The Ada Volunteer Community is made up of industry professionals, Ada Alums, and critical community members who bring their expertise to various roles that contribute directly to student success. Through the mantra “lift as they climb,” volunteers exude a passion for helping the next generation of tech leaders navigate the murky waters of code, team politics, and knowing “what’s what” when getting started. Many Adies can spend four to five hours outside of class understanding new concepts and finishing coursework. The opportunity to connect one-on-one with a tutor or T.A. can be an invaluable experience during a student’s time at Ada. 

Meet some folks who make up this fantastic community giving more insights on what it means to volunteer with Adies. 

Meet Alec

Volunteer Tutor: 2 years, currently at Canvas

How did you hear about Ada?

I worked at Dropbox and had a friend who was volunteering at Ada and providing presentations on how to prepare for software engineer interviews. After enjoying doing the presentation, I joined up as a regular volunteer.

What’s been the best thing about volunteering at Ada?

How personal it is is really big for me. One of my students cried when we fixed something together. My last student, we never got to meet until the end of her program, but she brought me this huge gift basket, and she wrote me this really sweet letter I have up on my wall! The Director of Student Services specifically reached out to me at some point and said, “one of the students you were working with we were really worried about, and now they’re really thriving.” If I only did the work I do for Canvas, I wouldn’t get to feel the 1:1 motivation of what it feels like to help someone who needs it and wants it.

What’s one thing that has surprised you as a tutor at Ada?

There hasn’t been a lot that has been surprising because I am also a bootcamp grad. A lot of it is very familiar. The presentation I do about interviewing focuses on how the first job you get is going to be the hardest one you get. My favorite thing about Ada is that Ada can guarantee an internship, and how they do that partnership is really incredible and helps students get over that initial barrier, which is a big filter for a lot of people coming out of for-profit bootcamps. Even when you’re interviewing for the first time, having an internship is so much better than saying, “Hi, I just graduated from my program. I’ve been coding for six months. Please hire me.” It’s a bit of a hard sell, and I can understand why it’s difficult for many people. 

What would you say to prospective folks considering a place in tech?

I’m not going to say it’s not hard. But there is a very elitist mentality. Even among friends in college, they didn’t want to believe they had spent four years learning something I was going to learn in six months. It’s a false comparison. I’m not going to pretend that I have the same knowledge and theory as my friends with a degree. At this point, I’ve been in software for four years and haven’t needed it. I can go back and spend time learning it if I want to.

You don’t need to have that base interest in computers to be a software engineer. You don’t need to be someone who is tech-savvy; that comes in time.

Meet Sara

Volunteer Tutor: 3 years, currently at Automattic Inc.

How did you hear about Ada?

I heard about Ada through a coworker who was an Adie when I worked at

What’s been the best thing about volunteering at Ada?

To see students flourish! I love being a part of a student’s journey towards understanding software engineering and learning to think like a developer. It’s really cool to see someone “get it” and have those moments (especially as a tutor where you get to follow an individual student through their whole journey at Ada).

Why do you resonate with the mission at Ada?

I’m a college dropout, trans, Brazilian, and I have several mental health disabilities. Tech is horribly overrun by white people and especially white men who will do anything to hold onto their power in this world and in tech. Working in tech can feel extremely oppressive at times, even now when I work somewhere where my colleagues and I share many of our values. I love that Ada challenges that holding-onto-power by encouraging and making it possible for more diverse people to enter the tech field. There’s a long way to go to make tech equitable and anti-racist, but at least Ada is trying to address that from one angle, getting more diverse people into the field.

What would you say to prospective folks considering a place in tech?

Getting a job in tech will challenge your values every single day. It will take a tremendous amount of courage and responsibility to stick to your guns and do what’s right in an industry run by people dedicated to extracting every last bit of capital from this world. It can be terrifying on the inside but know that you have your community of Adies and other rad folks fighting to change how the industry works. Also, remember that your first job, second job, etc., will not be your last. Sometimes you have to take a job that you don’t align with to get somewhere where you can make a difference. This reality sucks, but for now, there’s no way around it; you just gotta stomach it, stick to your guns, and work hard to make your way out of the awful parts of tech and into the good parts.

Meet Matt

Volunteer TA: 2.5 years, currently at GoDaddy

How did you hear about Ada?

I learned about Ada because my former manager at Microsoft recommended the program to my wife, Amy. I got into TAing because a GoDaddy coworker (and C2 alum) said my wife was lucky to be “tech-adjacent” and that I should consider volunteering.

Why do you resonate with the mission at Ada?

There are three critical realizations that make Ada’s mission important to me.

First: When I graduated and started as a professional software engineer, I quickly realized that Computer Science and Software Engineering are different disciplines that require different skills. CS majors are bummed with how infrequently they get to use their skills after they graduate. Meanwhile, they have to learn a whole slew of technical and non-technical skills on the job. That underscores a set of broken expectations. I liken it to hiring physics PhDs to build rockets. They’re similar but different.

Secondly, when I volunteered to teach intro CS with TEALS at Renton High, the program leaders explained that we desperately need earlier and more CS education because the industry is doubling in size every five years! The existing pipeline is too thin, and high schools are scrambling to adapt. CS departments like my alma mater’s are expanding rapidly yet cannot meet the increasing demand for education. We do not have enough engineers to fill the open roles.

And lastly, when I worked on a Calendar app at Microsoft, I was struck by how we, fundamentally, we’re building that Calendar app foremost for ourselves. We centered a young, white, well-off, male, Seattle-based experience. Features other people consider core features like week numbers or non-Gregorian calendars always came second. It taught me that even if we think we’re trying, we don’t build software that is truly for people who aren’t in the room.

Ada addresses these three fundamental industry problems by bringing together people from backgrounds that are missing from tech, preparing them with skills specific to software engineering, and placing them in the jobs they prepared for. To me, Ada is about making my industry a place that I want to work.

What would you say to prospective folks considering a place in tech?

There’s a lot of fluff working in this industry; people will often ask you to spend mental energy in ways that turn out not to be important to you. Get crisp on your priorities, and say no to activities that don’t align. If that scares you, collaborate with your manager and industry mentor on an explicit list of priorities. Your next most important goal might be a level promo, advancing your mastery of a language, learning how to work with a new system, or some other work challenge. Whatever it is, keep it focused.

But make sure that your focus reflects the things that brought you joy when you were learning.

Learn More

If you are interested in joining the volunteer community at Ada, see the available roles where you can plugin here.