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Uber

8-80 Coding: Supporting tech for all ages in Philadelphia

Uber

Below is an article originally written by Craig Ewer at PowerToFly Partner Uber, and published on October 30, 2017. Go to Uber's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

At Uber, we believe that technology is for everyone — whether you're a student in a Philadelphia Public School or someone looking for a new career later in life. That's why today we're excited to launch 8-80 Coding, a new initiative to support technology education for people of all ages in Philadelphia.

Beginning this month, we're working with three of the region's top nonprofits to expand coding education for kids and adults. From our rec centers to our tech centers, we want Philadelphians to have access to the work opportunities generated by tech education, but also to experience the personal satisfaction and fun of building something new. In the process, we hope to expand the pipeline of people historically underrepresented in technology and make Philadelphia's tech community more reflective of our community as a whole.

"I'm excited that a global company as big as Uber understands the value of providing free coding programs in Philadelphia. Tech education is crucial, not only for our schoolchildren, who will receive some of this training, but for also for adults seeking new skills and jobs. There are many tech jobs for which you don't need a college degree, but you do need the right training. Uber and the great local nonprofits with whom the company is teamed will have tremendous success in promoting diversity in coding and tech education and ultimately job growth. I look forward to helping out any way I can to make this a great project for Philadelphia."

– City Councilman-at-Large Allan Domb

Here's what we have in store for the next 12 months:

The ITEM advocates for better inclusion in the tech industry as a way to reduce systemic inequality, and, with our support, they have established a new scholarship program for continuing adult education. Through the end of 2017, four Uber Scholars will complete a course on Amazon Web Services, a highly valued certification for employers in today's competitive job market. These scholars will also be eligible for mentoring opportunities with members of Uber's engineering team.

"The ITEM's mission vis-a-vis the students of our academy is simple: Trained. Certified. Hired. Uber's support of our students being trained and certified as AWS Solutions Architect Associates is a major boost to our vision of all Philadelphians accessing our emerging technology sector."

– Kahiga Tiagha, Cofounder of The ITEM

Coded by Kids offers free tech education for children ages 5-18, primarily through in-school and extracurricular coding projects. As part of 8-80 Coding, we're supporting Coded by Kid's yearlong coding class at the Academy at Palumbo public high school in South Philadelphia, where students will learn the basics of web development (HTML, CSS, etc.) and complete a project for their web portfolios.

"We are excited to work with Uber to ensure Philadelphia's pipeline of tech talent is diverse and well prepared to compete in the innovation economy. Uber knows that jobs are becoming increasingly more technical and skilled, and by investing in a Pathways into Tech program they are making a commitment to provide more students with the opportunity to get those technical skills."

– Maggie Deptola, COO, Coded by Kids

Finally, we're supporting TechGirlz, whose mission is "to inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers." Through a series of workshops and special events, TechGirlz is helping create the next generation of female coders and working to close the gender gap in technology.

"We are excited to be part of the 8-80 Coding program and by Uber's support of our mission to inspire girls on the path to empowered careers in technology. Uber's innovative roots and renewed commitment to positive change make it a great partner in championing our new model for women in technology."

– Tracey Welson-Rossman, Founder and CEO of TechGirlz

These three initiatives are only the beginning. With our partners, we're ready to make a difference in Philadelphia and continue building a future that is more diverse and more inclusive.

33Across

Meet Gulnara M., Software Engineer at 33 Across

Gulnara M. chats about being self-taught in code, diversity in tech, and artificial intelligence

Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly hiring partner 33 Across, and published on May 11, 2018. Go to 33 Across' page on PowerToFly to learn more.

Some of us can say that we taught ourselves how to ride a bike, or maybe even how to play an instrument. Our Software Engineer Gulnara Mirzakarimova took it up a few notches by teaching herself how to code! After a career in finance she decided that she wanted to do something different. Learn more about why Gulnara wanted to get into engineering, how we can improve diversity within the industry, and how engineers can prepare for the future of artificial intelligence!

How did you make the decision to become an engineer?
I was working in finance for four years and I realized that it was not something that I was interested in. I wanted to be able to create things and have the flexibility to work from anywhere. I used to run a community group of entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C. and I liked what I saw. A lot of the members were developers and they were building some pretty interesting things. I then decided to learn how to code, while still working in finance and I loved it. So, I quit my job and began working as a developer. This was five years ago and I have been working as a developer ever since.

What is the best work environment/setting for you to be at your most productive state?
I work from home 90% of the time. Sometimes I'll work out of a coffee shop. I like to be able to tune out sound and distractions when I work so I use noise canceling headphones. Depending on what I'm building, I like to be able to listen to either classical or techno music. I've noticed that if I am in an early stages of conceptualizing the problem I tend to listen to slow classical music. But when I have the solution figured out and am implementing it, I switch to high-paced techno music. In both scenarios, I like to work uninterrupted. The main reason can be explained by this comic.

What role do you think that artificial intelligence (AI) will play in the future? How should engineers prepare for it?
Tech is developing faster than we can keep up. New tools, languages, and frameworks are being created all the time. There are a lot of tools available for engineers to prepare for AI, they include data science, machine learning, and deep learning.

As a female engineer, what do you think could be done to encourage more women to explore the profession?
I think we should not only focus on women but on all minorities and it has to start early – I am talking primary school. How can you be interested in something you don't know anything about? I recently gave a talk at a middle school where I told kids about what developers do and told them that there are lots of ways one can become a developer. Kids have some idea of what teachers, doctors, lawyers and bankers do. But the tech industry is still a pandora's box to many of them.

What's your favorite way to spend the weekend?
I don't have one favorite way of spending a weekend. But you can usually find me doing the following in any given month on a weekend: sketching and painting with watercolors, hiking, or going to a botanical garden. I like visiting Harry Potter World and Jurassic World at Universal Studios. I also enjoy barbecuing, baking and of course binge watching TV shows. I'm currently watching The Expanse, Killing Eve, and WestWorld.

Work-Life Integration

My Coding Side Hustle Helped Me Adopt a Baby

Partner Content

A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.

Haele Wolfe, Skillcrush

Sarah Eggers balances a marketing job, tech side hustle, and family life in Kansas City, MO. Five years ago, she discovered Skillcrush and rekindled her love of tech, culminating in a web design side hustle that she runs alongside her day job in writing and marketing. She told her story to Haele Wolfe.

Despite living frugally, my partner and I bear considerable financial responsibility between student debt, a mortgage, and the general expenses of life. When I wanted to bring in some extra cash without changing careers, I decided to try out a side hustle and began consulting for social media marketing. I added tech skills to my repertoire, and three years later, those tech skills have become my main side hustle, eclipsing my social media consulting! Coding has made a huge difference—not just financially—but in my whole perception of my career. And most incredibly, my extracurricular work as a developer helped me accomplish an enormous personal goal: I started a family.

I've always been interested in tech because I love being able to customize things. When I was ten or eleven I would build HTML tables in Tripod (these were the pre-Myspace days) just for fun—there's just something about being able to make text glittery that really speaks to me. As I grew up I also cultivated a love of languages and literature (and hello, what is coding if not just more languages?) and ended up majoring in English before landing a job in marketing.

I dug into coding as an adult because I wanted to be able to design my own blog theme for a WordPress page I was running. Pursuing coding courses was about feeding my lifelong love of learning, and after a lot of research, I signed up for a web design course to familiarize myself with HTML and CSS so that I could have a foundation of knowledge before taking a WordPress course.

My tech side hustle grew organically after I completed the courses and was putting my new skills to work on my blog. Friends and family members found out that I knew how to customize pages and started asking me to help them with their own. And, I threw up a page about my new tech skills on my site and see if any work came in.

Freelancing as a developer on the side gives me balance in my professional life that I didn't realize I could have. In my day job, I often have year-long projects or goals, and it's hard to feel progress and to stay excited when I'm doing incremental work over a longer period of time—even though I love the work. Web development offers me that boost of completing projects in a few hours, days, or weeks—and that is so satisfying! I complete the work, get to see the client happy, cash my paycheck, and then move on to the next thing. Completing these cycles on different projects is completely motivating for me.

Another beautiful thing about freelance tech work is that I can totally say no to clients I'm not interested in. Choosing to work two jobs instead of going full-time freelance made the most sense for me, and having the ability to pick my freelance clients without the pressure of that work being my only way to pay bills keeps things fresh and fun. As a result, all the work that I do on the side is work that I'm truly excited about, and I only work for clients with whom I really connect.

Just a few weeks ago, I got to share some wildly exciting side hustle news with the Skillcrush alumni community: After a few years of freelancing as a web developer, my partner and I were able to adopt a child and start our family!

View image on Twitter

I'd began freelancing in web development sort of by accident—I'd simply wanted to learn, and then the clients started coming. Once I saw the potential financial benefits of further monetizing the side work I was doing, I dove in and was able put away a significant amount of savings towards our adoption.

My daughter is clearly the most costly and most worthwhile expense that my tech skills helped me afford, and having a second career that brought in money to pay for the adoption meant that our family was able to grow much sooner than my partner and I had initially thought.

My advice to others who are looking to learn something new or who want to try tech skills as a career path is to jump in. If you're even a little curious about what tech skills can do for you, just start! Even if you don't want to ditch your job (I see you out there, fellow education lovers!) you never know what kinds of benefits new skills will add to your life. For me, the extra income, fun of adding to my skill toolbox, and variation of projects in my work life, has expanded my career— and life—in ways I didn't know were possible.

Career and Interview Tips

What to Look for When Choosing a Bootcamp

Partner Content

This piece was written by Erica Freedman, Client and Content Specialist at SwitchUp.org

For many, a coding bootcamp can be the perfect opportunity to switch to a tech career. These programs can be offline or online, part-time or full-time, and generally require far less time and investment that a four-year degree.

If you think a coding bootcamp could be a great fit for your career goals, you're probably wondering how to get started.. What do you look for when trying to choose a bootcamp? How do you know if it's the right fit? No matter the focus, the core components that make the best programs stand-out from the rest are consistent. To make things easier, we've compiled a list of the most important things to consider when comparing coding bootcamp programs.

READ MORE Show less
Tech Talk

Learning to Code, Harry Potter & Bloom’s Taxonomy

You'll be creating Patronuses (I mean code) in no time!

Learning to code is not quick and easy. Many coders, including myself, have discussed reasons why learning to code is so challenging (here, here, here, and here). To become a programmer, you need to have experiences that force you to move through a hierarchy of learning objectives (known in education as Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning). Doing so ensures that you can progress from simply recalling coding concepts to being able to develop your own original code. Bloom's Taxonomy has six levels: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create.

But what does Harry Potter have to do with the learning objectives and coding? Simple. Throughout the seven books in the Harry Potter series there are numerous examples demonstrating each of the learning objectives in the hierarchy and are beautifully illustrated in the movies. Remember, Harry, like you, is experiencing a steep learning curve. Harry must learn potions, charms, and transfiguration, all with tools he has never used before. Doesn't that sound familiar? Instead of magic, you are learning computer science and coding languages like JavaScript and Python. Instead of a cauldron and wand, you are using a text editor and Chrome Developer Tools. (If you aren't familiar with Harry Potter, don't worry. You will still understand the concept.)

In this post, I address the six levels in the hierarchy, describe the types of learning outcomes in each level using action verbs, provide a clear example from the Harry Potter series (with a link to the corresponding video clip), and then relate it back to learning to code.

Remember

In this level, you are able to recall, recite, define and list.

In The Sorcerer's Stone, Harry takes Potions with Professor Snape for the first time. The Professor, ready to embarrass Harry, asks him to recall facts such as where to find a bezoar (answer: in the stomach of a goat) and what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane (trick question — they are the same plant). Of course, Harry cannot remember these facts. Even if he could, simply recalling information doesn't mean you understand it or can apply it in a new situation. You may be able to list the different types of variables or identify a function, but that doesn't mean you can use, apply or create original code in JavaScript. That is why it is crucial to move through the hierarchy of learning objectives. (View Scene Here)

Understand

In this level, you are able to explain, discuss, describe, and report.

In The Sorcerer's Stone, Hagrid takes Harry to get his school supplies, and Harry takes the opportunity to ask Hagrid about his dead parents. Hagrid explains the events surrounding their tragic end, but also describes the condition of the wizarding world at the time, and they discuss the scar on Harry's head. When do you need to discuss your code like this? One example is when you ask for help. If you use Slack or Stack Overflow, it is critically important that you describe the code you have written, what you expected to happen, what happened instead, and what you tried as a result. You may not have the solution to fix your code, but you demonstrate that you understand where you are in the process. Force yourself to go through those steps when you want to ask for help. It will reinforce your understanding. Often, when I go through this process, I am able to answer my own question at the end. It is the process that engages our brain. (View Scene Here)

Apply

In this level, you are able to use, implement, and demonstrate.

During Defense Against the Dark Arts class in The Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Lupin explains how to deal with a boggart, a creature that feeds off of your fears. First, you must concentrate on something absurdly funny and then clearly enunciate the incantation: Riddikulus. In the scene, the Professor has the students use the spell against a real boggart. Doesn't this example of applying feel like practicing? That's because practicing what you have learned is extremely important regardless of the subject. With coding, though, this means you can follow the coding requirements of a user story to demonstrate what you have learned. For example, the FreeCodeCamp curriculum asks you to complete a variety of assignments such as a tribute page, a random quote generator, and a weather application. To do this, you must recall and understand the coding required. You may still need to "Google" some of your code, but that is all part of demonstrating your ability to apply what you have learned. (View Scene Here)

(Can you guess the subject of my FreeCodeCamp tribute page? Take a look here.)

Analyze

In this level, you are able to draw conclusions, make connections, and compare and contrast.

At the end of The Chamber of Secrets, Harry draws conclusions and explains to Ron that the monster from the Chamber is a basilisk, a serpent. He connects the information about the basilisk provided to him by Hermione with clues from each time the monster encountered a student (they were turned to stone rather than killed). Harry also deduces that the voice he (and he alone) has been hearing is the basilisk since only Harry can understand Parseltongue (snake language). As Harry draws conclusions, he has an almost "Aha" moment. It's not unlike the moment you examine error messages from your code in Chrome Developer Tools and know what to do to fix the broken code (analyze and apply). As a developer, you will need to analyze your code on a constant basis, but analyzing only comes after you not only recall but also understand and apply code. (View Scene Here)

Evaluate

In this level, you are able to critique, assess, select, and justify.

In The Order of the Phoenix, Harry teaches a group of fellow students defensive spells and charms to protect them if they should encounter a Death Eater. As Harry walks around the group, he assess the use of spells and offers suggestions on how to improve — he shows Neville how to properly move his wand and suggests he focuses on a fixed point. In one scene, he even raises some students' wands higher for better execution. Of course, you won't have Harry critiquing your code. Instead, a programmer must critique their own code and look for places to make the code more efficient. Doing this without changing the outcome of the code is called refactoring. Sometimes you need to evaluate code before you write it. For example, you may have a situation where you could use more than one type of function: is using an if statement better than using a switch statement? Weigh your options and select the most appropriate option. Evaluating is a natural extension to analyzing. (View Scene Here)

Create

In this level, you are able to develop, design, work, and assemble.

We never truly understand just how brilliant Professor Snape is when it comes to magic until The Half-Blood Prince. Harry stumbles upon Snape's old Potions schoolbook, and in the margins finds that Professor Snape (known only as the Half-Blood Prince) has created brand new spells, many of them curses, and modifies existing potion recipes for better implementation. Unfortunately, Harry tries the "Sectumsempra" curse on Draco and nearly kills him. You don't have to create evil curses to know you have achieved some mastery in coding; instead, you can take an original idea, wireframe it, build it, and troubleshoot it. Notice, though, that you must have gone through all levels of the hierarchy in order to successfully create. Snape would not have been able to develop new curses if he didn't first remember principles of magic, understand spellwork and evaluate his progress. (View Scene Here)

Wrapping Up

Learning coding, like magic, isn't easy. It requires hard work and patience. You must remember that Harry doesn't really perform much magic on his own in the first book. He hadn't learned enough yet. Regardless, he still became a great wizard and eventually defeated the evil Voldemort. Keep that in mind on your journey to becoming a programmer. It won't happen over night. Focus on experiences that will move you through the hierarchy of learning.

One thing Harry has that we all need is friends to share the burden. With Ron and Hermione by his side, the three friends persevere through many challenges. Find your "Ron" and "Hermione" in the coding community by joining a study group, attending meet up events, and participating in discussion boards either on Facebook, Slack, or Stack Overflow. But be patient with people. You don't know where they are in the levels of hierarchy.

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