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Photos by Mike Kane, Microsoft
Learning & Development Day at Microsoft Headquarters was cool. How cool? Here are City Year Seattle’s Top 5 Moments.

By Renn Gutierrez, City Year Seattle corps member at Highland Park Elementary School

On January 31st, 2014, City Year Seattle/King County was honored to have our annual Learning & Development Day hosted by Microsoft at the Microsoft Headquarters Visitor Center in Seattle, Washington. The entire day was filled with excitement, inspiration, and some serious hands-on tech time. Check out the top moments from our memorable day.

1. The Career Panel with Microsoft Leaders

City Year Seattle was able to listen to a panel of diverse and successful leaders from across all departments at Microsoft.  We heard from Kevin Wang, Jane Broom, Mike Egan, and Lori Harnick.  Their experience ranges from working as former software engineers to serving as the Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft.  It was fascinating to look inside some of the different departments that exist in such a large corporation like Microsoft.  The speakers emphasized the importance of needing a diverse set of skills to run a company like Microsoft. They focused their time discussing Microsoft’s goals of getting more inner city youth—like the students City Year corps members serve– involved with science, technology, engineering and math.

2.  YouthSpark!

Microsoft just launched a new program called YouthSpark! YouthSpark! provides technological resources for children and young adults all over the world.  We heard inspirational stories about a 14-year-old in Germany who used YouthSpark!’s resources and learned how to make mobile apps. We also heard of a young man in rural India who, through YouthSpark!’s resources, learned how to fix mobile phones, which made him a huge success in his village.

3.  Collaboration Time

Collaboration between corps members has become a mainstay of our weekly Learning & Development days, and this L&D day was no different. Microsoft provided us with ample amount of space and whiteboards, which allowed corps members who tutor students in a certain grade level to collaborate on lesson plans and best practices from all of the different schools where we serve.  It’s truly invaluable time for us to learn from one another, but doing it in an unfamiliar space motivated us to come up with new and exciting tactics.

4. Happy Hour of Code


Kevin Wang, a former software engineer turned founder of the Technology Education And Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, led us in an introductory crash course in computer programming. The TEALS program takes software engineers from Microsoft and sends them out to local and national high schools to teach introductory courses in Computer Science.  The program is a response to the need for computer programmers in an ever-growing business world which relies on computer programming to function. Our corps members dove right in, and under Mr. Wang’s incredible instruction, we were able to create a few circles and squares with a basic coding program, and we were provided with resources to introduce computer programming to our students!

5. Amazing Hospitality

We cannot express our thanks and gratitude enough to the folks over at Microsoft. The day that they planned for us was informative, inspiring and just plain fun. And it will definitely be a day we remember for quite some time. Thanks so much Microsoft!

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