This summer, Coded by Kids hosted 18 interns through our Tech and Innovation Internship and OpportunityPHL mentorship programs, which connects underrepresented students in Philadelphia with industry professionals. Broken up into teams, the students worked together to solve problems, gain valuable advice from mentors and learn from our partners during site visits and virtual workshops.
Team Draft2Code, made up of Project Manager Irie Z., UI/UX Designer Ari M., Lead Web Developer Amadin A., and Web Developer Neirah H., worked together solving problems that impact their community.
Think Like a Founder
Coded by Kids aims to cultivate tech and start up leaders. To equip black and brown students with the knowledge and tools they need to not only work in the field of technology, but to be able to build their own startups and be their own founders and CEOs. For the Think Like a Founder project, the group was asked to think of 20 problems, go through the ideation process, and choose one problem to solve.
Draft2Code’s problem statement was:
A language barrier gap exists between Spanish-speaking communities in various areas (for example education, healthcare, mental health services) that stems from those services’ disconnectedness from these communities and under emphasizing their needs.
Why did they choose this problem? The group’s UI/UX Designer Ari says “Firstly, the potential. This problem expands across various areas. It’s not only Spanish speaking communities that face language barriers, but also other immigrant communities that speak various other languages. It’s applicable to many sectors of services because language is a necessity for all…and we wanted to choose a problem in which we could make the world more accessible to those groups that’s usually under-represented.”
Language is the umbilical cord of culture.
To research the problem, the group spoke with Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit that empowers the Latinx community, listened to a podcast called Living in Philly without English, spoke to family members and interpreters who have experience with this issue, and did target market interviews. One of the interpreters said something that resonated with Ari. She said “Language is the umbilical cord of culture.” Ari explained that “language is tied to culture and that those are both very important for your identity and your well being. And even with interpretation, sometimes cultural nuances or cultural context isn’t understood or translated. And that’s when that umbilical cord is severed and the problem of language barriers arises.” So the group began working on Interconnect, a simple and accessible website to connect those who need interpretive services and those who are interpreters. Their mission statement is:
We believe in the power of language interpretation and connection to bridge existing language barriers. And we strive to increase language accessibility by connecting interpreters to the organizations and communities that need them.
Through this project, the group learned the necessity of having a well thought out problem statement, the importance of user data collection and understanding your user personas. They also learned the importance of working towards making your community better.
In addition to creating Interconnect, we asked the group to work on a real world project: the admin side of an application dashboard for the Draft Studio’s website. With a client and deliverables, the group was able to work together and provide a working tool that will help the Draft Studio’s team during the next round of intern applications.
The OpportunityPHL mentorship program not only gave our students real world work experience, but allowed them to make connections in the field and see where tech can take them. Lead Developer Amadin reflected on the experience and said “I feel like as a developer, I grew in two aspects, development and communication…CBK gave me a foundation and now it’s time to blossom from it.”
When asked what their favorite part of the summer was, Ari explained that “before this internship, my only view of tech was my computer science classes and everyone around me in those classes, they didn’t look like me… CBK is very diverse and working in a diverse group really inspires me. I would say that changed my view of how tech can be.”
Web Developer Neirah grew a lot this summer, saying that her “biggest takeaway is the importance of communicating and connecting with everyone. My managers really helped me grow as a developer and as a person. In addition, communicating with my team while doing these two projects really put it in perspective for me of what teamwork really is.”