Changing the Course with Girls Who Code — Meet Sydney

Each year, we’re honored to join Girls Who Code (GWC) for their Summer Immersion Program, a free 7-week coding camp where girls across the country are hosted at local tech companies to learn coding, professionalism, and network with each other. And each year, we’re in awe of the camaraderie, innovation, and growth of each of these students.

One such student is Sydney H, a 16-year-old from Cornwall High School in NY who is part of our summer program here at Microsoft New York. Sydney is a bright, dedicated student planning on going to an elite college after high school, with her eyes set on either computer science or biomedical engineering. She’s interested in the convergence of art and tech that engineering provides, calling it the “best of best worlds.”

We sat down with Sydney to explore her Girls Who Code experience:

What brought you to Girls Who Code?

My school doesn’t offer that many computer science classes, or tech opportunities in general. I was really interested in learning how to code. The future is all technology, and if I want to go into engineering or STEM in general, I’ll have to know how to code to work with new inventions and innovations.

What kind of coding experience did you have before the summer immersion program?

I did the Hour of Code — they came to our school my freshman and sophomore year. We used Scratch for a day, but the event wasn’t really promoted. If we wanted to do it, we had to go during our free period. When I went to the library, there were about five students there. I went home and showed my younger sister the website, and she was so excited — she wasn’t exposed to that yet in middle school. It was cool to see how everything comes together.

How does coding empower you?

I think that coding empowers me because it gives me the ability to transform the world. As the years go on, technology is becoming bigger and bigger. Through tech, you have the power to help millions of people with their everyday needs. If you have the ability to code you have access to technology. If you have that, you have access to help the world.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned this summer?

The best thing is probably all the languages — there’s so many different ones. We went to visit LinkedIn and one of the employees there told us, “If you know JavaScript and Python, you can work at LinkedIn.” We had just learned Python the day before! It made me realize that knowing those languages can really help you get a job, because you can use coding in different elements.

“We have the ability to be just as powerful as men, if not more, and throughout this cooperation we can do great things.”

What are some highlights from the SIP so far?

Meeting a whole bunch of girls who are just as motivated and inspired as me. A lot of time in school it’s co-ed, and you can feel like the guys are overpowering you sometimes. Here, it’s all girls — you feel the whole sisterhood thing. You know they’re going to be here for you no matter what, and later in life we’ll need each other to get through the STEM field and process it as a woman. We have the ability to be just as powerful as men, if not more, and throughout this cooperation we can do great things.

Has GWC changed your path at all?

I’m definitely interested more in Computer Science. Before the program, I was really set on biomedical engineering, but now, I’m just like, “Whoa — this is really cool!” We even made our own game. I’ve played Flappy Bird before and this summer I made my own version, and it wasn’t as hard as i thought it was.

What advice do you have for future Girls Who Code?

Tell them to tell their friends to join. The more the merrier! I really want girls to feel like they have the power to do whatever they set their minds to. In the STEM field right now, that’s really not the case. We can change that. Bring a friend!

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