Happy Internet Geek Tuesday!
Last week, I realized one of my 2013 goals: start the process of learning how to code with RailsGirls DC. Learning how to code has been on my life’s bucket list since 2011 when I learned about Kimberly Bryant’s Black Girl Code organization and Women Innovate Mobile, read an article about Girl Develop It’s first ladies-only hackathon in Fast Company, and attended web pioneer Aliza Sherman’s session on mobile marketing at the Blogalicious Weekend Conference. As a result, I signed up for Code Academy’s free online coding classes in 2012. Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the classes. I did, however, stay updated on women’s coding and tech projects, and attended the Women Interactive, a creative technology festival at Spelman College where I learned more about creating mobile applications, games, and webisodes.
This year, I started subscribing to the RailsGirls DC Twitter account and blog. That’s how I learned about the June 13th workshop on how to build apps and other programs with Ruby on Rails. I applied to participate and explained how I wanted to create apps to support the Digital Sisterhood Network.
After my application was approved, I made plans to attend the June 10th installation workshop and meet up at Living Social. Nervous is probably the best word to describe how I felt walking into the meet up. I calmed down a few minutes after I settled into my chair, opened my brand new Samsung laptop, and began chatting with other women who like me were embarking on their very first coding journey. Things got much better when I received one-on-one coaching support from volunteers who work during the day as developers. Each person who helped me was friendly, smart, kind, patient, and passionate about helping women learn and understand the world of coding. I left the meet up with more confidence, a better grasp of how to navigate Windows 8 on my new laptop, and a basic understanding of how to access my app on http://localhost:3000, open my terminal and start my app, Heroku.com, and SublimeText.com (the digital space where you can edit code files).
The June 13th workshop began on a positive note. The first person I met was my Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sister Geraldine Gooding (@STEMWoman). We connected and introduced ourselves as we entered the Silver Spring Civic Center. Our first conversation was about my bright royal blue and yellow Sigma bag. I’m so glad I carried my laptop in it! It turned out to be a great networking tool!
When we picked up our registration materials, we learned we were assigned to the same team. I sat down next to Emily Summers, founder of MarketTorque.com. Emily and I chatted about her MarketTorque business and dspire project, and our reasons for attending the workshop. Geraldine sat down next to my yoga digital sister Niyati (@awakenvision). What a reunion!
The other ladies at my table were friendly, fun, and filled with passion and positive energy. The best things about working with them were the support we provided to each other and the conversations we had during the coding exercises.
Our group coaches Greg Kenenitz and Melanie Gilman were AMAZING! They really held our hands, encouraged us to figure out challenges, and made sure we learned.
I really liked seeing the diversity among workshop participants (women of African and Asian descent were represented) and how the workshop organizers stayed on track with the agenda. It included a well-balanced mix of short presentations on Terminal, Ruby, and Rails, working sessions that allowed teams to complete coding exercises, question and answer periods with the coaches, lunch period with networking time (healthy vegetarian food included), yummy snacks (chocolate, Jolly Ranchers, and salsa and chips), and lightening talks (ten minute talks) on lean start up methodology, becoming your own chief technology officer, grit/perseverance/achievement, and becoming a developer.
Special shout out to the June workshop organizer Emily Williamson and the sponsors RubyNation, Living Social, Custom Link, SAIC, AT&T, Mod Cloth, Mobile Commons, Social Driver, Vox, Spree, Inferno Red Technology, and General Assembly.