have a strong network in Northeast Ohio, but has evolved into a group of women, over 2,500 nationwide, which allows them to share ideas, network and connect.
“We’ve helped each other get jobs, references, and other opportunities,” DiGeronimo said. “It’s made the industry seem smaller because we have more people connected in more places.”
As the organization has evolved, DiGeronimo has written two award-winning books to help elevate women in the workplace. From this success, she has been asked to keynote locally and nationally to positively impact the field of technology. She speaks to women about advancing their professional objectives and speaks with tech organizations on how to cultivate male allies to promote diversity. “Diversity is business impact tool and companies are striving to not only get women at the table but have them as equal contributors,” DiGeronimo said. “This takes advancements on both sides.”
Throughout DiGeronimo’s work she has shared strategies to elevate women into leadership positions while guiding them through common career challenges. Her second book, Accellerate Your Impact, has given readers a playbook to glide through some of the challenges women have faced in the past.
DiGeronimo has numerous blogs, videos and posts with advice for women working to advance with their careers. “Women generally wait (to apply) until they’re 100 percent qualified, men apply when they have 60 percent of the requirements,” DiGeronimo said. “You don’t have to check every single requirement for the job, and you should not. There is little opportunity to learn and grow if you only apply to jobs you feel confident you can land.”
Through all of DiGeronimo’s research, she’s found that career catalysts are necessary for women to align leadership positions and shares the three most important.
DiGeronimo believes in professional coaching to get their professional goals straight, document and defined. “I think more women need to pay for professional coaching to help them get their ducks in a row,” DiGeronimo said.
Having a mentor that will focus on providing advice and guidance as professionals move through the many stages of their careers is a necessity for female and male professionals. Mentors will often give advice while you’re with them to help with personal career journeys.
The final catalyst DiGeronimo recommends are sponsors, professionals that leverage their own social capital to help cultivate desired goals. A sponsor could setting up a meeting on your behalf or connecting you with other professionals in the field. Sponsors are often the best career catalyst, according to DiGeronimo.
“I think women are taught to work really hard but it’s important to network and develop relationships,” DiGeronimo said. “Make time to foster an effective network, get to conferences and get out of the office and do things for yourself. Anything you can do for yourself outside of the office, in a meaningful way to advance your career is important.”
DiGeronimo believes women with an interest in solving problems, adding value and continuing to learn should consider a career in tech. She reasons this with the possibility of great financial gain, endless opportunity and the ability to work with great people.
DiGeronimo is an active LinkedIn user and leverages the tool in many ways to connect, learn and showcase her personal work. She encourages young professionals to bundle their value and continue to develop their professional connections. JJ DiGeronimo can also be found on Youtube, and on her website.
Interview by LynAnne Vucovich : A journalist who studied at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She has a passion for culture, community and cats.