Coding is something I’ve wanted to do, since I was a kid obsessed with computers. Earlier this year, I applied for Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program in New York. I promised myself to spend the summer learning programming languages, so my acceptance to the Girls Who Code program at AT&T was beyond exciting.

I had high expectations coming in – and the program surpassed all of them.

Over the past 5 weeks, my classmates and I covered everything. We learned programming languages, like Python and C++,  markup languages for web development, like HTML and CSS, and more. The day began with an issue—things like overcoming the gender gap in technology or how to handle a robot takeover—and writing down our thoughts in a journal. Then, it was on to lectures. At the end of the day, we had a chance to apply our newly-minted skills to projects like interactive games and dancing robots. 

We also got to go on amazing field trips.

Two of them stand out for me. The first was our visit to Chanel’s corporate headquarters. My classmates and I got to see exclusive designs months before their release and hear from female executives. 

The trip to the AT&T Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) was just as incredible, but in a different way.

Their impressive facility includes a colossal wall with more than 100 screens on it. They showed stats about practically everything related to the network, like the number of texts sent that day, weather reports and international news.

Perhaps the coolest part of the experience was when our guide displayed stats from certain events. He showed a decrease in calls on Christmas Day, but an increase in time spent on those calls. It brought the traffic moving across the network to life.

We also saw how cell phone use spikes after an earthquake in a pattern identical to tremor waves. And learned how AT&T gathers data on the average amount of calls, texts and web usage to detect cyberattacks.

Before joining Girls Who Code, I liked computers and enjoyed developing websites. Now, I understand computers and love to code everything—whether a website or a program. But it didn’t stop with technological advances for me.

I’ve also learned life skills. I now think to approach a problem from different perspectives to find a solution, and remember keep patient when faced with a challenge. Being a good coder is not only knowing the correct syntax, it’s about being a problem solver.

The experience even influenced my decision to major in computer science in college.

It goes beyond enjoying the subject this summer. Because of the many guest speakers who told me I can do anything with a computer science degree, I’m looking forward to a bright future.

Thanks to Girls Who Code and AT&T, I’ve learned so much. But most of all, I have 18 more friends whom I never would have met without the program.  Now, I’m ready to start my own journey in technology and make a difference in the world.     

As part of AT&T Aspire, AT&T has collaborated with Girls Who Code since 2014. Most recently, AT&T contributed $2 million to Girls Who Code to support the expansion of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and Clubs Program, and the launch of the Girls Who Code Alumni Network, which will help ensure that young female graduates of Girls Who Code programs have clear pathways to careers in the computing field. This summer AT&T is hosting Summer Immersion Programs in six cities across the country, including New York.

Brienna Carter participated in the 2016 Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program in New York.

Brienna Carter
Brienna Carter Girls Who Code