One Team, One Community

At Qualtrics, we are one team. This means we collaborate. We teach. We mentor. We learn from one another. When the team wins, we all win, so we’re invested in the growth of our teammates.

This philosophy doesn’t stop at the office door. We also strive to be one team with the community around us. In one of our latest efforts, six of our engineers and a UX researcher joined forces with ChickTech, a Seattle-based organization committed to retaining and supporting women in technology, to invest in our community of young programmers. On Saturday, March 11, we hosted a JavaScript workshop for nine high school girls from the Seattle area.

ChickTech JavaScript Workshop Group Photo

The Qualtrics, ChickTech volunteers and workshop participants in the Seattle Qualtrics office.

To start, we introduced JavaScript as the language of the Web, one of the most versatile and necessary languages to know in the software industry. Using the Qualtrics platform as an example, we discussed how JavaScript interprets your interactions with a website and triggers appropriate responses. Customized welcome messages, text-box inputs, and buttons all use JavaScript. We also talked about how we use JavaScript at Qualtrics to build data visualizations, provide pop-up satisfaction surveys for clients to add to their websites, serve our code to client browsers, and more.

Presenting Examples of JavaScript in Qualtrics Platform

Qualtrics engineers point out parts of the Qualtrics platform that use JavaScript and how the interactions enabled by JavaScript enhance the user experience.

The girls came in with different levels of coding experience so we presented three projects with varying levels of difficulty. The most advanced project, pulled from Raspberry Pi’s learning resources, walked the girls through building a cat meme generator app using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They learned how to code in a text editor, program in pairs, and add custom styling to create an interactive web application.

Raspberry Pi Meme Generator Demo

Two workshop participants present the meme-generator app they built with help from Raspberry Pi’s learning resources and Qualtrics engineers.

Another project from Khan Academy exposed the girls to the concepts of JavaScript functions and parameters by providing a blank canvas and some shape-drawing functions. The girls used the functions to fill the canvas with drawings of their favorite animals. This entailed experimenting with parameters, like predicting what would happen to a shape’s dimensions if they provided a negative number, and using documentation to build some complex designs, like a fox’s bushy tail.

Khan Academy Animal Drawing Project Group Working

A group of ChickTech participants and volunteers build images of their favorite animals using the shape-drawing functions and coding environment from the Khan Academy project.

Not everyone jumped straight into JavaScript, however. The last project from Code Studio focused on the problem-solving aspect of programming in the context of a Star Wars game. By specifying how sidekick droid R2-D2 should respond to the locations of various nefarious characters and helpful heroes, the girls learned about event-handling and conditional logic. At first, the logic blocks used to specify conditions and actions were labelled in plain English with dropdown menus to fill parameters. But beyond a certain level, the sentences were replaced by JavaScript function names, taking the programmers a step closer to writing full-fledged code.

Star Wars Code Studio Project Screenshot

A sample level in the Star Wars game hosted by Code Studio. This was one of the projects the girls could choose to work on at the JavaScript workshop. Source:

This project in particular demonstrated the value of mentoring by meeting teammates where they are and starting from that common ground. One of the attendees in particular felt intimidated by the logic and math in the programming projects, but enjoyed herself more after approaching the problem like a puzzle instead. Perhaps in the future she’ll feel interested in trying some more involved coding projects. But even if she doesn’t, she was able to try it out and see for herself, thanks to this and other ChickTech workshops.

 A sample level in the Star Wars game hosted by Code Studio. This was one of the projects the girls could choose to work on at the JavaScript workshop. Source:

Two ChickTech participants engage in a heated game of ping-pong during some downtime in the Qualtrics office before the JavaScript workshop.

Throughout the day, we talked with the girls about their experiences pursuing an interest in tech. We heard from sophomores who had to wait until they were seniors to take a programming class at their school. We heard a common desire to work on more side projects and participate in more ChickTech workshops. And almost universally, we heard a wish that they could have started coding earlier. At the start of the workshop, the Qualtrics engineers shared how they got into computer science and, more importantly, how it isn’t always smooth sailing. In a field with so much to learn, it’s easy to feel behind and overwhelmed. We hoped to show that they weren’t alone in feeling that way.

One of the biggest takeaways for the mentors was going back to square one and recalling the start of our careers. Engineers work with a lot of technical jargon and terminology and being able to filter that down to an appropriate level for coding beginners was a challenge, but a very important one. It tested our understanding of the basics and our ability to teach each other. Part of being a good engineer is being comfortable translating ideas for others, regardless of their level of technical experience. This aspect of mentoring shapes the way we approach everyday interactions. It’s how we grow our biggest asset: our team.

We’d like to give a huge thank you to Aparna Kumar from Qualtrics and the volunteers at ChickTech for organizing this event. If you’re interested in learning more or volunteering your time or resources with ChickTech, visit

Erin Leonhard
Erin works as a full-stack software engineer at Qualtrics on a data analysis product called Statwing that's making statistical analysis accessible to anyone, even without a math background. She graduated from Indiana University in May 2016 with a degree in Computer Science and has been living in Seattle ever since. Outside of work, she plays recreational soccer, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball in various leagues around Seattle and enjoys playing piano, reading the news, and drinking coffee in her free time.

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