What do you do for work? Please tell us about your business.
"MIGHTYminnow makes websites for all kinds of clients, but our specialty is working with small businesses and nonprofits. We work hard to make websites that are both beautiful and easy for our clients to maintain in-house. We specialize in WordPress based websites; we like WordPress because it is open source and extensible, while being packed with features."
How did you get involved with HTH?
"I got involved with HTH after introductions from United Roots and the Jonas Foundation. I immediately saw the potential for a great collaboration between MIGHTYminnow and Hack the Hood, as we make websites professionally and we have a lot of experience we can share with aspiring web designers and developers."
Why are you involved with HTH?
"I live and work within walking distance of all of the HTH meeting places. The community that HTH impacts is my community, and as a citizen of this community and of Oakland as a whole, I want to see our town constantly improving. One very concrete way to improve Oakland is to help people who need jobs obtain jobs. A step in that process is to empower people to pursue career goals by showing them examples of how it can be done. As a young person, I didn't understand the ways in which the world was open to me, and ready for me to plug into it and participate in it. It took me a long time for me to realize that I could make my own opportunities, and now that I understand that, I'd like to share my experience with young people. If this has the added side benefit of making my community more vibrant, healthy, and more fun, all the better!"
Why do you think HTH is important?
"I think it is very important to help young people connect with opportunities for work and personal growth. I also think that helping young people with soft skills--communication, professionalism, emotional intelligence--is key to helping them become employable and valuable members of any team. I love the idea that HTH is working to help young people not just with technical skills, but with all of the skills they need to be hirable. I was very impressed with the integrated approach the program takes, and I especially like the "work" model where students receive pay for their participation. In almost every aspect, HTH is hitting the mark in terms of helping young people become employable, and just as importantly, *believe* that they are employable."
What impressed you about the students last year?
"The students impressed me all the way around. They were open, able to articulate the work they were doing and comfortable getting feedback and constructive criticism. I especially liked hearing how the program had impacted them and learning about their future plans (like college)."
As a small business entrepeneur, what do you think are the most important skills to learn?
"The list of things that you need to know to own a business--and moreover a technology business--is unfathomably long. That said, the most valuable skills are: communication, confidence and love of learning. Communication is key because you have to be able to come to common ground with clients, teammates, vendors, and everyone involved. Being able to listen and speak the language of the person you are trying to connect with, in an non-defensive and open way, is absolutely key. That said, you need to have confidence in what you do and don't know. Being able to articulate your thoughts, and to defend them (in a non-defensive way, of course) is key; however, almost as important, is having the confidence to admit what you don't know, which is always a lot in a technology related field. Finally, you have to be willing to learn constantly, you have to love that aspect of work and life, and you have to be constantly seeking out new ideas, methods and modes, and workflows--without losing relevance. And it happens really fast!"
What's the biggest challenge when working with youth in tech?
"I'm not sure what the biggest challenge is. Money, access, time? It takes money to train people, those people need access to technology inside and outside of the training, and it takes time to gain competence. Time committed both by the students and the trainers. The more of these three components are available to programs like HTH, the more effective they will be."
Kristin Long, is a Bay Area based web developer and technology trainer.
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.