Girls Who Code has been an amazing experience. This past week I had the privilege of attending the IAC and AT&T Girls Who Code Graduations. Aside from receiving certificates, the girls pitched and demoed their final projects. I watched as 13 groups of 1-5 girls got up and proudly described their product. They had such confidence and professionalism. Their products were amazing. One of my favorites, was called Le Fridge by Eva Jiang and Erin Kim. Using this app you can create a list of items you have in your fridge or pantry and the app will recommend recipes for which you already have 70% of the ingredients already. You can also create a shopping list in the app. When you check things off this list they will automatically add to your fridge list. They created the code for this in just 4 days. In the future they will add a feature that tells you when items in the fridge are about to go bad and recommend recipes that uses those food items. The basic practicality and sense of what people need behind this app made me proud to have been a part of its creation, even if the girls did all by themselves. Their idea was well thought-out, planned, and executed, and that made all the difference.
Other projects included a musical digital painting experience, a competitive online game that challenges users to be healthy and active, an app that teaches children letters from different alphabets, an app to help those who are depressed, an app to notify where cat-calling and sexual abuse happens along with on the spot advice on what to say and do, and many others. Not only did our girls present their apps, but they also proposed ways to make money, even off the free apps, so that their projects could survive in the market. This demonstrates that the girls learned more than just programming, they learned to create apps that satisfy a need or solve a problem and they learned some basic business strategies. We didn’t just develop a program to create coding automatons – we developed a program to help our girls better the world while making a living.
At graduation, a few mothers came up to me and told me that this was the best program for their daughters. They were amazed at how their daughters got on stage and presented their work. They were surprised by all the different projects that the girls created. And the number one thing they emphasized was the confidence their daughters gained this summer. This made my day because it assured me that these girls matured not just as programmers but as individuals.
On my last day, I headed down to the 2nd floor to the AppNexus program. The girls were standing in a circle crying and sharing their experiences. They each mentioned that they received so much from this program. Not only did they know how to program, but they made connections with friends and people in the industry and were so appreciative to Girls Who Code. I was touched and I realized again, that one of the most important parts of this experience was the bonds they formed as a class. Number one in creating a good classroom is creating a bond between the students where they support one another and care for each other. I know these girls will stay in contact and be key in helping each other achieve their goals. Reshma constantly promotes the sisterhood and this was a perfect example.
I learned so much this summer about programming as well. The past few weeks I have been working with spreadsheets creating quizzes and forms that grade automatically, that update volunteer information spreadsheets and multiple master lists automatically. I worked on automating emails and linking forms. This is not only a useful skill to have in general, but also a meaningful and practical resume booster. A few years ago, I was speaking to a friend about putting “proficient in excel” on my resume and he told me that I didn’t know enough to say that, he said that I had to know add functions and complex formulas. I discovered recently that he didn’t even know how to do a sum in excel and assumed I didn’t either. In fact then, I could have written that I was proficient in excel. Now I can write that I am an expert.