Most of us go to our day job and come home to Netflix and some Halo Top. The amazing co-founders of MakerGirl, Julia Haried and Elizabeth Engele don’t exactly fit in with that demographic. What started as a college project became a program that over 3,000 young girls have joined to learn about 3D printing and explore STEM related fields. Julia, a future CPA working at Deloitte & Touche, and Elizabeth, Nonprofit Account Executive for LinkedIn, spend their days at their 9-5’s and their mornings and evenings as Executive Directors of MakerGirl. They basically embody the definition of hustle, and it’s so inspiring!
While Julia and Elizabeth are at their other full-time gigs, MakerGirl’s CEO Stephanie Hein is growing the company and program. She developed the first #MakerGirlMobile campaign, giving girls all across the country the chance to take part and learn more about STEM and 3D printing.
Read on to learn more about MakerGirl and their leadership team! You won’t want to miss how Julia and Elizabeth spend a typical day — productivity gurus, take note!
Name: Stephanie Hein
Current Location: Champaign, IL
Education: BS in Molecular & Cellular Biology, minor in Chemistry from UIUC, MA in Educational Studies from Michigan
Name: Julia Haried
Title: Co-founder and Executive Director
Current Location: Little Italy, Chicago
Education: BS in Accounting, MAS in Accounting Science
Name: Elizabeth Engele
Title: Co-founder and Executive Director
Current Location: Chicago
Education: BS in Business Administration with a focus in Supply Chain Management and Marketing; Minor in Technology & Management
What was your first job, and how did you land it?
Stephanie: My first job after school was working at a local toy store in the Detroit suburbs. I applied on a whim after walking by it one day. The owner called me that same day and I accepted the job the day after that.
Elizabeth: I started in LinkedIn’s Business Leadership program in San Francisco, a rotational program that prepares recent grads for a sales career. My senior year, I decided I wanted to pursue a role in fashion or technology, and I was using LinkedIn to connect with alums of companies I admired. I stumbled across the rotational program and found a connection into the company, and the rest is history!
Julia: After graduating from UIUC, I started my career at Deloitte & Touche in the Chicago audit practice. Through the Illinois CPA society, I participated in the Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship prep program, a program to drive diversity in public accounting, during my sophomore year of college. From this program, I received an internship with Deloitte. Over three summers I worked with Deloitte’s CFO Marketing Program, Forensics, and Audit.
All three of you went to University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign! How did UIUC prepare you for this job?
Stephanie: I was a student-athlete at UIUC and the life lessons I learned from that experience, like teamwork and perseverance, definitely helped prepare me for this job. I also took advantage of the many resources the athletic department offered like networking events, life skills training, and advising. In addition, volunteering for MakerGirl while I was a student helped me prepare, not just because I know the history of the organization, but also because I was introduced to a network of inspiring entrepreneurs at UIUC that I didn’t know existed before joining MakerGirl.
Elizabeth: UIUC offers limitless opportunity from both an academic and leadership perspective. Because I had leadership positions in Chi Omega and Business Council, and I started my own fashion organization, I learned how effective organizations are run, and that I wanted to work with people that are big dreamers and doers. Fortunately, Julia is both of those and much more. Also, the RSO involvement taught me the importance of structure and ensuring that everyone is accountable and inspired in their assigned role. We want MakerGirl ChangeMakers to act as if they are founders of the organization — this is a core value of ours.
Julia: UIUC provided the strong education and understanding of people that drives me to bring excellence, compassion, and quality to financial services at Deloitte & Touche and education services at MakerGirl.
Can you tell us a little bit about MakerGirl?
E: MakerGirl educates 7-10 year old girls to pursue STEM fields through 3D printing sessions taught by University STEM women and men. We show girls that they can be creative and analytical, because girls are taken all the way through the design thinking process to CAD’ing the item on Tinkercad, to having it in the palm of their hand. We have educated over 3K girls so far all over the United States through our sessions at UIUC and across the country on #MakerGirlGoesMobile. #MakerGirlGoesMobile is the first 3D printing truck, and it enables us to take our sessions to girls in rural areas (like me growing up) and girls in underserved locations.
Where did your passion for STEM come from?
S: My passion for STEM, and in particular STEM education, was influenced by my family. My dad’s side of the family mainly pursued STEM careers while my mom’s side of the family has a long history in education careers. Put those together and it make sense that I am passionate about STEM education!
E: Ultimately from a passion for “making” and being the change needed for the world. I think anyone can create positive change, with a STEM background or not, but an education in STEM helps build the maker mindset that we wish to see for tomorrow’s leaders.
J: My father is a nuclear engineer from UIUC, he instilled in me a strong love of learning and how the world works from a young age.
What gave you the idea for MakerGirl?
E: I grew up going to a store called Made By Me in St. Louis with my aunts. I was always proud to show off my canvas bags or notebooks I made in school the next week, and I wanted to give girls a similar experience combined with facets of STEM.
How did you get inspired to create this?
E: We were complete strangers in a social entrepreneurship class and challenged to come up with a solution to “What bothers you?” I thought of the lack of women I knew with a “maker” mentality on a college campus that offered so much opportunity, and I want to show girls that STEM is tangible, creative, and analytical. I also wanted to show girls that any pre-existing passion (fashion, sports, etc.) can be applied to a career in STEM.
You both have other full-time positions. What does your typical day look like?
E: Wake up at 5, journal and do a daily devotional from She Reads Truth, work out, LinkedIn from 8-5, and if I don’t have an event planned after work, I go home and finish up extra MakerGirl or LinkedIn work I missed. I like to do my MakerGirl work on commutes or on the weekends. Julia and I also plan Soho House working sessions where we dream, inspire one another, and discuss action items.
J: As I am currently studying for my CPA exams, I normally study two hours before work, then work with an aerospace and defense company to audit their financials during normal working hours. Then after work, I work out and make a meal at home while finishing up studying for a few MakerGirl calls/emails.
What was it like building a company while in college? Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who don’t have their degree yet?
E: I couldn’t imagine a better way to round out my experience at UIUC. There is so much opportunity and energy — it is how we found all of our team members, our first web designer, and we gained much more support from the university through press. We also landed a spot in the first iVenture accelerator, a startup accelerator to help get newly-formed companies ensure sustainability. I would say “just do it.” Don’t spend too much time planning and brainstorming — pilot first to prove if you even have an idea that is worth pursuing for you and for your market.
What’s next for MakerGirl?
E: We aim to educate 10K girls by 2023, with half being from underserved and rural areas. This will be accomplished through #MakerGirlGoesMobile regional trips and expanding to new universities across the country through “academies” — a permanent location for girls to come back over a school year. Northwestern University was our first academy expansion, and this team is doing an amazing job!
What advice do you have for women in STEM?
E: Don’t be afraid to speak up and use your empathetic, creative energy. Women have strengths that men naturally don’t have and visa versa, and if more diversity in thought is manifested, everyone benefits.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
S: Planning the first #MakerGirlGoesMobile road trip. It was a 10,000 mile, eight-week road trip that went all the way from California to New Hampshire. It was stressful to plan, but the result was successful and it was amazing to bring MakerGirl sessions to 16 different states across the nation!
E: I received a promotion for a role I didn’t have a traditional interview process for. I’ve always been told that one’s professional brand and results can do that, but to see it play out was encouraging and surprising.
What do you love about working with MakerGirl?
S: My favorite part is working with the girls at the sessions. I love getting to know them and helping them problem solve while they design their object. Seeing their excitement when they watch the 3D printers is also so fun and rewarding!
What advice would you give your younger self?
S: Don’t worry that your career path looks different than your friends’ career paths, it all works out in the end. It’s all about enjoying the journey and learning along the way. I still remind myself this at times.
E: Take more college classes out of curiosity for the subject matter. It turns out those are the classes where you learn the most anyways! I took the social entrepreneurship class that started MakerGirl because I was curious about the subject matter.
Stephanie, Julia, and Elizabeth are The Everygirls…
S: The Trans-Mongolian Railway is one of the trips on my bucket list right now. It’s a train that goes from Moscow to Beijing through Mongolia.
E: Surfing and biking down volcanoes in Hawaii.
J: Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
What’s your power outfit?
S: Half-up half-down hair, natural makeup, black pants, and a simple shirt or nice sweater.
E: Nice sneakers, a preppy dress, and my hair pulled back in a high ponytail or bun with colorful statement earrings .
J: Black Aeyde booties, Alice & Olivia jeans, and a thick Michael Kors turtleneck, with my mom’s pearl earrings.
Your camera roll is full of. . .
S: Pictures of my family, cats, and past vacations.
E: Encouraging emails, quotes, and texts I’ve screen-shotted
J: My one-year old niece!
Favorite Instagram to follow?
S: Any account dedicated to a cute animal. My current favorite is Mr. Teddy Bunny, he’s this adorable fluffy gray bunny.
E: Morgan Harper Nichols — she makes simple, encouraging poems that speak life
J: Nicholas Berggruen and Tulipina Design
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
S: Melissa Bernstein from Melissa & Doug. I admire the way she and her husband Doug infuse family, education, and creativity into their brand and the toys they create. Their mission is centered around taking back childhood through unstructured play time and I think that is so important!
E: Rosa Parks. I admire her bravery and faith, and I wonder how she would approach the inequalities in today’s society.
J: Jennifer Hyman, the co-founder of Rent the Runway. I admire her tenacity, execution with ideas, and boldness with transforming the retail industry and consumption patterns. It’s exciting to see her as a new board member for Estee Lauder’s audit committee!