Franklin High School – Teaching Kids Programming

On December 13, IGNITE girls from Franklin High School traveled to Microsoft for a Teaching Kids Programming (TKP) event. Franklin students have turned out in large numbers to IGNITE events, and we were excited for the girls to learn programming and meet more amazing Microsoft women. Steph Burg and Cathy Sullivan were our leaders for the day. Both are incredibly smart women and very good with the students. Steph is a Software Development Engineer on Microsoft Word, has led many TKP events and is an inspiration for many girls. Cathy, a Program Manager with Microsoft, has similarly been involved with IGNITE for many years, since she was just out of college six years ago! Thank you, Steph and Cathy, for your dedication and expertise!

Big thanks also to Franklin Math Teacher Julie O’Brien for her work getting students ready for the day. Julie is new to IGNITE and has proven already to be an incredibly encouraging force, and wonderfully supportive of Franklin girls. Julie has worked with us to coordinate three IGNITE events already this year, and is working on more. Julie’s hard work can be seen in the number of opportunities she provides to students, and the large group she turns out to each event. We are excited to continue partnering with her in the coming months and years. Thank you, Julie!

Franklin girls had a great time learning to write code using Small Basic. Led by Steph and Cathy, they learned some of the basic programming concepts, such as getters, setters and loops. They put their new knowledge to use when they were challenged to design stars and spirals on their own, which for many girls was the most challenging aspect of the day, and the most rewarding when they figured it out. One thing that is always fun to see is the way volunteers interact with students as they help out around the room. They always ask the right questions to help students think like programmers without giving away the answers. It is fun to watch and a great way of building up the girls skills!

We are so thankful as always to the women from Microsoft who not only spent their morning helping the girls learn Small Basic, but also spoke with them about their experiences as women in high tech careers. Volunteers gave girls the inside scoop on working at Microsoft, including some pointers on landing a job there, as well as the diversity of jobs that suitable to a variety of skills and personalities. Volunteers, thank you for your guidance during the workshop, and for giving girls a glimpse into what is possible for their futures! Thank you to Cathy Sullivan, a Program Manager, Alli Hirt, a Software Development Engineer, Cierra McDonald, a Program Manager for Xbox, Jovana Taylor, a Software Development Engineer in Test, Sonja Nordmark, an International Program Manager, Steph Burg, a Software Design Engineer on Word, and Kathleen Molosky, a Program Manager. We are blown away by your desire to help girls pursue meaningful, interesting careers!

Franklin girls asked a ton of great questions, and the volunteers were engaging and forthright in their responses. One student asked about the opportunities available at Microsoft outside of work hours and the volunteers spoke all about their experiences playing football, volleyball, playing in a jazz band, and going to movies with their coworkers. From painting groups, to choirs, theater troupes, and sports teams, almost any group you can imagine exists at Microsoft. And, as one volunteer said, if the group doesn’t exist yet, just start it yourself!

In addition to the community perks, the panel spoke of the relative ease of moving from one division to another, the substantial salaries, and the opportunities available at Microsoft for those who are social and love working with others. Another theme that was stressed was the importance of learning other languages. Sonja, for example, studied both Computer Science and Languages in college and now works to ensure Microsoft products are translated and culturally competent around the world. Luckily, many of the Franklin girls already speak another language! They are on the right track already.

Thank you to all of you who helped make this day so productive and fun!

Here are the comments from the girls’ evaluation sheets:

  • The thing I liked most about today’s event is that what we learned today could and will make you lots of money.
  • I liked that they included the fun that they have with Microsoft.
  • There are lots of things to do here, it sounds very fun.
  • I liked the programming event about the tortoise. It was fun and I learned about coding.
  • I always thought programming was hard but I actually enjoyed it.
  • If you are a social person, Program Manager is a great job for you if you still like programming. Also, they really need bilingual people and women.
  • I learned that you don’t have to sit all day on a computer and do boring things and you don’t have to be good at math.
  • I like how the ladies explained their jobs to us. I loved everything. And, if you feel like you want the best future, don’t be afraid to do it.
  • I hear many interesting things during the group discussion. One of them was that having a technical background doesn’t only lead to jobs in Microsoft, Apple, etc. It can also lead to other careers in other fields.
  • I liked learning how to code and the different types of engineering in technology.
  • The thing I liked best about today’s event was the question and answer part. It gave me a lot of info on how to get started with a technology of engineering job or degree.
  • I liked communicating with Microsoft works to know about their jobs.
  • I heard that during internships for high school you get paid and the programming is fun!
  • The most interesting thing was the turtle because I enjoy challenges.
  • The women here made their work experience sound so fun, which makes me intrigued to work here.
  • I liked getting our questions answered and hearing about the different events at Microsoft. Learning about the job shadows and internships was also really cool.
  • I thought it was interesting that Microsoft looks for people to work for them all over the world.
  • I liked having lunch with the women, and learning that if you want to change your division you can by either doing an interview or just asking the manager.
  • If you get internships, you can get hired more easily than others that don’t get internships. Also, that there are sports and different activities to do at Microsoft.
  • The most interesting thing I heard today was that you can play sports, they have a big gym, as orchestra and a jazz band, that’s really cool!
  • I learned how to program!
  • I liked best learning how to make the tortoise draw a spiral, and learning to memorize and use commands.
  • I learned that Microsoft offers a job to most females at UW during their junior year.
  • That programming thing is interesting and fun!
  • I liked hearing about the different divisions at Microsoft. Also, learning how to program/hack.
  • The most interesting thing I’ve hear today was that there are perks to speaking another language and it’ll help boost your resume.
  • I like how we had to figure out how to make a spiral after we did all of the coding practice. Also, I liked that the teachers got to tell their own story and give us new and useful information.
  • It was great to get our questions answered during the circle.
  • The thing I liked best was getting to know technical jobs better, and what people in tech companies do.
  • I learned they have internships at Microsoft. I would love to apply.
  • The programming was great and the people/teachers were great, too!
  • I love the way they showed us how to program and how you can use one little thing to change big details. It’s very cool.

Thank you so much for the dedication and energy you put into IGNITE!


View the Franklin High School Chapter Page