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ImBlaze Monthly Newsletter: February 2020

Hello Educators, Mentors, and Learners!


Welcome to the ImBlaze monthly newsletter. Every month we’ll be updating you on the latest updates and improvements, and checking in with Co-founder and Director of Technology David Berg and lead engineer Soumya Basil.


This month was a big one, even if you can’t see it yet. Two Words: Regional Functionality.

Let’s get into it.


Quality of Life updates


- Quick Edit Opportunities - no matter what no matter when, the submit button will appear on every page.



- Faster Page Loads! Some of the underlying structural change we've been working on results in faster page loads, so you can spend more time on students and less time waiting.


- New Page Layout for IC's in the Opportunities page

- Reminder: Pairing functionality is live! When you open up the ‘details’ of any available opportunity will see a button next to ‘edit’ that allows you to pair a student with an opportunity.




Monthly Check-In With David Berg

David, when you think about the month of February in the ImBlaze world, what makes you excited?

Well, first of all, Beta for ImBlaze Regional went live this month, and I'm really looking forward to testing in the real world, getting it up and running in school districts and non profits. More tangibly, I’m super excited about the new opportunities for schools to begin to coordinate in larger communities to build more diverse, and more equitable communities of social capital.

Why was this such a big priority?

We have to be aware that schools using ImBlaze can be a victim of our own success. If they're growing bigger and bigger, inevitably they'll start competing with each other for student opportunities. We don’t want this to be an environment of scarcity. We want an opportunity rich approach.

Why?

Because it’s [scarcity] not true. For every kid in high school there’s 10 times the number of adults in the workforce. It’s not an unlimited resource, but it’s vastly underutilized.

The challenge isn’t one of resources, but of a cultural shift and uniformity around what it means to mentor.



Anything else you're excited about?

Most of the work I’m really excited about isn’t very glamorous. Not new functionality but making things better. Page load speeds, ability to customize what a user sees, things like that I’m really excited about. Improving the experience for our wonderful users.

Thanks, David.




Lead Engineer Soumya Basil

I know regional functionality is a big deal to David, what was your experience?

It was a major development change. Originally we thought internships and opportunities were just for a single school. Regional functionality asked us to imagine a different world. So from a business perspective this shift was interesting, but from a technical perspective it was challenging. We weren’t just adding something new, we were changing the basic architecture of the entire program. Of course, if you go to the system right now it might not be that different--in fact you likely won’t see anything at all. But in the underlying framework there’s been a lot of changes. Making sure we built it so it could exist and function without visible changes for users not using the functionality was... challenging, but also interesting.

Anything you’re particularly excited about in the months to come?

In the coming months we have a lot of things planned. Some of it is just steadying and improving user experience for all, but some of it is more exciting. Not to say too much but there may be something about an advisor mobile app.

Thanks Soumya!


Welcoming new ImBlaze team member Anthonette Peña!

Hi Anthonette - so happy to have you here. Would you mind sharing... who are you?

Ha! Well... I am a former middle school science teacher turned STEM education program teacher leader, all things equity and underrepresented groups, very focused on women in STEM. I was a Coding Girls Italy Super Coach. I’m a first generation high school grad, and a first generation college grad.

What excited you about joining this team?

Growing up there were a lot of opportunities I missed out on, even as a stereotypical ‘good student’ because I didn’t know i had them. The only people I had to talk to about my interests and passions and dreams were my teachers and my family, and my family scope was pretty limited because they didn’t graduate high school or college, and teachers… don’t always really know who you are as a person.

Do you think anything would have been different if your school had had a strong leaving to learn / internship program?

Well for one I probably would have stuck it out as an engineer. If I had a better network of people to tell me ‘yeah this is freaking hard but you gotta keep doing it. You’re a girl and we need more of you in the field, so you’re going to keep going. You can do this, you can become an engineer.’ I think that support and inspiration, from someone or someones who had really gone through it… I think that would have made all the difference. I hope that I can make it easy for teachers and staff to facilitate those kinds of opportunities for students.



That's all for this month. Leave to Learn!

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