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Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs: Should You Do It?

If you are a female or nonbinary high school student who is looking to learn more about computer science, it may feel daunting to enter into a male-dominated field. However, luckily, there are resources out there that address the gender gap in CS, and one notable example that sticks out is the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs. From classes, and connections, to coding opportunities, there are so many advantages to participating in SIP – but is it the right program for you?


Keep reading to learn about the details of the program and to determine whether you would like to apply!


What are the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs?

The Summer Immersion Program (SIP) is run by the Girls Who Code, an organization with a mission to help girls around the world to close the gender gap in the computer sciences and tech jobs. As part of their mission, SIP is an opportunity for young girls to learn about this field while also making meaningful connections in the industry.


While SIP mostly refers to the 2-week virtual program, there is a 6-week self-paced option for students to complete projects on their own time.


Who is eligible?

For SIP, high school students who identify as a girl or nonbinary individual may apply if they are in grades 9 to 11. For the self-paced program, the eligibility also extends to current seniors as well, so any girl or nonbinary student in high school may apply for this option.


What are the application requirements?

The general application will be due in mid-to-late March, but you can apply for the early application cohort by mid-February.


The application will be available online. After you verify your account, you will be directed to the GWC application homepage in which you will need to confirm your eligibility and enter applicant details. The eligibility criteria will depend on your country of residence, dates of availability, notice of commitment, and whether you have other summer commitments. Once you confirm that you are eligible, you can input important information like your home address, DOB, school details, and such.


Unlike other summer programs, SIP will not ask for GPA, transcripts, or letters of recommendation, so the application will be easy to fill out and not take a lot of time to complete.


How competitive is the program?

Unfortunately, statistics on acceptance rates or the number of applications cannot be found. While the committee does conduct a selective process to review candidates, it does appear that they want to accommodate as many applicants as possible and they emphasize that those who apply do not need to have prior coding experience.


How much does the program cost?

SIP is completely free to apply and attend for everyone, so there are no costs to this program. In fact, there is an optional portion of the application that you can complete if you need financial assistance.


Pros

1. SIP offers exciting coding opportunities.

If you wanted to code a website, an app, or a video game, but didn’t know how SIP provides an informative yet fun introduction to creating your own CS project. From the past projects these girls have made, you can create a cybersecurity chatbot that protects people’s passwords, or a wearable device that can help women send their locations when they feel unsafe, or anything you’re passionate about! Through the courses that GWC provides, you can pursue a project that you are passionate about and make steps toward changing the world through technology.


2. SIP is connected to many top-level and important sponsors.

GWC has many prominent supporters who also share in the organization’s goals. According to their partners' list, GWC has made significant partnerships with banks (like Bank of America and Wells Fargo), tech companies (like Microsoft, Logitech, and Apple), and even philanthropic organizations (like MetLife Foundation). Therefore, partner-sponsored events are part of SIP’s programming, and GWC promises participants that they can meet mentors who are industry experts from leading companies. This presents SIP participants with a valuable opportunity to learn from and talk to individuals who work at these top firms or organizations.


3. SIP is flexible.

The virtual nature of SIP’s programming means that you have the luxury of tuning in to the live courses wherever you are – which speaks to the global reach of GWC. In addition, while you can only attend one program for the summer, you have the option to apply to either or both the SIP 2-week program or the self-paced 6-week program. If you’re looking for an engaging and educational opportunity while learning in the comfort of your home, the SIP program may be the best fit for you!


4. SIP is a great introduction to CS concepts if you are a beginner.

The curriculum of SIP promises to tailor to the needs of beginner and intermediate learners in CS, and it covers a broad range of topics. From UX design basics to interactive design, and even game design, girls who may need to find their footing within the tech industry can get a great start. Throughout the process, you will receive constructive feedback from your classmates and get to improve upon your work as the program progresses, and there will be office hours for you to ask questions if you feel lost. Not only is the curriculum helpful, but also SIP provides a sufficient support system for its participants.


5. SIP is free, and financial assistance can be provided if needed.

The best part about the process is that the program is entirely free – there is no cost to submit your application and no cost to attend classes. On the application form, you can indicate whether you need a need-based grant and describe your circumstances, which only takes 10-15 minutes to fill out. The committee determines whether you are eligible for the SIP Student Grant, which is a grant of $300 for qualified US-based students. The program offers equipment support for girls who need adequate access to technology as well.


Cons

1. SIP is virtual.

As the world is recovering from a pandemic and meeting face-to-face becomes normal once more, you may be tired of online meetings altogether. Although one of the strengths of SIP is that its virtual nature allows for flexibility, some students may simply prefer to meet at a physical location and meet with mentors and peers in person. If you find yourself to be one of these people, you may consider applying for residential summer programs instead, especially if you’re a junior who is looking into college.


2. SIP focuses on beginner to intermediate levels.

If you are a girl who already has had an introduction to CS and wants to learn more complex concepts, then SIP may not be not for you, although the program does allow anyone of any CS level to apply. While this does not necessarily mean that SIP’s curriculum may be too simple or too familiar for you, it may not be as engaging as someois less experienced. You may want to look into taking college-level courses or finding research opportunities instead.


3. SIP’s timing may not be comfortable, especially if you’re an international student.

Although students worldwide are invited to apply for SIP, you may need to check whether or not you’ll be comfortable with the times you will need to be awake and engaged. It is recommended that you check with the website to find out which time zone you need to convert from. For example, if you are a student in New Delhi, India, SIP’s live classes will run from 1 PM BST to 6 PM BST, which will be from 5:30 PM IST to 10:30 PM IST. Depending on your preference, you may dislike having to take classes relatively late in the evening, especially if you get easily tired when it turns dark.


Final Thoughts

Overall, Girls Who Code is a wonderful opportunity for high school girls to enter the tech field and start their journey to become skilled in CS. While the overall assessment of SIP is very positive, it may not be for everyone, so make sure to check all the details until you’re certain that SIP is a good fit for your summer commitment. Get coding!


If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 


The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas. The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 


The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.


You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship.


In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 


Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!


Additionally, you can also work on independent research in AI, through Veritas AI's Fellowship Program!


Veritas AI focuses on providing high school students who are passionate about the field of AI a suitable environment to explore their interests. The programs include collaborative learning, project development, and 1-on-1 mentorship. 


These programs are designed and run by Harvard graduate students and alumni and you can expect a great, fulfilling educational experience. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Python or are recommended to complete the AI scholars program before pursuing the fellowship. 


The AI Fellowship program will have students pursue their own independent AI research project. Students work on their own individual research projects over a period of 12-15 weeks and can opt to combine AI with any other field of interest. In the past, students have worked on research papers in the field of AI & medicine, AI & finance, AI & environmental science, AI & education, and more! You can find examples of previous projects here


Location: Virtual

Cost

  • $1,790 for the 10-week AI Scholars program

  • $4,900 for the 12-15 week AI Fellowship 

  • $4,700 for both

  • Need-based financial aid is available. You can apply here

Application deadline: On a rolling basis. Applications for fall cohort have closed September 3, 2023. 

Program dates: Various according to the cohort

Program selectivity: Moderately selective

Eligibility: Ambitious high school students located anywhere in the world. AI Fellowship applicants should either have completed the AI Scholars program or exhibit past experience with AI concepts or Python.

Application Requirements: Online application form, answers to a few questions pertaining to the students background & coding experience, math courses, and areas of interest. 


Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are considering other opportunities besides SIP, you could consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students to connect with researchers from prestigious universities. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.



Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. In her spare time, she likes to create digital art while listening to music.

Image source: Girls Who Code logo

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