Take that career advice from Samaira Mehta — one of the youngest mentors at our Women’s Leadership Summit March 8th in Nashville!

Here’s how to tune in☝️for our special International Women’s Day celebration. Meanwhile, check out our interview with Samaira????below!

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do? 

SAMAIRA MEHTA: I’m Samaira, the creator of CoderBunnyz. When I was six years old, my dad introduced me to coding through a prank project that included a button that read “Press this if you’re beautiful,” but would disappear each time I pressed it. I was immediately curious about how he got the button to do that. Eager to create similar projects, I learned how to code myself. I often spent time coding and even creating my own “flappy bird” game (and, as a 7-year-old, that was something to be proud of!). However, after finding out that my friends thought coding was tedious and complicated, I became determined to develop a way to make coding fun for my friends. I worked long days learning how to better my coding and then transferred my knowledge onto a board game. Since my friends loved board games, I decided to use a board game to introduce them to coding – hoping they would eventually like coding too. And that’s how CoderBunnyz was created. The game helped to change my friends’ minds and made them love coding. That was a hugely rewarding experience. It was a challenging journey, but today my games (plural because I have now expanded to multiple games) sell on Amazon and Walmart. CoderBunnyz has even trended at #1 out of all of the best sellers on Amazon. Because of my work, I’ve gotten to work platforms like Vogue, United Nations, and have even received a letter of praise from former First Lady Michelle Obama.

PLAG: Share a recent interaction with another woman or girl that you found inspiring.

SM: Often I speak with my grandmother over the phone. I have grown to find her one of the most inspiring women in my life. My grandma is the most compassionate and caring person I know. She never fails to help others, especially those in need. Her heart is bigger than the entire universe, reflected in her donations of food and money and her assistance to the less privileged. Grandma was also one of the first women in our family to go to college; she was the only girl in her business and economics class and the only woman on her university’s cross country team. Her efforts inspire me to continue to work hard and be a benevolent person. She undoubtedly embodies the spirit of what I like to call a “girl boss” – the mindset of a fearless woman leader who doesn’t shy away from breaking boundaries.

PLAG: What difference would it have made for you to have had Play Like a Girl in your life as a girl or young woman?

SM: If I had Play Like a Girl in my life during my early years, it would have made a profound impact on my life. I would have grown up and thrived with the support of many other girls, just like myself. I would have built meaningful, lifelong friendships and connections that would guide me throughout my journey. That’s what sport and community does for girls and women. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Play Like a Girl since 2018. We’ve teamed up to inspire the next generation of coders, scientists, artists and mathematicians, and I know we’re making a real different toward leveling the playing field and building a diverse pipeline of women in STEM.

PLAG: What does “ready for any field” mean to you? 

SM: Ready for Any Field means being ready to not just survive but thrive in any situation you find yourself. Opportunities are important but not enough. Girls need to be prepared for the opportunities, and the only way to bridge this gap is to start while we’re young. This way, as women, we can fully prepare to embrace, work and compete in technology and any field with equity, not privilege.

PLAG: Why is sisterhood (or women supporting women) important to you?

SM: Personally, I have been a huge feminist since a young age. When I noticed few girls were attending the coding workshops I was teaching, I began to hold workshops dedicated to girls only to make them feel more welcome. Now, I have been named a “champion for girls in technology” by the United Nations. Through first-hand experience, I am convinced that when girls see themselves in a room filled with other girls doing the same things, they are all motivated and lifted, believing they can achieve greatness too. This “girls supporting girls” ethos is crucial for girls to have faith in themselves and believe in their own capabilities. 

PLAG: How does mentorship from and collaboration with other women help you grow and learn?

SM: Mentorship is key to success in any endeavor. Mentors are like a torch that helps you find your way through a dark tunnel. I am lucky to have three amazing individuals as mentors in my company and in my life. My mom and dad are also supportive and I’m really really grateful for that. When I did the research to find out what board game creation involved, I learned about the iterative process of sketching, prototyping, design, playtesting and, finally, mass production. My family has helped me every step of the way. My dad has always been there to guide me on the technology side of things. He’s been an advisor whenever I’ve needed it. My mom helps with the finances, production and marketing. My external mentors have a huge impact in my life and business too. One of my mentors is a teacher here in California who bought some of my games for his classroom. He became a friend to our family and, now, mentors me. All of these people have helped me grow and become a better individual and business owner over the years.

PLAG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a woman role model, mentor or colleague?

SM: The best piece of advice I’ve received is to “work while they sleep, learn when they party, save like they spend, and live like they dream.” —says young tech prodigy, Samaira Mehta. Her work is CoderBunnyz, a coding game aimed at… Click To Tweet

While everyone is out partying or having a good time, I’ve learned to work hard because I know that I will reap the rewards of my hard work later. Dedication and persistence guarantees that I get to live the life others dream of living – IRL 🙂

PLAG: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

SM: What’s really important for youth today is that we don’t see barriers. We don’t see limits to things that we can create. We have a whole other mindset that lets us dream big and dream of things adults can’t even imagine possible. All of these crazy ideas deserve to be heard. I would advise my younger self to not listen to the naysayers or those who say my dreams aren’t possible, but rather dream big and work hard towards achieving those dreams.

PLAG: What advice do you have for younger girls who want to follow in your footsteps but may be afraid to ask for help (mentorship or guidance)?

SM: I’ve learned a lot during my journey, so I’d tell girls who have big ambitions to start that business, launch that movement, and create that product. To full realize your potential, I suggest you:

  • Explore, observe, and find what you are truly passionate about. That problem, idea, or thing that you are passionate about is what you should work towards
  • It’s OK to dream. It starts with a dream, a very big dream, but you have to work extraordinary amounts to achieve that dream.
  • Throughout that process ask for help! You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you normally can’t do it alone!
  • Stop. Breath. Think. Make a plan. If you just start without a path and a plan, you’re more likely to crash along the way.
  • Go for it…and have patience and persevere. It might take longer than you think. You may have to change your path. You may have to modify or change the goal. But you don’t have to give up.

Finally, I think one of the major things I have learned and want to share with all my sisters is that time expands to accommodate your passions and priorities. I go to school, do homework, I am a dancer, I run a company, hold workshops, I’m a teacher/educational content creator, professional motivational speaker. I’m constantly traveling to different places. I’m working on an AI research project. And I’m still a 13-year-old who hangs out with her friends and goes to the beach. But I love all of it! I love everything I do. And I truly believe if you are passionate about anything, time will expand to accommodate all our passions and priorities. 

Connect with Samaira on Instagram and join Play Like a Girl in our mission to build a diverse pipeline of women in STEM by encouraging girls that they can do anything and be #ReadyforAnyField. ⚡️

 

Win a chance to be mentored by game changing women in Nashville! Tell us how sport has prepared you to succeed in any field by submitting your original photos, videos or art via Instagram or Twitter using #ReadyforAnyField. No purchase necessary. Void in AK & HI and where prohibited. Open to legal residents of 48 contiguous US & DC. Starts 2/21/22; ends 2/28/22.