Kaya Thomas is the developer of the We Read Too, an app that showcases hundreds of children’s books and young adult fiction written by and for people of color.
Based in New York, Kaya is a junior at Dartmouth College where she is majoring in computer science. Her interest in technology began in 2014 and she began working at Tiltfactor, a game design lab for social change. She has completed software engineering internships at Time Inc and Intuit working on mobile applications.
Last year, Kaya was named a CODE2040 2015 Fellow and serves as a technical volunteer mentor for Black Girls Code. Kaya was recently honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2015 Black Girls Rock! Awards based on her work in education and technology.
Dartmouth College, I’m still a student and will be graduating in 2017.
My first job was a mobile development internship with Time Inc where I worked with Entertainment Weekly to design, prototype and develop an iOS application.
FIRST BIG CAREER BREAK
My first big career break was developing my own application. I took the skills I learned in my first internship and created an iOS application named We Read Too. We Read Too is a book resource application that features hundreds of fiction children’s and young adult written by and for people of color.
MY TYPICAL DAY
During the school year, I’m usually in class and then I’ll use my free time to work on course work or my own projects. If it’s summer I’ll be doing an internship, so I’ll go to work during the day and hoping to relax or meet up with friends after work.
Right now I’m busy trying to grow We Read Too’s directory and adding new features to the application.
Being honored by the First Lady Michelle Obama at the Black Girls Rock! Awards.
When I’m not working I love to read books. Books for me have always been how I relax and also how I learn and broaden my own views and perspectives.
I can’t live without my computer. I can code on it but it also connects me to the internet which also me to connect with people and knowledge from all over the world.
I’m always inspired by my grandmother. She inspires me to be generous and humble.
My secret talent is drawing. Both of my parents are such creative people, my dad is a writer and my mom makes jewelry and draws. I feel blessed that some of their talents have been passed on to me.
The best career advice I ever received is to just go for it. For the first internship I had I wasn’t even going to send my resume. My best friend’s mom, who is like a second mother to me, encouraged me to go for it and that internship accelerated my love for software development.
Looking ahead I’ll be working at a great company when I graduate that cares about diversity and inclusivity as well as making software people love and need.
I LOVE WHAT I DO BECAUSE…
It can reach people all over the world in an instant.
Interview by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema