Boom! Walking into Capital One Labs the evening of Wednesday June 7 — well, you could immediately feel the intensity, anticipation and nervous, yet excited energy. Racing around the open-concept work space, prepping to demo their apps, were middle school students (participants in Capital One’s 10-week C1 Coders program). Definitely a higher octane of energy than I have experienced at other demo nights.
The enthusiasm in this evening — the joy imbedded in the learning process, the profound impact of being listened to and mentored, why we need to build in time to play, and challenged to create the wildly possible (such as a weather / pizza delivery / chat app) remains with me a week later. And I only encountered these kids and this program for a few hours!
So, how about the Capital One associates who volunteer to participate as C1 Coders mentors? They get 10 weeks of this adrenaline boost! And recalibrating what is and what can be. It should come as no surprise that these volunteers are as wildly enthusiastic about the program as the kids. Not simply because they have the chance to mentor the future talent pipeline in a discipline they love, no, it is equally for the reminders that come from perspective of youth — and the learnings from these kids, the associates are incorporating into their jobs.
I ask C1 Coders mentor Jodi Young how she had grown as a leader / manager as a result of the program.
I’ve learned to be more patient and to give others time to assimilate material learned. We each learn at a different pace and I could bring in my prior learning experience to identify the different learning styles of the students. I’ve now brought back this experience to the office when working with my teammates on projects.
As for what she’s learned from her mentees….
I’ve learned to relax and let my imagination soar. A lot of times, as we get older, we tend to forget about the role our imagination plays in creativity. We like to think we are creative without actually utilizing our imaginations. Working with these students and hearing some of their far-fetched ideas made me realize that I have been taking life way too seriously. Now I take time to periodically day dream and be led by my imagination, regardless of how outlandish they may be. Always give your inner child room to play and grow.
Through its Future Edge initiative, launched in 2015, Capital One is focusing $150 million over five years in community grants and support efforts to help more Americans get the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. As a part of the initiative, Capital One is collaborating with leading educational and community organizations across the country to address areas of critical need for the nation’s ability to grow and prosper in the digital age (C1 Coders is a great example of this!). The goal is to help more Americans develop the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow; help entrepreneurs succeed in the digital age; and provide money management resources to prepare people for future economic success.
The Capital One C1 Coders Program is an ongoing effort to help students develop a greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, and get excited about technology during a critical period in their education. In the 10-week program, Capital One volunteers teach sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students across the country about problem solving, teamwork and the basic principles of software development by exploring touchscreens and learning about motion detection, control and coding.
Additionally, students learn how to create their own mobile applications using MIT University’s App Inventor — ultimately giving them a glimpse of what a career in technology looks like. Students unveil their apps at Capital One C1 Coders closing events (like at this one recently held in NYC) where they compete for prizes in four categories: Best Application, Most User Friendly, Most Creative and Most Technical Application.
Yes, I’m a #CapitalOnePartner and proudly have the privilege of working with an inclusive company, aiming to make a difference.