Fresh off obtaining her master’s degree in user experience (UX) design, Alaa Shahin knew she wanted to continue her education in technology. She went to YouTube and searched, “How to become an expert in any field.” She came across one of Google’s newest web series: Women Techmakers in 60 Seconds. Women Techmakers is a Google program focused on building more equity for women in technology around the world.
Alaa was intrigued, watched the WTM intro video and was eventually connected with a member from the team and admitted into the program. It was just the latest new opportunity for Alaa, who had lived in three different regions and learned two new languages before even figuring out what she wanted to do for a living.
She first discovered her love for technology while in high school in Syria — she liked it so much that she signed up for college-level web development and networking classes. Even though she was the only high schooler in her courses, she ended up at the top of her class. That success gave her a passion for representing women, and especially Muslim women, in the tech industry.
So she moved to Malaysia to take computer science courses, and eventually moved to the United States to continue her education. There, during a tutoring session for a writing class, she asked her tutor what she was studying, and that’s when she found out about UX design. “I didn’t even know what UX Design meant,” Alaa says. “Once she explained what it was, I realized it was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to combine all the skills that I had in technology and business while helping others, and using philosophy.” Even though Alaa was a junior, she decided to change majors and received her bachelor’s degree in UX Research and Design and her master’s shortly after.
Now, as a Women Techmakers Ambassador, Alaa says she has been exposed to great opportunities and learned a lot about herself. “The program has opened so many doors for me,” she says. “I’ve gone to my dream conferences and have even had a chance to share my journey and challenges with other women.” As a result of the program, Alaa has spoken at panels for WTM events and was a keynote speaker for International Women’s Day with a talk titled, “How daring to be non-traditional secured me a job".
You can meet more women like Alaa by joining Google's Women Techmakers program. As a member, you'll have access to resources like networking events, mentorship programs, technical training and scholarships. You'll also have the chance to apply for the Women Techmakers Ambassador program, which gives you the opportunity to represent Women Techmakers in your community. Sign up to become a member on our website.