Pupils return to school on Tuesday 3 September. Year 7: 9.30-15.00. Year 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13: 13.00-15.00. Year 12: 10.30-12.20

Nicole’s experience at Outbox Incubator

You get 45 girls all sharing the same space together who are passionate about STEM, want to make a difference and are bursting with innovative ideas. Great things are going to happen.

That’s exactly what happened this summer. It all started when the STEMettes had such a brilliant idea… have 45 girls live in one big house in London with a goal of ‘readying young STEM entrepreneurs for life outside the box’.

Who are STEMettes?
This is one very important question I couldn’t leave any further into the article before answering. Almost every person I’ve spoken to about Outbox Incubator has asked me “Nicole, who are these STEMettes?” and my answer to that is a simple one; STEMettes are women whose goal is to combat the lack of women currently working in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Becoming an Outbox Executive
My Outbox experience began back in May, merely from sitting behind my laptop. When scrolling through the infamous ChemNet discussions page I stumbled upon a post titled “Who runs the world, Girls!”, intrigued already by the caption: “This fantastic opportunity is available to all you budding female scientists, engineers and mathematicians to step "outside the box" I clicked on the link, it seemed too good to be true, I always knew that there wasn’t enough girls in STEM and spoke of getting more girls into computer science and the like but never thought anyone would be ingenious enough to make a program doing just that. It seemed like an incredible opportunity placed right in front of me and I was dead set on getting involved.
An Incubator?
An incubator in this context is a start-up incubator. A start-up incubator is for people who have an idea for a business in which they then learn the skill set for. This is exactly what Outbox Incubator does. Through the course of the 6 weeks we were taught all the skills and tricks to developing a business, marketing it, developing a product and finance. You may ask, how did they do that? This brings me to the fabulous session leads, each with a unique and captivating story to tell.

Every day we had about 2 different session leads come in straight out of industry. The places they came from and things they had done were remarkable. The way they spoke about their experiences inspired me, just by their tone you could tell they all love what they do and that’s all I can ask for when the time comes for me to pick a career.

The range of backgrounds of the session leads was as diverse as the backgrounds of fellow Outbox Executives. Many session leads came from the company Salesforce; which is an innovative cloud computing company who very kindly funded Outbox Incubator from the food we ate to the travel expenses of each Executive. Of course there was more than just people from Salesforce, we had people who were successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, people from O2, Ocado and many other great businesses all willing to divulge the reality of the working world and the truth behind their success inclusive of trials and tribulations.

All session leads left with an undeniable impression on me, I was learning things I would never have learnt at school. I felt like I was learning more about who I am as a person and just how marvellous it feels to take a great big leap out of the box.

It wasn’t just the people who came into the house which made Outbox Incubator so special it was also the STEMettes themselves, other Executives and the people we met on excursions.

Where did we go?
Although we were residents of the house for most of the time we did go on excursions. The first excursion began with the YRS Festival of Code in Birmingham on week 1, where we spent week 1 working in our teams to prepare a project to present. The projects all solved real problems girls in the groups had faced. I had worked on a career solution website in mainly HTML to make it easier for young people to see a great range of career paths in a subject they enjoy.

We had the chance to visit the Investment Banking firm Goldman Sachs, the ecommerce website Etsy and also tour London.

STEMettes are constantly asked to speak at places to inspire people and we all had the opportunity to pitch why we should be able to speak at a STEM Summer School in Cambridge University and attend a chemistry lecture on water beforehand. Using the pitching skillset I had gained already I successfully pitched my case and along with two other Executives was able to go and speak about my story, communicate my passion for chemistry and my start-up.

My start-up
A very common question Outbox Executives asked each other was “So, what’s your idea?”. For the first two weeks I didn’t have a start-up idea, I had come to Outbox with a hope to get an idea and be inspired by the like-minded people around me. I went through a range of ideas but soon realised that they were not viable for a number of reasons. This was until I came up with one that was feasible, I cared about and had the vision it could be very successful. It is called Inquisitive STEM. The basis of my idea is a platform in which young people interested in STEM can sign up and discuss why they’re into STEM, what it means to them, what problems they’re having with homework and the like. It’s a bid to inspire young people into STEM and learn from others going through the same circumstances. The idea came from a recent post in my blog about Chemistry Perceptions called Inquisitive Science and now along with school work I am slowly building Inquisitive STEM. In due course I will sign up for the O2 think big project to help get my idea out there as advised by an O2 representative.
What I learned and what’s next
At Outbox Incubator I learned how the start-up world works, how to present my ideas, how to be confident,  the tips and tricks of business, how great the horizon for jobs in STEM is, never give up, accept failure and most importantly it is now undoubted that I want a career in STEM. Outbox has changed the way I see many things with the wealth of experiences I gained and given me a network of friends that will hopefully last a very long time. It was the best summer I’ve ever had and it isn’t even over. Outbox carries on supporting us through mentoring, speaking opportunities and funding for the next year.

If you take one sentence from this article let it be this: if you’re a girl, you’re into STEM and you want to make a difference apply for Outbox Incubator because it will be the best decision you make.