On November 1st, a group of Toronto’s #TeensLearningCode learners had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at some of the city’s awesome technology companies and spaces — and got to hear firsthand from industry experts what it’s like to work in tech in 2017!
A day in the life of a web developer
We started off the day at HackerYou: a private career college for front end web development. After a fun icebreaker activity, we got to hear from a panel of HackerYou front end bootcamp grads! They shared what a typical day at work looks like, what they love most about their jobs, and how they got to where they are today. Many of the teen learners were surprised to learn about the winding career paths these developers took before entering tech careers: ranging from theatre, to economics, to tourism, to photography! Some take home lessons? Coding is about making things; anybody can learn to code if it’s for something they’re passionate or curious about; and you don’t have to be a “techie” in the traditional sense in order to be a developer!
There are many ways people work in tech.
We then made the trek to the 500px headquarters! 500px is an online community for photographers to share photos, network, and gain photography skills training. We learned about some of company’s latest projects, the office work culture (did you know they have office dogs?) and the different roles you can play in a technology start-up! We talked to employees with a diversity of responsibilities: including those who worked in web development, analytics, design, marketing, and operations.
Transforming something digital into the physical world
Next up was STEAMLabs — a community makerspace for digital fabrication using 3D printers, CNC routers, laser cutters, and more! We got to see some of these tools in action, and then learned about how these tools are used by a variety of people — and for a variety of reasons. From open-source flat-packed furniture, to DIY jewelry and business cards, to interactive art installations and re-imagined urban spaces, it was so fun to learn about how a digital file or piece of code could turn into something physical, concrete, and three dimensional!
After lunch, we made our way over to NEO Exchange — Canada’s newest stock exchange. The teens learned the basics of how a stock exchange functions, and had the opportunity to talk to the different women who worked at NEO: developers, lawyers and legal support, and even the Chief Financial Officer! All of them stressed the importance of being familiar with tech in their role, even if they didn’t work directly with developers every day.
Trying our hand at collaborative design thinking
The final stop of the day was at Nascent Digital. Some of the Nascent team members opened by asking the group of 13 to 17 year old teens: how many of you are thinking of pursuing a coding career? A handful of hands go up. How about a career in design? Even more hands. It was amazing to see so many young learners seriously considering technology careers so early on in their learning journey! Afterwards, an awesome team of designers and developers led us through the different stages of design thinking: empathy, problem definition, research, ideation, prototyping, and iteration. The teens had the chance to put these concepts into action by building a tower out of only raw spaghetti and marshmallows!
At the end of the day, what is working in tech all about?
All in all, this was a wonderful day of exploring what a career in tech could look like — and learning that it’s far from just sitting behind a computer screen. Working in tech is about solving problems, being creative, working in teams, and understanding the people you’re building solutions for. A huge thank you to our field trip hosts and volunteer mentors – all of whom made this special day possible. We already can’t wait for next year!
Our Teens Learning Code program is open to girls and non-binary youth between the ages of 13 and 17. Our program offers free opportunities for teens to gain coding skills, make friends, and explore careers in technology through industry events like this one! Check out some of our upcoming events — including a 3-day hackathon on app-making — at our Teens Learning Code program page.