by Teresa Flores, Youth Participant
As soon as you walk into United Roots on a weekday morning you see around 15 to 20 youth surrounding two tables in the middle of the center. They are all working hard on designing websites for their clients.
“Hey Max can you QA my website?” asks Adrian.
Max walks over does a Quality Assurance check on Adrian’s website before he’s cleared to show it to his client. Adrian gets two thumbs up from Max, who moves on to the next interns that are patiently waiting to QA their work.
Is this a group of students a local youth center?
No, it’s the 2014 cohort of Hack the Hood. While it may sound like I’m part of any ordinary organization, Hack the Hood is much more than that. In just seven short days, I have learned how to build websites, be professional, and work with other youth.
Hack the Hood is a program that helps low-income youth in the Bay Area gain tech skills and professional experience. Youth participants build websites for small local businesses to help them gain online visibility and attain new customers.
The first week we learned the five principles of web design which are know your audience, K.I.S.S (keep it super simple), map out/architecture, form and function, and first impression/user flow. We also started designing our own website to have a better understanding of the platform that we will be using.
In the second week we went through a website design challenge to demonstrate our skills that we have learned. At the end of the sprint, we all had to share our end product to the cohort and get feedback from the instructors.
Now we’re in the most important phase: building sites for our clients. Our sites reflect a diverse array of Oakland businesses, including cafes, burger joints, and children’s clothing stores, so we’re getting a lot of experience.
Hack the Hood also provides mentors from Bay Area tech corporations that guide us through making career goals in tech and building a pipeline to get there. We meet with our mentors once a week and show them what we have done so far. Having mentors supports us because they are people bursting with knowledge. We can ask them anything we want that informs us more about the tech industry, and they teach us some of the skills that they have.
We also get a chance to visit top tech companies like Facebook, Pandora, Google and other companies in the Bay Area.
This will help us picture ourselves in tech related jobs because we will have had experience being at the tech companies. In addition, this will help us think about the connections that we should make if we want to be in a tech company.
By the end of the summer, we will have learned not only how to build websites, but also how to enter the tech industry as tech professionals.
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News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.