By Morgan Johnson, Hack the Hood team member
Hack the Hood visited the headquarters of the most visited website in the world on Tuesday--Facebook!.Arriving in style in our California party pus, Hack the Hood descended on the campus, eager to ask questions and eat all the delicious food.
We first met with Stuart Crabb, who gave us a tour of the campus. Stuart told us the story of Facebook and its recent astromical growth. Not only does Facebook keep outgrowing its headquarters, every day Stuart comes to work, he said, around 2 million new people have joined Facebook. While most people in the U.S. who want Facebook already have accounts, new users from India and China continue to join the site.
Walking down Hacker Way, it was hard not to feel like we were in some fantasy world, like Disneyland. Our first stop was at the Facebook Sweet Shop, where we all treated ourselves to ice cream cones and cookies, and for good measure we stopped in the newly opened arcade. Different themed free eateries lined the street, and it was difficult to resist the temptation to try all of them. Stuart warned us about the “Facebook 15,” but it was a one-day all you can eat experience, and we threw caution to the wind.
After romping through the campus, Stuart gave a workshop about playing to our strengths, based on an assessment we'd taken online the day before (see strengthfinders.com). Why is it, he said, that parents usually focus on their child’s worst grade, rather than on their best? By playing to our strengths, we can find the most promising area for personal growth. But what is “a strength”? Is it just something that you’re naturally good at?
Stuart defined a strength as something you’re good at that also gives you joy. A natural talent for math is not a strength if you don’t like math, Stuart said. The Hack the Hood team compared our test results on a strength assessment. Some of our strengths were futuristic, empathetic, strategic, and relator. It was an eye-opening exercise that made us think about what kind of careers or roles we could take on in the future, and affirmed that we all have something special to bring the table.
Stuart’s talk was followed by a panel of Facebook workers from diverse areas of the company who talked about what they did, how they got their job, and how they overcame obstacles to get to their position. They spoke about the importance of getting mentors and establishing long-term relationships with the people you work with. We had dinner with some of the panelists and continued the conversation over, once again, amazing food!
Feeling inspired and full, we returned to the party bus. The lights dimmed and Juan, our program coordinator and resident DJ, bumped the Bay music. Hack the Hood took a little bit of the Silicon Valley back to Oakland.
Many Hack the Hood interns were surprised to learn that the Ask.com headquarters are located right in our own backyard in downtown Oakland. We visited their office in the City Center building on Thursday and continued our ongoing conversation about the future of technology with Ask.com Senior PR Manager Suraya Akbarzad and Software Engineers Andrew Govberg, Aaron Madsen, and Hitesh Shah.
Our top 10 moments from the trip:
Thanks for hosting Hack the Hood, Ask.com!
Greetings Hack the Hood community! I was actually a bit late to our Open House event, but for good reason - I hauled over a bag of approximately 5 dozen bagels to feed the youth - thank you Beauty's Bagel Shop and Noah's Bagels!
Let me start off by saying thank you to all of the volunteers and interested personnel who attended our Open House yesterday - you guys rock and we're looking forward to working with you!
Here's how the event played out: Initially, we all met in the multipurpose room and our Hack the Hood team introduced themselves and the fundamentals of the program. Next, Juan Gomez and Max Gibson gave a great visual presentation of the youth's work, highlighting some of the websites that they have already made (to see a stellar example, check out Solespace's spiffy website).
Part 2 involved us splitting the volunteers up into two groups, with one group which wanted to work firsthand with the youth and the other devoted to back-end support. The photo above displays the latter group in a Q&A and sharing session, where each person described their interest in the organization and which assets she/he brought to the table.
If you weren't able to make our Open House event, don't worry! We will reach out to everyone and figure out how you can play to your strengths and add to our Hack the Hood ecosystem.
That's all for now - Everyone's very busy at the moment, preparing for our field trip toFacebook today! Stay tuned
“Real World Practitioners” Jose Lopez of TUMIS.com, Kristin Long of MIGHTY Minnow, and our very own program assistant Max Gibson of Wine & Bowties presented the stories of their web enterprises to the Hack the Hood team on July 18.
Another piece of advice Lopez offered: get good at one thing. In order to succeed, web developers need to decide on their role, which can be a front-end engineer, a back-end engineer, a designer, a UI/UX (user interface/user experience designer), or “DevOps,” who “just have ideas,” said.
Lopez, like Kristin Long, has been highly successful in their careers even though most of their clients are non-profits.
“I won’t work with anyone I wouldn’t have dinner with,” Minnow said. “That’s a pretty awesome lifestyle to have—to set the ground rules and tone to have a relationship with someone and how you’re gonna do it.”
Minnow also started her career with little means, and emphasized that “you don’t need anything special to do what we do.”
Both Lopez and Minnow are attracted to working with people on social justice causes. Tumis has an all people of color staff, and develops websites for clients such as the UC Student Association, Eat Real Festival, the East Bay Local Development Corporation, I-SEEED, and more. Tumis also uses their branding expertise to advocate for movements and causes, making posters to commemorate Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant.
Long designs websites for clients such as Friends of the Urban Forest, TechWomen, San Francisco Suicide Prevention, the Indiegogo Blog, and others. She also uses MIGHTYMinnow as a platform to teach D.I.Y. Website Classes. Working with nonprofits, Long says, is rewarding because she can improve their ability to make change.
Both Lopez and Long spend a lot of time doing exactly what our team at Hack the Hood is working on: optimizing websites for mobile displays.
Lopez describes the current state of web design as an “eco-system” containing a website, mobile app, tablet view, Twitter card, Tumblr, and other packages. “You don’t just want the website to look good, you want everything attached to the website to look good,” he said.
Max Gibson started his lifestyle website, Wine & Bowties, when he was still in college. Of his many startup ideas brewing, this was the one that stuck. “The thing is that the idea is only the beginning,” he said. “Its really about the execution. The second you put action behind the idea, that’s when things start happening. That’s when the magic happens.”
Though Wine & Bowties started as a personal blog, it has expanded to more of an online magazine, publishing poetry, and thought pieces, album reviews from people around the world.
“We’ve attracted contributors from Oakland, SF, LA, New Orleans, NY, D.C., and even Bristol, England. It has provided a platform for these people to express themselves.”
This week, Wine & Bowties launched an online store, selling t-shirts, Max’s hand lettered stationary, and a photo book.
“It’s been a labor of love for real,” he said.
Jose Lopez: TUMIS.com
Personally, I'm a huge fan of Thai food, especially when it has basil in it. But when I went to pick up an awesome donation from Oaktown Jerk, I was completely unprepared for the delicious-looking Thai basil beef jerky that owner Randall Hughes presented to me! Who knew that beef jerky could be so artisan? Randall's jerky will help feed the youth in our Hack the Hood program as part of our weekly provided snacks, and we are so grateful for his support.
But much as I love talking about food, I've got to touch on some other exciting happenings at Hack the Hood. Tomorrow, the youth are going to speak with Osandi Sekoú Robinson, creator of Vnylst, an app that's designed to connect vinyl collectors with vinyl merchants. On Thursday, we're hosting a "Real World Practitioners" panel of guest speakers, including Jose Lopez (TUMIS), Kristin Long (MIGHTYminnow) and Max Gibson (Wine and Bowties). These speakers will give brief presentations about the work that they're doing, and will be great role models for the young people in our program.
Next week proves to be just as exciting, as Hack the Hood will take a field trip to Ask.com and have a similar panel with its employees. More to come on that later! We're also in talks with Facebook about going on a field trip to check out its megaplex down in the South Bay - keep your fingers crossed!
Also next week - Hack the Hood Open House - Monday, July 22nd from 5 - 7 pm at United Roots (2781 Telegraph Ave):
This will be a great opportunity for you, our HTH community, to come visit our digs, meet HTH staff and learn more about our program. Whether you're a merchant, potential volunteer or simply a curious Oaklander, our Open House will be the ideal place for you to mingle and learn how you can best support our movement.
Stay Tuned! Thanks for reading!
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.