Tomorrow’s coders and developers are starting young, and what they create will determine what the future looks like, not just in advertising. UA Little Rock’s Girls Code Camp introduces rising 8th and 9th grade students to computer and information science, as well as web design. The annual camp provides hands-on experience and seminars featuring female professionals. Participants also get a glimpse of college life while staying in UA Little Rock’s on-campus housing.
Earlier this summer, the camp visited CJRW’s downtown Little Rock office for an agency tour and creative adventure. During their visit, Associate Creative Director Nancy Ferrara challenged students to develop a brand identity for a new social media app exclusively for pet owners. Students came up with an app name, logo and functionality. Afterwards, they toured the different departments within the agency to talk about how they would market their new app.
Interactive Developer Elizabeth Polk has been the Web Development and Design Course Instructor at the camp since it started six years ago. Polk teaches participants how to develop a basic website, set and attain realistic project goals, and know what to expect from a career in coding. “I continue to teach at this camp because I was their age when I started developing websites myself. I try to show them that I started at their age, had the same struggles getting started that they do, and I still made it to where I am today. I want to show them that this is possible. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Polk.
Senior Digital Strategist Kaylee Leitch also participates annually in the camp as a digital media speaker. Leitch asked students to create a digital advertising strategy and design ads to encourage people to download their fictional app. “I participate because there is often a disconnect between institutions of formal education and the requirements and expectations of working day to day in the advertising industry. I enjoy speaking to students because I want to help bridge the gap, so that young people entering the workforce can do so with the confidence that they are prepared,” Leitch stated.
The Girls Code Camp fosters a safe and inclusive environment to give young students the confidence and drive to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). The involvement and dedication of successful professionals like Elizabeth Polk and Kaylee Leitch is indicative of how supportive and encouraging a career path in the field can be.
CJRW is proud of their work and the opportunity to be involved in such a trailblazing local program.