How Shaping Young Lives Shaped Me

by: Caitlyn Deegan

My name is Caitlyn Deegan and I have had countless positions and roles in MakerGirl.  I have dedicated the last four years to growing the company and for fighting for something I deeply believe in.  This past May, I graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor of science in Materials Science and Engineering and with a minor in business.  I am currently working as a Manufacturing Excellence coordinator for one of the largest spirits companies in the world, Diageo, in a three year management program.  People always ask me how my job connects to my degree and why I chose to pursue a program like this after studying materials engineering for four years.  MakerGirl, the company, the experience, and the people are what brought me to where I am today and I could not be more appreciative to have been a part of this amazing organization for so long.  

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I started working for MakerGirl as a freshman in college when I heard about the startup through a friend, and that they were searching for passionate women in STEM fields to help send a message to young girls.  I immediately jumped in and the co-founders Julia Haried and Elizabeth Engele did not hesitate to throw me in.  The summer after that year I was running the UIUC section of the company through the iVenture Accelerator on campus.  Working for MakerGirl that summer truly changed my life forever.  I learned how to run a startup and was introduced to many different business aspects like finances and marketing that I was never exposed to in my engineering classes.  After pitching the company all summer and hiring my own team I realized I was passionate about this for so many other reasons and wanted to learn more.  That is when I decided to get a minor in business, to learn as much as I could before graduation.  
 

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The following years I worked on MakerGirl’s curriculum, team management, fundraising, and much more.  For me, throughout the entire experience my favorite part was always leading a session with the young makergirls and seeing their excitement as they learned.  I loved inspiring them and teaching them about STEM and my experience in the field. Their faces lighting up and realizing that they can do anything they put their minds to was so surreal for me.  It was so fulfilling to see my ideas in the company coming through in the sessions and having the girls enjoy it so much.

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When it came time for me to choose my next path in a career I based a lot of my choices off of what I learned through my experience with MakerGirl.  I had been a manager/director for the company for three years and I knew I ultimately wanted to do something similar in my career. This led me to start applications for various management programs and landed me my position for Diageo.  I am learning an incredible amount about a great company and I am sure this was the right decision for my future. I constantly think about how I wouldn’t have gotten here without MakerGirl. This company made me fearless and hardworking.  It gave me passion and taught me to go get what I wanted with confidence. MakerGirl made me who I am today and I am so thankful for the company and the wonderful women that are a part of it that pushed me to where I am now. I may have shaped the lives of many young girls during my time here but the company, the team, and the MakerGirls around the country are truly what shaped me.