New Fellowship Offers Mentoring for High School Students Interested in Tech

February 26, 2014

Check out an article about the #include Fellowship in women 2.0 here!

"Coding for a Connected World"

February 11, 2014

“A lot of people can do it and they don’t realize they can because when they first look at it they’re like ‘I don’t know what this means,’ but a lot of people feel that way”

After studying psych in college, Emily decided she was ready for a change of pace. She enrolled in Hackbright Academy, an intensive software development academy exclusively for women. The female-dominated culture of the academy helped her thrive, and she fell in love with programming while building a compiler (a program that transforms code into something your machine can understand). Now, at Facebook, Emily works to ensure that people all over the world, speaking languages from Quechua to Icelandic, are able to connect with their friends online. She also appreciates Facebook’s rich tradition of Hackathons, which has given rise to features as integral to the Facebook experience as the “Like” button.

Learn more about Hackbright Academy here.

Interested in what it’s like to code in an all-women environment? Find an all-women hackathon event near you, or start one of your own!

If you give a student a mentor...

February 01, 2014

Nathalia, our #include Fellowship Operations Manager, shares some of her first programming experiences, crediting much of her enthusiasm for technology today to her high school computer science teachers. See how mentorship has influenced Natalia’s computer science journey:

I didn't really know what computer science was until my senior year of high school. Growing up, I had always loved technology and reading about the newest breakthroughs in the tech industry. But I never really understood what it would mean to have a career in technology.

During my senior year of high school, I enrolled in my school’s first “Introduction to Computer Science” course. Throughout the class, I learned programming fundamentals, such as decomposition and abstraction, and programmed classic games such as Pong, Space Invaders and Frogger. After taking this class, computer science became a great passion of mine and I learned what studying computer science entailed.

Aside from learning various technical skills from my first computer science class, I credit my teachers for their mentorship and constant support. They answered my questions, provided helpful feedback on projects, and encouraged me to explore this growing field. Memorably, two of my teachers helped guide me through my first school science fair project that involved using a Kinect and SDK kit. My goal for the project was to create a game that would teach players about Mendelian genetics. The game involved going through a simulation that used hand gestures to select genes for a plant and then randomly generated a colored plant based on the user’s selections. Programming a game with the Kinect was difficult, especially given the fact that I was using Scratch, a very basic drag and drop programming environment. Though I was limited by Scratch’s elementary functions, I ended up with a successful project that won first place at my school science fair, and eventually second place in a regional science fair.

I am so grateful to have had two amazingly supportive teachers while I was learning the foundations of computer science. In addition to teaching us material, my teachers also showed the class what it meant to be a computer scientist. They explained how technology was involved in every field, from fashion to automobiles and also shared their experiences working in the industry. But most importantly, my teachers believed that all of their students could professionally pursue computer science – after all, we had already learned the fundamentals!

Having someone believe in you as you learn something new is incredibly important; that peson can help you establish confidence in your skills and push you to explore topics you might not otherwise have learned.

Now that I am in college and have taken my first "real" programming class, I can say that I still love computer science. I have found my passion, and I have my two high school teachers to thank for showing me the way. I know that I have a long road ahead of me, but by remembering that there are people who care about me and believe in my abilities, I will walk down that road with my head held high and passion in my heart.

Interested in becoming a mentor for a high school student interested in computer science? Check out our#include Advisor Program designed to offer a meaningful exchange between those just starting their computer science journeys and those with a couple of years under their belt.

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