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Student Visits at Etsy HQ

Oct 17, 2013

by Bernadette Sweeney

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

At Etsy, it’s important for us to support the communities we work with both online and in real life. As Chad mentioned in his blog post, one of the (many) reasons we became a certified B Corp is because we want to make the world more like Etsy: a world based on community, shared success, commitment to sustainable operations, and using the power of business for a higher purpose.

Over the past few months, groups of students have come in for tours of Etsy’s headquarters followed by Q&As about engineering as a career, and the discussions were nothing short of inspiring.

 

 The New York Urban League

Students from The New York Urban League visited Etsy and spent time with some of our engineers who talked about what they do at Etsy.  The engineers offered career advice and talked about the importance of studying and getting a good education.

According to Tiana McFarlane, the Director of Education and Technology at the New York Urban League,  “We believe it’s important for our students to visit companies so they can be exposed to professionals in various fields, which provides them an opportunity to engage with individuals from different backgrounds who have had various educational and career paths that led to where they are today. One of our goals as an organization is to provide college and career readiness opportunities so our students are more successful in preparing for and embarking on the journey to college and beyond. Visits to companies like Etsy pique students’ interest in multiple ways and showcase firsthand that you can follow your passion to a future career and have great success.”

etsy_student_tour_2

When asked to give advice to the students who are preparing to enter high school, Etsy Product Quality Manager Bernard Desert told the students, “Sometimes you don’t know how things will turn out so you should take opportunities as they arise and see what happens. Keep in mind a good education is helpful in no matter what you do.”

When asked what inspired him to become an engineer, Engineering Manager Ryan Young told the students, “I went to a summer camp as a kid and took an introductory class on programming where I made a small game.  I think it was the first time I’d really created something myself, without any rules or script to follow, and the experience was exhilarating.  I haven’t stopped learning since!”

After the visit, Ms. McFarlane told us, “The students truly enjoyed their trip to Etsy. They thought it was cool, innovative and fun. They liked the open office space and they liked the unique workspaces. But most of all, they learned a lot from the engineers who inspired them to focus on becoming the next generation of developers.”

 

The Artemis Project

We also had students visit us from Columbia University’s Artemis Project.  The Artemis program targets rising high school girls at the critical age when the disparity between males and females in the sciences becomes most pronounced. The program aims to introduce students to the creative thinking and problem-solving skills that are at the core of computer science in hopes that it will later inspire them to take STEM-related classes or pursue computer science in their high school and college careers.

According to Yanrong Wo, Program Coordinator for the Artemis Project, field trips are a great way for the girls to learn about the working conditions in technology companies, and many students come to the realization that the stereotypes surrounding programmers are not true.

The students found Etsy to be a very unique company in terms of the working environment. In a following survey of our Etsy field trip, one student said Etsy “taught us how girls can still strive in Computer Science, despite there being few women in the industry.”

When asked why she volunteered to speak to these students, Engineer Gabrielle Gianelli said she is interested in supporting gender equality and encouraged the students not to buy into stereotypes about what engineers need to be like.

Similarly, Engineer Fiona Condon felt the engineers were able to be honest with the students about the challenges of being a woman in computing without giving the false impression that it’s not worthwhile.  She told the students it’s fundamentally a great experience. When asked to give the students some career advice, Fiona encouraged the students to “think about what you’d like to do in terms of the tasks you enjoy and the changes you’d like to bring about in the world, and use those as guideposts for finding the right career.”

We were inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of the students and we wish them and all students out there the best of luck in this new school year.  Study hard and don’t forget to do your homework!

Interested in a tour?  Email etsytours@etsy.com.

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