This interview is part of the City of Philadelphia’s Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative. Campus Philly is featuring the “Philly stories” of Black and Brown tech founders, entrepreneurs, and young professionals who are making an impact in the region, demonstrating why the Philadelphia region IS the most diverse tech hub.
Jasmine grew up in New York City but has spent most of her life in Philadelphia. She currently attends Temple University and is in her second year studying Computer Science. This past summer she worked with Coded By Kids-Draft Studios as a developer and is continuing to work with them as a UI/UX designer.
On her free time Jasmine likes to go hiking, travel (been to 21 states so far), write calligraphy and visit museums. Alongside her passions with art and technology, she hopes to inspire others and the community around her.
Keep reading to learn more about Jasmine’s Philly story and her experience at Coded By Kids!
Tell us about your “Philly story.” What is your connection to the region, and what made you want to pursue a Computer Science degree in the Philly area?
My story with Philly goes far back—as it’s where I spent the majority of my life. It’s the city that I’ve grown up in and hold as home in my heart. Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent too much time here (haha), but there is something captivating about this place that lures me back.
That leads me to where I am now. I decided to stay in my hometown and attend university here. Part of me wanted to discover more about the city, stay close to family, and see what else is out there. More specifically, there are great connections and companies in the Philly area and I knew that would be essential for my career path.
You were selected for the Tech and Innovation Internship program for Coded by Kids – Draft Studios, and were recently asked to stay on as a member of the Draft Studios team. How did you maximize your summer internship to pursue this open opportunity?
I’d say the biggest factor in getting asked to return to the team was my curiosity and initiative to learn. During the summer I realized that there was more to being an intern than just developing code. My 10-week opportunity was also a chance for me to experiment and learn as much as I could. I saw that there were resources all around me, so why not use that to my advantage?
My managers were key to my growth. Besides answering questions about work, they were more of a mentor passing on their knowledge and insight. One of my managers introduced me to user interface and user experience (UI/UX). As something new and intriguing to me, it sparked my interest and I started self-learning about it and working on side projects outside of what I was assigned. I think connecting with my company’s culture and values made it a match for us to continue working together.
When did you first discover that you wanted to pursue a career in tech?
I actually never thought I would be working in tech. Although I remember a lot of my life in front of a computer or screen, it was never obvious as I had passions elsewhere. I’ve always been a writer at heart, journaling about my day and my thoughts. Then in high school I branched off and digitized my journal. From writing on paper, I was now writing on an online blog. With the website builder I used for my blog, I remember getting frustrated with how it looked because of the limited templates that were provided. From that, I found myself searching and learning all about how websites work; how they are built and created. I messed around with the styling of colors and fonts, which ironically ended up being my first introduction to the world of coding. I found it fun—and I wondered what else I could do.
From there I followed a career path in tech.
What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on thus far at Coded by Kids ?
Definitely the project I worked on this summer. It was the first time I worked on a collaborative project with a whole team. It was new for me to work under a project manager, other developers, and a user designer. The environment was something different from what I am used to at school. Besides learning many new soft and technical skills, the value of self-worth and confidence was something that resonated with me during this process. In the end I was really proud of the final product my team and I accomplished that brought awareness to an event!
How has your internship allowed you to grow your network and make new professional connections?
Throughout the internship I attended many workshops and professional development events. There I got to meet many employees and hear fascinating stories and learn what drives them. From nonprofits, to banking, to fashion companies I was able to connect not only with the employees, but also with the company itself, understanding their mission, values, and philanthropies. The social impact and change they were all trying to do created an eye-opening experience that redefined my own perspective and opinions.
What do you love most about Philly’s tech community?
I believe within the tech community we are all trying to contribute in some way to the greater good. Tech is such an active part of our daily lives that leaders are needed to help shape the world of tech that we live in. And that’s where I think Philly’s tech hub steps in to make a positive contribution.
Take for example my employer, Coded By Kids, who is providing underrepresented youth in Philly with opportunities in software development, digital design, computer science, and tech startup-focused entrepreneurship education programs. Philly’s tech hub is actively changing the future day by day, starting with the community that we serve. In the end, technology is constantly changing and providing resources with education, accessibility, and convenience are essential. There is also a great amount of diversity and talent here in Philly. I am sure you can easily meet someone with an interesting background!
If you could share one piece of advice for a college student interested in pursuing a career in tech, what would it be?
Be open and try something new! If you are a bit interested in anything involving tech, I’d give it a shot. There are so many things you can do within tech and it can be applied in almost every field. Take my story into consideration—who knows where tech will take you!