Meet Diana, Sofia, Annebelle, and Jordan – scholars from Kode With Klossy’s 2016 summer camp in Los Angeles (a.k.a “Kloss Angeles”). They had the opportunity to join #BuiltByGirls at Snapchat for an evening of fun and learning centered around digital storytelling and being a woman in the technology industry. They gave us the scoop on their adventures to Snapchat and beyond:
Tell us about your most recent koding adventure to Snapchat.
Annebelle: My most recent koding adventure to Snapchat was a surprise – I received an email getting invited to attend an event at Snapchat in Venice, and I immediately looked at the attendee list and saw Sofia and Diana on it. I had to contain my excitement that this event was real and that my friends were going! Jordan (fellow Kloss Angeles scholar) and I eventually made plans to carpool there together and we had the chance to get caught up on each other’s lives while sitting in traffic on the way to Venice.
Not too long ago, Kloss Angeles was invited to attend a private event at Snapchat hosted by #BUILTBYGIRLS to learn more about the tech behind the app. Of course, we were so excited to learn how one of the most commonly used applications of our generation. Even though it was in the middle of a school week and there’s insane traffic from where I live to Venice at 5 PM, during rush hour, I knew I just had to go. So the kalculator
and I had set off, and it was absolutely spectacular. We got to the office space and I was so happy to see all the girls I hadn’t seen since camp! I hadn’t seen Jordan in months, but I had actually been to a hackathon with Diana and Annebelle the weekend before, but it had still felt like forever.
The theme of the event was “digital storytelling”. What did you talk about? Did you get to work on any projects?
Diana: A couple of Snapchat software engineers and designers had an open-ended discussion, inviting attendees to ask questions about the app, company, or coding behind it. Learned a couple fun facts: Animators are actually involved in sketching a filter, which is handcrafted and later turned into a 3D filter work of art. During the 2016 Presidential election, employees had to keep updating the electoral votes on the app by searching the results every second to stay on track.
There was an activity involving which group can build the highest tower using cups, tape, scissors, straws, and other basic essentials. There was only five minutes to come up with a plan and test it if it works or fails. My group came up with an idea on how could we make a tower where it’s not heavy, so that it won’t tumble down. Even though we didn’t win, I learned that in working as a group everyone has to cooperate, share their ideas, and come up with a plan.
Sofia: It was very inspiring to see an all female panel (!) because that’s something I’ve found to be rare in the tech industry. We talked about the paths they had taken on their way to becoming a successful software, mechanical, or electrical engineer, and how their initial career plan transformed. For example, one of the engineers had planned to be an astrophysicist and worked at NASA, but realized the potential hidden for her in the world of code. That really stuck with me because as of the beginning of this year, I hadn’t even thought about coding as a career choice, but I did know that I was intrigued by health sciences; and just like her, I now realize the options I have in both of the fields that I love (talk about the ultimate role model)! We also talked about how to avoid gender bias in a field lacking in equal representation, and how to show those who doubt you that you truly can change the world. It was an absolutely brilliant and stimulating conversation that I felt so empowered to be a part of.
How did Kode With Klossy prepare you for your time at Snapchat?
Sofia: It’s kind of funny actually, we programmed “snapchat” at KWK LA, and it functionally did the same as the app did (we just didn’t have time to make it pretty). When we had gotten to the “tech deep dive” of the meeting, we were familiar with so much of the type of code that went into app production! We had expanded from what we had already learned at camp, I actually went home and altered a few things on the Snapchat we made.
Annebelle: After Kode With Klossy, I learned to not be afraid of meeting new girls who know/are interested in coding and all things tech, so I sat at a table next to Jordan and lead a group conversation about why and how everyone came to be interested in technology. I loved how every girl I talked to had something special that they contributed to encouraging girls into exploring tech, and it was really inspiring to hear everyone’s stories. (we all follow each other on social media now too!)
Diana: Kode With Klossy taught me that a young woman like me should never give up my dreams and to ignore the negativity anything related to “women can’t code” or “coding is too much work for a woman”. My experience helped me have a conversation with people at Snapchat involving my coding skills, projects, and my future goals. In addition, coding is a way to express your ideas and creativity is important to succeed in life. Learning programming languages, like HTML and Ruby, has helped me with teaching others how to explain my assignments by using phrases or terms involving technology. My mentors from Kode With Klossy have demonstrated that I should be proud of how I’m a young woman who is part of the tech industry that is making a change by being a role model to others. The major key thing that I learned from (@Snap Inc.) and Kode With Klossy is that if an opportunity comes around you should get involved because it opens your eyes to new ideas, internships, and possibilities of a job.
What was the biggest thing you learned?
Sofia: The biggest thing I learned from this gathering was that it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey to success, and that you don’t need to have your entire life plan set in stone. In the day and age that we live in, code can easily be integrated into nearly any area of study, and is the perfect platform to ignite change in this world.
Annebelle: The biggest thing I learned at Snapchat HQ is outside of digital storytelling – I learned that there is hope for the future in females entering the tech world. So many of the girls I met are motivated to advance computer science education in their schools and be a female role model in tech, and I was so inspired by that. We are definitely making leaps towards gender equality and the elimination of gender stereotyping in technology careers.
What other projects have you been working on since camp? Any other tech adventures outside of the Snapchat visit?
A few months ago, I participated in a hackathon at Pomona College, which you could create anything that would impress both college students and judges. My team and I were the only youngest group involved and we only had 12 hours to complete our project. My team and I decided to create a website where you could learn about the problems happening in the world and how you could make a difference by donating, volunteering, or spreading the word. Some other groups created retro games, an app where you could keep updated with your laundry duties, and other amazing creations. My team and I didn’t win the intermediate hacker division, but we had a great time experiencing our first hackathon as a Kode With Klossy team. Project: Give Change
I’m also participating in the Technovation Challenge, where you pick a topic from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and create a mobile app from that. I’m focused on education, poverty, and health, which I believe are the most important global issues to tackle.
Annebelle: I have been working on a lot of my own projects after Kode With Klossy. The most recent one I can tell you about is a meat calculator – I have wanted to create a calculator that determines how much of a chicken, pig, or cow you have eaten in one week. It would be in the form of a website and have interactive features, and no theme would be used – everything would be coded on my own!
After being inspired by the St. Louis Smart Kookies’ wins at STL CAPS hackathon and GlobalHack, Sofia and I started to research hackathons everywhere. I hit up the Kode With Klossy LA group chat and we got a team of five together and created a web app in eleven hours at Pomona College’s 5CHackathon. For a bunch of first-timers, it was a fun experience. This led me to find more hackathons for Kloss Angeles to participate in, so I always update the group chat with any new ones that I find. Also – Kamryn Ohly, Sofia Ongele, and I have formed a team for the Technovation Challenge and are in the middle of the curriculum with a mentor. We have a solid app idea that could potentially help many people. I am incredibly excited!
Sofia: Since camp, I’ve been working on a sort of networking web application that would allow the Kode With Klossy community to share our achievements and opportunities, connect with each other for code projects, get help on code, and just to communicate. This project has been taking forever, but I know it’s definitely going to be worth it. Our group of girls is such a tight-knit community that I’m so fortunate to be a part of, and they’re all so brilliant with what they’re able to accomplish, it’s absolutely incredible, and I thought it would be great for us to have one place, rather than countless apps, to showcase ourselves and just get to know each other better!
I couldn’t be more grateful to be in the Kode with Klossy community, I have really found a group of best friends in these girls. Not only that, I’ve learned what I want to do with life, and it’s to innovate our society with the power tech holds, and I’m so happy to have gotten a head start at a younger age. The sooner we realize the increased potential this skill gives us in the workforce, the better off we’ll be in the future. I can’t wait to share this super power with more and more girls!
Jordan, Sofia, and Annebelle strike an excited pose at Snapchat HQ in Venice, CA
Annebelle, Jordan, and Sofia take a selfie at Snapchat HQ in Venice, CA
Jodan, Sofia, and Annebelle representing Kloss Angeles at Snapchat, HQ in Venice, CA