Signal Welcomes Young Coders

October 13, 2014

Recently Signal received two young visitors from Chicago’s Catherine Cook School: Alessandro and Alexander, who are both eighth-graders with a passion for coding.

Kids learning with Brian

Alexander and Alessandro served as our interns for the morning. They had decided to spend the day at Signal because they wanted to see what a job in coding is actually like. “I knew people coded for work, but I didn’t know in what way, and how that would help companies,” said Alexander.

Alessandro was surprised to see so many people at the office. “I thought it would be an empty building, and everyone would be working at home,” he said. “Because you don’t need to be next to each other to code. But you might work better next to each other.”

The boys have taught themselves most of what they know about code, and are working on a few projects involving artificial intelligence. “I’ll go to the reference wikis, script libraries, and help pages to try to figure out the logic of how it works,” explains Alessandro. “Then I’ll try to make new stuff, and pick out new things I want to try from the libraries.”  Both kids like to code in Java, JavaScript, and a little C++.

Kids learning from Andy

The kids got exposure to different parts of Signal’s organization, including operations, reporting, and marketing. “We walked around and met people,” said Alexander. “Andy showed us how to make graphs out of data, and Rich talked to us about what he does in his job [as an ops engineer].”

“Brian showed us how we could code in Javascript for physical action, using Leap Motion. If you made a physical motion, it would make a noise,” explained Alessandro.

One of the day’s highlights was decidedly low-tech. “Our visit to The Doughnut Vault was pretty fun,” said Alessandro. “I had an Apple Fritter; Alexander had one too.”

Doughnut Vault

And what did they think of our culture here at Signal?

Alessandro was struck by Signalites’ penchant for kitschy art, including pictures of felines. “There’s a shark on the wall and Mr. T by the sink. It also looks like you get a lot of work done here because of the goofiness–it builds up strength and speed to get things done,” he said.

“I thought it was a really cool place to work. I didn’t know that you did so many different things, and that all the teams have to work together to get things done,” said Alexander. “And I think you guys like cats.”

Photos by David Michaels and Mike Sands.

Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Signal, and the editor of Signal's blogs. She worked previously at the University of Chicago, Rackspace, and NPR.

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