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CMS students learn coding first-hand from LinkedIn engineers

On April 12, 2019, Columbia Middle School students were invited to LinkedIn in Sunnyvale for a Coding Dojo session where they got to design their own website and game and have lunch on campus. The opportunity was through a partnership with Sunnyvale’s NOVA Job Center. Typically NOVA brings in high school and college students, but this was the first time a middle school was invited to participate!

In June 2017, LinkedIn awarded NOVA a grant to support the NOVA youth program. This award represents one of several grants that LinkedIn has awarded NOVA over the past several years to prepare youth in this community for careers in a technology-driven economy. LinkedIn has been actively engaged with the NOVA youth program hosting a variety of events for youth at its Sunnyvale campus.

Nearly 30 students from CMS’s advanced robotics, 3D Design, and advanced math classes participated in this special session.

Madhuri Desu,  Senior Program Manager at LinkedIn, said this time they wanted to do something different.

“Usually, we mentor high school and college-age students,” Desu said. “I feel like we are giving this opportunity to the students who feel like they aren’t sure whether they want to be in tech or not so this will give them a glimpse into what they can do. This is more for them to be exposed to real-world tech like Python and Java and learn what we do and my hope is if even a few students come back and say hey I want to learn more, that’s a win.”

Cathy Haynes, Youth Program Manager at Nova, said it was a wonderful opportunity for the students to see what it’s like to work for a company like LinkedIn.

“Once they get inside here and see everyone is normal and that this cool, they might think, “I could see myself here,” so we’re giving them a vision for the future.”

Students shared their feedback from the opportunity.


“All the people were really nice and helpful. The way they taught made the material easy to understand and learn. I really enjoyed it and would like to do it again.”


“I really enjoyed everybody’s patience in helping us understand the process as it was difficult for me and my friend due to the fact that we were coding for the first time.”


“During my time at LinkedIn, I learned new concepts and basics of coding. The employees who helped us were very friendly and made my experience fun and enjoyable”


“I enjoyed coding on the Mac-Books and the free gifts were awesome. I wish we had more time doing some of the coding like for the website because we only got as far as to code the top bar of the page. The food you guys provided was amazing and helped benefit our coding. If I could, I would go again and try to take down as many notes as I can. Thank you for the experience.”

Article written by District Communications Coordinator Alia Wilson with contributions by CMS teacher Alexi Badaoui.

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