Written by volunteer writer Amy Freeman
Over the course of four Wednesdays last fall, members of the Chatham Financial Technology Team in Kennett Square created a unique experience for the middle-school-aged girls who attended the company’s HTML/CSS workshops. By taking a very hands-on approach to instruction, the Chatham team was able to create a one-on-one mentor and mentee environment. The girls who attended the workshops formed bonds and relationships with the volunteer mentors from the Tech Team.
Everyone, both mentors and mentees, came to the workshops from different backgrounds. Some of the mentors had previous experience with HTML/CSS, while others did not. The mentors were a mix of software developers, testers, designers, and project managers. Even though everyone who volunteered as a mentor works with tech daily, a few of them were learning the topic along with the girls during the workshops.
The girls who attended the workshops had different levels of experience and interest. Some had participated in a computer or HTML/CSS class in the past and many had not. Pooja Hegde, Chatham Financial’s Chief Technology Officer, noted that “Before the first session, we were prepared to have girls with all different levels of experience and interest attend the workshops.”
The mentors were pleasantly surprised by how quickly the girls embraced the workshops. “Even those who had no computer or coding knowledge, and a few who didn’t have much initial interest, seemed to thrive with their mentors and have a great time creating their websites. We learned that the girls were up for being challenged and had fun coding — they are amazing.” Pooja said.
Similar to the girls, the mentors also got a lot out of the workshops. Krista Williams, a member of the Tech Team and one of the mentors said, “All of the Chatham mentors truly enjoyed interacting with the girls, and left each session energized seeing how excited the girls got when they saw their code rendered on the web.”
Since many of the mentors were familiar with HTML/CSS, they were able to inform the curriculum and create additional exercises, which helped to make the workshops more relevant and impactful for the girls.
Asked what advice she’d give to someone who was going to teach the same workshop, Krista highlights the importance of meeting the girls where they are, making adjustments as needed and guiding the girls to find the answer rather than handing an answer to them, while still making the experience interactive and fun.
About Chatham Financial
Chatham Financial is the largest independent financial risk management advisory and technology firm. A leader in debt and derivative solutions, Chatham provides clients with access to in-depth knowledge, innovative tools, and an incomparable team of nearly 700 employees to help mitigate risks associated with interest rate, foreign currency, and commodity exposures. Founded in 1991, Chatham serves more than 3,000 companies across a wide range of industries — handling over $700 billion in transaction volume annually and helping businesses maximize their value in the capital markets, every day. To learn more, visit chathamfinancial.com.