Member Spotlight: VP External Michelle Wong
UW Blueprint is a student run club that provides top-tier tech for non-profit organizations. Founded at the University of Waterloo 2 years ago, we could not have provided strong partnerships with NPO’s without the dedication, passion, and time of our members. We’ll be spotlighting different members and teams. Some will be the returning members of Blueprint, having worked on several projects, and some will be new to the team as of a month ago, just starting their work with Blueprint.
What is your role as VP External?
My role as VP External focuses on cultivating Blueprint’s brand and external image. I am responsible for organizing all our public events and coordinating any collaborations with other clubs and organizations. I work to foster relationships in the greater tech community and grow our network and presence. I also work with our amazing Content Director to head up all of Blueprint’s marketing initiatives for events and recruitment!
As one of our members coming from a non-tech background: what made you want to get involved with Blueprint?
For those that don’t know, I’m majoring in Honours Speech Communication with a double minor in Digital Arts Communication and Social Development Studies. My first real introduction into the tech world and Blueprint was about a year ago through friends that were part of the organization at the time — I got to see some of the work they were doing and I thought it was really cool. However, being an Arts student, my main hesitation was not knowing if there was a place for me in the tech community and how to learn more as it wasn’t really my field of study or something I had done before.
As part of my DAC minor, this past winter I got the opportunity to take a UX course where I got to design, test, and prototype my very first mobile application. The course allowed me to learn fundamental skills in design and reaffirmed my interest in tech and my desire to learn. This is my last school term at UW so I figured I had nothing to lose by applying to Blueprint because this would be my last chance to do so and it had been something I’d wanted to do for a couple terms now but had always been too scared to do.
I was fortunate enough to be welcomed into this amazing community, and it’s been really great seeing all these talented individuals work together! I was drawn into the world of tech because I was fascinated by the idea of creating something out of literally nothing. Blueprint takes that to another level as we create with a purpose. The projects our team is working on has the power to make a real impact in the world around us and allows us to use our skills for the greater good which was something I thought was really incredible.
What have you learned so far from working with Blueprint?
Coming from a different background than most of our members, I entered Blueprint very unsure of my role and what I could really contribute. Over the past few terms I found an interest in digital marketing and public relations which is where I think I really strive. I applied for VP External as that was a role I felt I could do really well and had responsibilities I already had experience with. Since joining, I’ve been surrounded by so many talented designers and developers who are passionate about their work and using their skills to help one another. Blueprint really tries to create an environment where you can learn from each other and not be afraid to ask questions.
The team is comprised of students with a wide variety of experiences whether it be engineers turned PMs, devs turned designers, or people like me who came in with a completely different skill set. What being on this team has taught me is that there’s no boundaries or limits to what you can create and achieve as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. Keep an open mind to new experiences and as scary as it is doing something new, there’s so much to learn if you’re willing to explore. There’s also always people in the community who are willing to help you so you’re never really in it alone, all you have to do is ask!
For anyone coming from outside of a tech background that wants to get into tech, what would your advice to them be?
It’s going to be scary and you’re going to feel very unsure of yourself. I’m the type of person that likes to know what’s happening and be good at the things I do, so entering something that was unfamiliar to me was extremely scary. I was terrified at the idea of making a fool of myself or failing, but do it anyways.
You’re not going to learn if you don’t put yourself out there, and you’re not going to gain anything from being at home wondering what you could’ve done or what that experience might’ve been like. You just have to take the initiative and push yourself; what you’ll gain from it is so much bigger than your fear at that moment. There are also so many resources at your disposal so if it’s something you are really interested in, take it upon yourself to look into online courses, certifications, workshops, clubs and organizations such as Blueprint that will provide you with the opportunity to learn.
What has your favorite bonding memory with Blueprint been so far?
Definitely the retreat! As someone who came in not knowing anyone on the current team, one of the main things that drew me to Blueprint was their emphasis on culture. The retreat was a great opportunity for all of us who usually work in seperate groups and come from different backgrounds to relax, have fun, and get to know each other as people, outside of the projects that we work on. Blueprint has hands down been one of the best experiences in my time at UW and I’m honestly kicking myself for not having the courage to get involved earlier. I’m sad that I only had one term with this amazing team, but I’m very grateful I got to meet everyone and work with them even for such a short period of time. They continue to inspire me and push me to work harder every day.
Moving forward, what are your plans for the future?
In the fall, I’ll be returning to school where I’ll be starting my Master of Professional Communication at Ryerson University! I hope to continue to explore the world of tech and developing my skills in communications and marketing. If you’re ever in the city, hit me up for a coffee and chat!
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