Hack It Till You Make It with Tech Boston Academy

A couple of weeks ago hack/reduce and TechBoston Academy held an event called "hack it till you make it", sponsored by Oracle Academy.  The event was attended by TechBoston's 9th–12th grade students who are interested in computer science and consisted of talks, lectures and a tour of the startups ThreatStack and Hopper.

The event started out with Gina Nebesar leading a talk and Q&A. Gina is currently the VP of Product Development and Marketing at Ovuline and is a Harvard Business School graduate.  Gina talked about her background, the importance of learning a hard skill (like engineering), her experiences at Harvard Business School, being a women in tech, being a founder of a company, and why startups need employees like the students from Tech Boston Academy.  In addition, she talked about how learning a skill like engineering helped improve her ability to get jobs, which improved her quality of life (e.g, financially, she had money to travel the world, ability to save money helped her go to B school), and how she used the analytical abilities she acquired via her engineering background to do jobs that she never had experience in before -- like switching from working as an engineer to founding her own apparel company.  

Gina also demoed her company, Ovuline's, iOS app.  The kids asked her a lot of great questions and she ended the hour by inviting them to stay in touch, visit her startup, and possibly intern at her company if they were interested.  

Following Gina, Alex Jarvis, a developer at Terrible Labs, lead the students in a front-end development workshop using Oracle's Code Academy and walked them through the Oracle Academy website.  The students blazed through 28 exercises in JavaScript, loved it, learned a lot, and wanted to learn more.

Finally we toured the students through startups, Hopper and ThreatStack.  Both companies did a demo of their products and the kids were ecstatic to experience what a startup is like, see the technology, learn about what problems the companies are solving, and hear more about the experiences of the presenters.  Both the founder and VP of Engineering at ThreatStack even offered internships!  

Overall, this event was something very special for the students.  They showed tons of talent, were smart, funny, extremely interested, offered great opportunities like mentorships and internships, and exposed them to lots of new opportunities.

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