Meet Kaya Thomas: She Built an App to Help you Find Books Written by Authors of Color

Kaya Thomas shares her story of being a Computer Science student at Dartmouth. In addition to being a student, she built WeReadToo, an iOS app to help teens and young adults find books written by and featuring people of color.

Tell us about yourself

I’m currently in my last year at Dartmouth College studying computer science. I have worked as an intern at Time Inc, Intuit and Apple. After graduation in June I’m joining Slack on their iOS team.

I have a lot of hobbies, reading, cooking, running and dancing are my favorite hobbies. Last week I was performing in Costa Rica as part of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble!

How did you first get started in your career in tech?

I got started in tech my first year at Dartmouth. I took my first computer science class winter 2014 and fell in love!

After that I decided to look for internships and I ended up being a mobile development intern at Time Inc. My boss was amazing, she was a VP who saw my potential and despite not having done an internship before she took a chance on me.

How do you go about learning a new technical skill like a programming language or framework? How did you learn iOS development?

When I first starting learning iOS development I looked for every online tutorial I could find. My favorites were AppCoda and Ray Wenderlich’s¬†blog. I would do the tutorials from start to finish then learned to adapt the code into what I needed it to do.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in tech?

If you’re considering a career in tech, go for it! Coding takes a lot of patience, but start by picking a language or framework that interests you and look up beginner blogs on the topic. Take it step by step and figure out something interesting you would like to build in that language.

Also there are a lot of jobs that are not programming intensive in tech, so also realize you don’t have to be a programmer to work in tech but knowing the skills regardless is helpful.

Tell us about We Read Too. How can we help?

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We Read Too is a mobile directory of books with PoC main characters written by authors of color. I created We Read Too because when I was in my early teens I realized I wasn’t being represented in the literature I was reading. I want young people to be exposed to books in which they are represented because when they can see themselves in these stories they can see their stories matter too.

Right now I’m campaigning on Indiegogo for We Read Too, we reached our initial goal but now we’re raising for our stretch goals. If your readers could check out the campaign, donate, spread the word and download the app that’d be so helpful!

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Twitter. You can also follow WeReadToo at @WeReadTooApp.


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