Girl Geek X Volunteers Share Career Advice With Oakland High School Students

Girl Geek X’s new partnership with Oakland Public Education Fund in adopting Coliseum College Prep Academy provides valuable experiences for the Girl Geek X volunteers to engage with the local school community.

On Friday, November 12, 2021, Girl Geek X community members volunteered to share career advice with 11th and 12th graders at CCPA in East Oakland, California.

Amazon Web Services Partnerships Developer Christina Zigliotto, Microsoft Senior Engineer Sneha Natekar, Girl Geek X Founder Angie Chang, Planet Labs Senior Systems Engineer Lisa Kristeena Johnson, and Afresh Director of Finance Cynthia Carpio spoke onstage about their careers and advice. Here are the top 3 tips:

#1 – Keep showing up.

Christina kicked things off by thanking the audience for showing up, and highlighted that showing up is an excellent first step. If you keep showing up and learning, you will be more prepared to receive fortuitous opportunities – with hard work and luck.

The Amazon and Microsoft employees nodded in agreement to Lisa’s advice to join a startup early in your career. Lisa talked about startups as a good place to gain work experience, then getting another job at a big tech company when you have more work experience on your resume.

Working at a big company may not be your first, second, third, or fourth job after college. Be prepared to work at different jobs in different industries and roles before you land at a brand-name company or distinguished role. Christina began her career in retail, and Cynthia in hospitality, before joining tech companies in non-technical roles.

#2 – Make connections!

Panelists spoke about the importance of making connections, from being an amiable colleague or schoolmate, to connecting with others on LinkedIn or via email.

Christina reminded students that their perspectives and stories are important and worth sharing. She encouraged students to come up to speakers after the panel to share or ask questions.

For the shy types, Sneha recommended Toastmasters for practicing speaking up.

#3 – Ask questions.

Lisa talked about the importance of people-skills in engineering satellites, and Cynthia spoke about getting over the fear of asking stupid questions – and Googling things you don’t understand.

CCPA Director of College Advising Shannon LeCompte moderated the panel for the 11th and 12th graders in the CCPA auditorium.

Special thank you to the 11th and 12th graders at CCPA for asking such amazing questions on the mic and offstage.

Thank you to Shelly Lopez at Oakland Public Education Fund for taking photos!

This partnership is facilitated by Oakland Public Education Fund, a non-profit connecting groups with schools to make a positive impact on school culture and student achievement through relevant and meaningful volunteer projects.

Girl Geek X Volunteers Support Public School Teachers for Back To School at CCPA in East Oakland

Education equity is an important issue for many San Francisco Bay Area residents during the pandemic. Girl Geek X’s new partnership with Oakland Public Education Fund in adopting CCPA (a secondary public school serving 600+ students grades 6-12 in East Oakland) provides valuable experiences for the Girl Geek X volunteers to engage with the local school community.

Preparing for back-to-school by supporting teachers in classrooms

Girl Geek X volunteers (masked and vaccinated) sanitized surfaces, refreshed bulletin boards, and lended a helping hand for teachers preparing for back-to-school on a sunny Friday afternoon. Volunteers got to meet like-minded people and felt positively about supporting the local schools and community.

“I recently moved to Oakland and want to be more involved with my community, especially helping students,” said Tricia Decker, a software engineer at Lyft. “As someone with a learning disability, I can understand how important it is to have an organized, comfortable learning environment. I was thrilled to work with a teacher settling into a new classroom by decluttering, cleaning, and decorating the space, giving students a fresh start this school year. I’m looking forward to future opportunities to volunteer via the Oakland Public Education Fund and make a positive impact on student success.”

Data expert Adelaide Chen connected with Hackbright alums Adamma Izuegbunam and Jessica McElroy about their careers while stapling new, colorful borders to freshly re-papered bulletin boards.

Adelaide Chen said, “I met amazing women who teach and run the school, on top of that, women software developers who were there to volunteer, that inspired me. It was an opportunity to give back to Oakland schools and Girl Geek X at the same time.”

Take an afternoon off to volunteer

Project manager Annie Chang took the afternoon off from her job at Color in Covid-19 operations to volunteer with Girl Geek X at CCPA, welcoming the break. The recent Covid-19 delta variant-fueled surge has quadrupled her workload in the last week. For balance, she practices and teaches yoga at Ohlone Park in Berkeley on Sundays.

Many tech companies are providing mental health days off and/or VTO (volunteer time off) to encourage employees to rest and recharge.

If your company would like to Adopt an Oakland school, please do encourage them to participate – it’s a great opportunity to gain leadership experience and visibility in the organization, as well as strengthen relationships within and/or across teams.

Volunteering with Girl Geek X ’21-’22 school year at CCPA

Future Girl Geek X volunteer opportunities at CCPA, a public secondary school serving students grades 6-12 in East Oakland, include career panels in the fall and spring, teacher appreciation in the spring, and more. Join the Girl Geek X mailing list to be first to hear about Girl Geek X events!

Vaccinated Girl Geek X volunteers put up new bulletin boards in classrooms in August for back to school preparations at the guidance of CCPA teachers. Andie Zhang / Oakland Public Education Fund

Girl Geek X volunteers Adelaide Chen and Adamma Izuegbunam refreshing bulletin boards in the hallways of CCPA in East Oakland. Andie Zhang / Oakland Public Education Fund

From refreshing bulletin boards to hand-lettering signs for the classroom, Girl Geek X community volunteers pitched in to lend a land to CCPA staff and teachers getting ready for school reopening. Andie Zhang / Oakland Public Education Fund

Here’s a group picture of the Girl Geek X volunteers before we split up to help teachers in their classrooms get ready for back-to-school on Friday, August 6, 2021. Andie Zhang / Oakland Public Education Fund

Girl Geek X Community is ADOPTING a public Oakland high school for the 2021-2022 school year!

We have ADOPTED a public Oakland school for the pandemic 2021-2022 school year, serving students grades 6-12.

Our goal is to support students at Coliseum College Prep Academy in Oakland, California serving grades 6-12 with a computer science pathway, by providing access to role models from the professional community for these students. 

CCPA has the highest college-going rate in the district despite being located in one of Oakland’s highest poverty neighborhoods. 

If your employer wants to Adopt an Oakland School for the upcoming school year, please direct them to Lilly Smith at lilly@oaklandfund.org.

Girl Geek X CCPA Volunteering Year in Review:

Thank you to our volunteers for August 2021 BACK-TO-SCHOOL support of CCPA teachers in East Oakland. Here’s a group pic we remembered to snag before we spent the afternoon helping teachers prepare their classrooms and hallways for back-to-school reopening! (Read more)

Thank you to our volunteers for November 2021 CAREER PANEL for CCPA students! Volunteers shared invaluable career advice with 11th and 12th graders about showing up, making connections, and more. (Read more)

Thank you to our volunteers for December 2021 support of CCPA senior capstone projects in Oakland. (Read more)

senior capstones april

Thank you to our volunteers on April 26, 2022 who attended Day 1 of Senior Capstone Project Presentations. (Read more)

ccpa april girl geek x volunteers

Thank you to our volunteers on April 27, 2022 who attended Day 2 of Senior Capstone Project Presentations. (Read more)

girl geek x ccpa teacher appreciation may anthonys cookies

May 11, 2022 Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at Coliseum College Prep Academy in East Oakland with Anthony’s Cookies and Girl Geek X goodie bags. (More pictures)

This partnership is facilitated by Oakland Public Education Fund, a non-profit connecting groups with schools to make a positive impact on school culture and student achievement through relevant and meaningful volunteer projects.

  1. August 6, 2021 (1pm-4pm): BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPORT
    Girl Geek X volunteers helped school staff prepare for reopening by redoing bulletin boards, arranging classrooms, etc.
  2. November 12, 2021 (10am-12pm): CAREER PANEL
    Girl Geek X volunteers from Amazon, Microsoft, Planet, and Afresh spoke about careers in tech during 11th and 12th grade seminar.
  3. December 15, 2021 (4:30pm-6pm): VOLUNTEERS GIVE STUDENTS FEEDBACK ON SENIOR CAPSTONE PROJECTS
    Students shared around the websites and apps that they’re building, and gathered feedback from Girl Geek X volunteers, who encouraged their ideas.
  4. Friday, March 25, 2022 (10:30am-12noon): HIGH SCHOOL SUMMER PROGRAMS & JOB FAIR
    Introduce students to your opportunities this summer!
    Can’t attend on March 25 but have summer internships or programs? Please share them with the school’s career services director via this Google Form so she can direct students to your opportunities – thank you!
  5. Tuesday or Wednesday, April 26-27, 2022 (4pm-6pm): SENIOR PROJECT PRESENTATION
    The school would like to invite as many volunteers that are interested in attending and providing feedback. The students voiced that they enjoyed having professional feedback and this is the perfect opportunity! Give crucial feedback on students’ Senior Capstones  (apps that address a need in the community).
  6. Wednesday, May 11, 2022: TEACHER APPRECIATION
    Girl Geek X is buying lunch for educators to say thank you for all that they do. We also assembled goodie bags for the educators, with supplies for the classroom and self care.

Girl Geek X volunteers must PRE-REGISTER WITH OAKLAND PUBLIC EDUCATION FUND for each volunteer activity and provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

  1. In the “More About You” section, it says “Choose the Option that Best Describes You”. Volunteers should select “Adopt an Oakland School Partner“.
  2. Once you click that, another question pops up asking “Where do you work / where are you affiliated?”. Volunteers should write “Girl Geek X
  3. Look out for an e-signature email (subject line “Verify: Signed Response for Form “One-Time Volunteer Registration”) and you have to sign that form as Covid-19 liability waiver.