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ATLANTA,
11
August
2020
|
10:43 AM
America/Chicago

Amid Uncertainty, State Farm Helps Girls Forge a Code for Their Future

High school students write a new chapter in STEM.

It doesn’t matter where you start. What matters is where you finish.

Eighteen-year-old Miski Abdirizak knows the value of hard work. In the '90s her parents migrated to the United States, seeking refuge from Somalia.

“Dad was a gas station clerk, restocked grocery shelves and tutored. Mom went to school to get her associates degree in nursing. They did this while raising me, my three older sisters and gaining citizenship to the U.S,” Miski said.

“My parents taught us to aim for the stars. What might be out of reach really isn’t if you strive to achieve. It’s about problem solving and perseverance,” the State Farm® technology intern said of her family’s journey.

So when State Farm presented Miski with an opportunity to solve problems through STEM, she took it.

She applied and was accepted to Girls Who Code in 2018. During the seven-week summer program, she did everything from learning JavaScript, HTML and Python to building data clouds, graphs and websites.

Girls Who Code is building the largest pipeline of future female engineers. It is on track to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027.

State Farm became a Girls Who Code (GWC) sponsor in 2017. It offers the free summer immersion program to students at its Park Center campus in Atlanta.

“We’ve had nearly 100 Girls Who Code graduates since coming on board,” said State Farm GWC lead Katrina Torres. “Nearly half of our girls come from historically underrepresented groups. Many are Black, Latina or from low-income households and don’t have access to technology or the ability to take IT courses."

"Receiving messages from past graduates on their personal achievements or acceptance to a college computer science program is motivating. But even more exciting is when graduates' technical skillsets enable them to compete for a spot in our highly competitive technology intern program.”

When COVID-19 prevented in-person learning this year, State Farm pivoted GWC to a virtual summer immersion program. That allowed the program to expand its reach beyond Atlanta to girls across the country.

Committed to serving students amid challenging circumstances, it also honored job offers and internships. In May, State Farm welcomed nearly 450 college and high school interns. Only 4 percent of companies moved forward with internship programs.

“We knew it was important to continue the support of GWC in the wake of the pandemic. We understood the importance of providing these opportunities to all. Knowing tech jobs are the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., it’s critical to provide a foundation of computing skills for these young women,” Katrina said. “To alleviate technical glitches in a virtual environment, we purchased laptops and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for our 2020 class.”

While teaching girls to code is a large component of GWC, Miski says it’s more than that.

“I learned courage and empowerment. Each week we met a woman in tech and had designated mentors. Seeing women dominating in this field - women who looked like us and we could relate to - made me realize I can do this too. Being a minority in the field shouldn’t be a scary thing. It’s about having confidence to go for it.”

Watch out world!

Following her GWC graduation in 2018, Miski’s received three State Farm technology internships. Her responsibilities ranged from product suites, to data analysis, to scrum.

“I love working at State Farm,” she said. “It’s cutting-edge, it’s creating solutions and it’s about helping people. I’ve learned so much.”

This fall, she’ll begin her freshman year at Georgia State University. In 2017, State Farm pledged $20 million to support student education and bring GSU’s pioneering data analytics work to life.

“This program taught me to be brave and face challenges head on. Because when you make leaps in life – you soar higher.” - Miski

Here's what other participants had to say:

  • “I was part of Girls Who Code 2019. Had you not given me this laptop, I would not have been able to finish my classes or continue coding. Thanks to you I will be starting my first year at Georgia Tech. I am sincerely grateful.” – Princess
  • “I walked away from Girls Who Code with a new perspective on sisterhood, technology and a new set of friends. I hope you guys continue to touch the lives of girls like me. Thank you for everything.” – Holly
  • “My Girls Who Code experience gave me the opportunity to explore different areas of technology. I gained a network with other women interested in tech. Being at State Farm allowed me to envision myself working as a software engineer in the future. After GWC, I took an AP computer science class and graduated Salutatorian. I’ve been accepted to Georgia Tech to study computer science.” - Najma

 

To explore tech opportunities at State Farm, visit statefarm.com/careers.