A Day in the Life at a Digital Agency

This summer, Isobar hosted a group of 20 young women from Chicago-area high schools who are participating in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program (SIP). In addition to coding clubs offered during the school year, SIPs are 7-week summer programs aimed at giving 11 and 12th grade girls the opportunity to learn programming basics, as well as gain exposure to tech jobs and organizations. We were thrilled to be a featured company, share our experiences, and fulfill a core mission: to build and empower a community of women within the digital space.

In the few hours we spent with the young women, we covered a lot of ground! We shared case studies, facilitated a panel discussion, toured the office, lunched, raided kitchen snacks, brainstormed and demonstrated virtual and augmented reality technologies.

Photos by John Khuu

To kickoff the day, we gathered the girls in our primary conference room and polled the group, “Who can tell us what a digital agency does?” After a handful of accurate guesses, we explained our work and primed them with our client list:

“Have you heard of McDonald’s? HBO? LEGO? These are our clients.
Do you shop online? Do you have apps on your phones? We design and create these experiences.”

The conversation transitioned to the roles necessary to complete a digital project: from planning, strategy and creative design to development, analytics and testing. And then the questions started…

Student: “How many hours a day do you work?”
Isobar: “Eight or nine.”
Another student: “Oooooh, that’s a lot!”
Student: “How many days a week do you work?”
Isobar: “Five. But, sometimes we’ll work on the weekends if we need to meet a deadline. And sometimes, we even come into the office on the weekends for the fun of it to participate in Hackathons.”
Whole room: *Gasps*

Then it hit us. Despite the fact these girls volunteered for a summer of coding, “working in technology” carried the usual stereotypes of “you’re always on a computer” and, well, “boring.” Even more than before, we saw this as a chance to make technology an attractive option for these girls’ futures. We confirmed that we aren’t locked into offices, staring at computers all day. We touted how much we laugh at work, enjoy each other, and how everyone has an equal voice to share ideas and thoughts. We talked about how our work — the experiences we build — impacts people every day.

We wrapped the day with a “Learning by Doing” brainstorm exercise where Nitya provided background on virtual reality, available devices and some challenges virtual reality can solve. Using the prompts from Isobar’s recent office-wide VR Hackathon, we asked the girls to choose an activity they’d like to do but can’t because of a limitation — be it proximate, physical or financial — and use VR to accomplish it. Each group developed and presented great ideas, which included a chef’s assistant and simulators for deep-sea exploration, aircraft and medical surgery. After trying the HTC Vive and Microsoft Hololens, the group packed their things, offered excited, thankful goodbyes and headed for home.

What a fulfilling day! We hoped this glimpse of our work and lives at Isobar would inspire this group of women to not only participate in, but also one day lead the tech industry. Whether it’s through consulting, designing or coding, we want to dispel the stereotypes of what girls can and can’t do; we want them to thrive. According to the feedback we received, it sounds like we may have helped in doing just that!

“If I could give this a 100, I would. This field trip was amazing. It made me really want to work in tech. The people were nice and wanted to have us there. The view, the technology, the snacks, the presentations, the virtual reality…..it was amazing. I want to go again! Actually, all I want in life is to work at Isobar.”

“I loved this event because the people we interacted with were so energetic and excited. They made me realize what field I might be interested in for the future. I really enjoyed doing the activity that related to virtual reality, and loved that we played with the virtual reality gadgets. I appreciated that we were able to talk to the employees and ask them question one on one. I enjoyed the conversations I had with them, and thought their responses were super helpful and inspiring!”

“Isobar is a fantastic company and shows the girls what working in tech can look and feel like. I loved that they got to see a taste of what a really fantastic work environment might look like. The VR demonstration was a big hit and the speakers were received very well. Stunning success!”

Thank you to Girls Who Code for this opportunity and thanks to everyone who helped make this day such a success!

For more information on Girls Who Code, their Cracking the Gender Code report, and ways to get involved, please visit https://girlswhocode.com