Careers in Code Students Take Their Knowledge Outside of the Classroom

Hack Upstate
4 min readAug 21, 2019

We created Careers in Code to offer educational opportunities for women and minorities in Central New York. The goal was to provide training so that they could have equal access to positions in tech. The inaugural term of our coding bootcamp will complete next week on August 22, but our students are already taking their knowledge outside of class!

Kaitlyn Warboy is currently a special education teacher who came to Careers in Code to learn how to use her passion for solving problems and using critical thinking skills to be utilized in a new career.

As a stepping stone towards that goal, she joined a group of instructors from Tech4Kidz at Le Moyne College in July to teach computer coding to students in grades 6–8 using Scratch, an online tool that introduces coding to kids. Students learned programming, and had courses in robotics and engineering.

“It was really cool to use my teaching expertise to teach students something I am also learning. Every day felt like I was honing my coding skills and learning new things, and it definitely helped me understand more about coding. With teaching in general, I always find that being able to explain things to others helps solidify the content for me as well. When those other people are kids, it’s even more challenging to explain it on a level they understand.

I was so impressed with the kids’ abilities by the end. Something that was meaningful to me was seeing the projects the kids coded and the excitement on their faces when their code worked! The kids created games, short movies with dialogue, and other cool things. They used topics they loved and made them come to life.

I found that I really enjoyed teaching them something I was truly passionate about, and I’d love to continue doing this in the future, either with the camp, or with a bootcamp like ours in the future.”

Another Careers in Code student, Dana McMullen, recently set out to Manhattan to attend her first Codeland conference, which is geared towards new developers. She got to attend informative workshops, like one with Luisa Morales on writing and implementing accessible code, and also work on code that she learned in between sessions as well.

“I picked up my hot pink conference swag bag as well as colorful pins with gender identity labels like he, she, they, and so on. I was amazed that so much thought went into making people of all identities feel welcome. Diversity was also on full display in the form of the many women, races, and ethnicities that mingled together.

There were talks, lectures, vendor tables, and lots of free information to grab and put in your swag bag to read later. The conference organizer is Saron Yitbarek, and she is the CEO and Founder of CodeNewbie, the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code. She’s also a developer, speaker and podcaster.

I got to meet Nitya Narasimhan of Microsoft, who offered to be a mentor for me on my coding and programming journey. She encouraged me to stay the course and not give up on my dreams. When I told her that one of my goals was to develop a product to help people with disabilities, she was so excited and introduced me to another Microsoft employee, Maria Naggaga, who she said could help me. Maria insisted I meet the keynote speaker, Scott Hanselman, because he’s connected to Microsoft’s accessibility initiatives.

In his keynote speech, Scott had talked to us about how he uses technology to help manage his diabetes and track his blood sugar numbers. When I told him what I wanted to do and about my background in assistive technology, he encouraged me to reach out to him after the conference so he could connect me with a rep from the Xbox team, because they had just built a game controller that could easily be configured for a user with just about any kind of disability.”

We are so proud of Kaitlyn and Dana for putting themselves out there and making such amazing connections in the process. Join them and the rest of our first coding bootcamp cohort to celebrate their successes at their graduation ceremony, next Thursday at The Tech Garden!

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