Julia McCavitt, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, just finished reading Pride and Prejudice for a book club she’s in with some friends and she’s excited to start trigonometry in her favorite class in school, math. Julia is the definition of having diverse interests, and now because of Code Nation, she’s found another passion: coding.

Even though Julia had some previous experience with coding, she didn’t find it the most exciting. But when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted her high school to a completely online format during her first year, most of Julia’s other activities were no longer offered. Knowing that coding is an entirely web-based activity, Julia decided to give it another try in Code Nation’s Intro to Web Development class. In that first class, she created a character that navigated through a story the user developed, in a “build your own adventure,” style. “It turned out to be really fun,” Julia said as she remembered her project and class. “So, I just kept going!”

We asked Julia what she enjoyed most in her exposure to coding through Code Nation. She loved the creativity in the projects she did, and that she could apply her problem solving skills to the work. “I like that I was able to work on it on my own, or in a group,” she said. Julia had landed on, and mastered, an essential skill that’s built through learning to code. “When you work with other people, you can have such a variety of ideas, and so much more creativity happening than working by yourself.” In addition to working on projects with other students in class, Julia worked with Code Nation volunteer teachers to learn things like APIs (application programming interfaces) and how to track down additional resources about coding and computer science online outside of class.

That summer, Julia spent a week creating an online treasure hunt using CSS, HTML, and Javascript through an online week-long course offered by Code Nation in preparation for her first Fellowship with Dropbox. During Fellowship I, Julia told us that one of the most valuable things was access to employees at a tech company. “I liked working with the volunteers, because I was able to ask about what it’s like to have a job in tech, and I liked the connections I made,” Julia shared.

She also shared how inspired she was by learning about all the different paths that the volunteers had taken in their careers. Some had degrees in computer science, some didn’t, and some were interested in coding early on, while others weren’t. “I thought you had to be interested in coding early on in life, or you need to have a specific degree to land a job at a tech company, but it showed me you can come from any place in life and still succeed in tech.”

Julia just started Fellowship II in partnership with Google, where for now she’s reviewing her skills and practicing coding exercises. As she reflected on what she’s learned through her classes with Code Nation so far, she talked about improving her collaboration skills. She even learned professional skills, like resume writing and what happens in an interview.

After high school, Julia wants to go to college – she’s got her eyes on a STEM school like Georgia Tech – and wants to major in computer science or software engineering. She sees herself working at a tech company, but it doesn’t need to be a big name; Julia just wants to make a difference. “I want to make an impact, helping people who want a website built for their company or need data processed. I just want to help people with my coding skills, however that may be.” 

This post is part of our #10YearsOfCodeNation celebration. We’re sharing the stories of our people: students, alums, volunteers, partners, and the committed staff who bring our vision to life.

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