Volunteering Beyond Borders: Empowering the Next Generation of Coders with Code Nation

Sunny Patel

November 09, 2023

I recently had the opportunity to work with Code Nation at Lindblom High School in Chicago — all from my New Jersey office. Thanks to Code Nation, an organization 8th Light partners with to unlock opportunities for high school students interested in technology and software, I was able to connect with students remotely. Through the program, I easily engaged with participants, learning about their interests and aspirations, and taught them web development.

8th Light has a long tradition of cultivating a culture of continual learning. In fact, education is one of our strongest held values — believing through knowledge sharing, we build better software products, better partnerships, and maybe even a better industry. Since my 8th Light apprenticeship, embracing mentorship and learning has been a driver in my professional career.

For four months, I worked closely with two members of the Code Nation team, who made my volunteering experience enriching, welcoming, and inclusive. They involved me in classroom activities, such as icebreakers, ensuring I felt like part of the class despite the virtual setting, and encouraged me to share my real-life experiences from the tech industry.

Empowering the Next Generation of Software Coders

Working with the students at Lindblom High School was a remarkable experience! The students were incredibly interested in the tech industry, asking insightful questions about my role at 8th Light and what skills they needed to secure a job in tech. It was truly inspiring to meet young students who already have a clear vision of their career paths.

As a volunteer mentor, I was responsible for helping students reinforce their daily web development lessons through one-on-one mentoring. We focused on more than just the technical concepts of web development, covering practical skills they would need in the industry, such as effective collaboration — a skill I began honing early on during my apprenticeship at 8th Light. The students worked on a range of exciting projects, from clones of existing websites to their very own video games. This allowed them to reinforce the web development concepts they learned while also exploring their creative abilities.

Whether it was explaining technical concepts like functions and CSS selectors or sharing my experiences and guidance on breaking into the tech industry, mentoring these students was incredibly rewarding. Knowing that I could contribute to their journey filled me with a sense of fulfillment.

Inspired Through Mentorship

Looking back, my time with Code Nation and Lindblom High School was more than a mere volunteering opportunity — it was a journey of learning, growth, and inspiration that went beyond the boundaries of traditional classrooms. Being part of their growth and witnessing their enthusiasm, even in a virtual setting, has been an experience I will cherish.

About Code Nation

Code Nation is a national organization bridging the digital divide and creating new opportunities for students in STEM through education and empowerment. Throughout the United States, Code Nation connects students in under-resourced high schools with professionals working in technology who give them guidance and support.

Sunny Patel

Software Crafter

Sunny Patel is a software professional with a background in finance who is passionate about working with teams to build projects that add direct value to users.