Becky Ball was a winner of the recent GenZ hackathon and was offered the opportunity to attend an amazing workshop run by none other than QuantumBlack. This is what she had to say about her experience:
An early start followed by travelling in London (with possibly some of the grumpiest people I have ever seen) was definitely not the highlight of my day. When I walked through Trafalgar Square in the morning sunlight and was welcomed into QB’s gorgeous reception and offices, I could not understand why no one seems excited to work in the city.
Immediately, I was in awe of this company: their smart but vibrant work spaces, the kind people I had been welcomed by and of course, the masses of food generously provided by them. This food wasn’t especially for us — one employee said to work there, you had to develop a skill in declining great food!
The day started with an ice breaker (that they use with actual clients) and introductions. To me, it was great to see a lot of the team leading the workshop were females — seeing truly qualified, successful women in influential roles is exactly the kind of positive reinforcement we often don’t get to see in schools or in the media.
Our first session was ideation. Though it seems obvious, we realised that the context of a problem is equally as important as the problem itself. For instance, we worked through a heart disease diagnosis in which the causes beforehand and the management after, are as crucial as the diagnosis itself.
The majority of the day focused on programming. We heard about the company’s development cycle and the tools they use — many of which are open source and so, available for us to use too. It was astounding to hear that the programming language I have learnt for a GCSE is used to solve huge problems in the real world, not just to reach the answer of an exam question. Also, I learnt some really simple functions available in Python that I was unaware of because they don’t fit a curriculum, despite being much more efficient and effective. Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely did not grasp all of the complex ideas they informed us of, but I was encouraged with every question and every attempt made.
Pizza-fuelled and re-energised following lunch, we were shown around the offices. Though rather empty due it almost being Good Friday, we got to see some teams working and understood how they complemented each other and collaborated which was particularly insightful as amongst us students, there were varying aspirations.
To draw the day to a close, we had a Q&A session. I would have to say that this was my favourite part as my intrigue had been building throughout the day. I found other students’ questions were just as interesting, as they had considered aspects that I had not necessarily noticed. In addition, it was a great way to see the diverse opinions from different roles in the team.
I count myself as exceptionally fortunate to have been offered this experience which I enjoyed so much — I was smiling like a Cheshire cat all the way home. For that reason, I would like to thank Teens In AI for the opportunity and support and QuantumBlack themselves for the day and the goodie box I went home with!
Written By Becky Ball
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Published By Euan Cortes