I concluded a rather hectic, stressful, self-doubting week on a high note, with the Code First: Girls community at their Northern Conference.

I’ve mentioned this again and again on my blog and on social media (mainly because I get asked by different people all the time): how did I get involved with CFG? There’s a post for that! I outlined my story in last year’s CFG Conference that took place at Twitter in London.

The Northern Conference

❀️Community love

Team #ShefCodeFirst
Team #ShefCodeFirst

It was great that CFG organised a conference up North to bring the community from the North of England together. Like the conference down in London, it was nice putting a face to names I’d seen floating around online, re-connect with those I’d met at last year’s conference and during the Vodafone event and introduce the Sheffield CFG (#shefcodefirst) girls to the incredibly empowering wider community.

The latter, I’m sure you’ll all know by now is something I love doing this so much because it isn’t just a course anymore, it’s a bigger thing that can have a huge impact in THEIR future. It’s honestly super rewarding to see and has been demonstrated time and time again like at our various squad trips to events like inspireWIT, Empowering women with Tech and various hackathons.

Not entirely sure what's going on here...
Not entirely sure what’s going on here…

This was a highlight for me:

πŸ’»Workshops, panel talks and pitches

Despite arriving a little late because of the snowy weather, we managed to get as much out of the day as possible. Hearing a panel talk on Machine Learning – the current impact and the possibilities of Machine Learning in the future. Very interesting with some innovative ideas!

Machine Learning Panel
Machine Learning Panel

We also heard from various companies in the Northern area that are currently hiring for current students and graduates. There’s always a claim that there are “more jobs” in London but hearing from these huge companies (e.g. PwC, ThoughtWorks, Sparta Global) dismisses that completely!

Companies Speed Pitch
Companies Speed Pitch

I particularly felt encouraged by most of the companies stressing that you do not need to tick all the boxes because training on the job will teach you everything you need to know. The thing that is important is attitude and mindset. With this in mind (I’ll probably print this and stick it on my wall), I will be changing my approach to job applications! I can do it!! πŸ’ͺ🏼

Introduction to Javascript session
Introduction to Javascript session

A favourite session of mine was the “Introduction to Javascript” workshop with Harriet. It was hands-down the best beginner-friendly session ever! I was inspired to look at JS from the beginning, learn it better to explain it better to others – like Harriet did! She highly recommends JS for Cats. Because what better way to learn anything than with cats? 😸

🎀 On public speaking #4

What else made the conference awesome for me, you ask? Being invited to do a panel talk on personal development, of course! I said this on Instagram when it was announced, the lead up to the conference and after the conference (so I probably sound like a broken record) but I am so honoured for the opportunity.

Personal Development Panel
Personal Development Panel

I’ve always wanted to give a talk at a CFG event ever since I got involved in 2016 – I never really thought I would ever be speaking publicly let alone at a CFG event πŸ™ˆ

As always, I like filming my public speaking gigs to get an idea of where I can improve and of course, to do my thing – document life! πŸ˜‰ When I was editing the video, I found myself regretting not taking more footage during the day (time flew by) but I tried to show it all at the start. Thanking Code First: Girls’ camera crew that documented the day well – I’ll be updating this post when it’s up! πŸ‘€

Key notes from the panel:

  • Your route into the tech field doesn’t have to be conventional (you don’t need a CS degree!)
  • You can be part of the tech community (hey, CFG is a pretty awesome one to get involved in πŸ˜‰) regardless of your background whether that’s education, race or gender. These communities welcome all! πŸ’–
  • Building an online presence/”brand” takes time. Enjoy the process! It’s fun! I haven’t “made it” yet (I never get what this really means, we’re always evolving to be better than yesterday, right?)
  • Balancing personal and professional presence – I like to keep my online life all in one place, I think it gives a more realistic impression of what I’m like in real life instead of a perfect employable person that only tweets about conferences! (If you do this and prefer it that way, that’s fine. I just love the internet 😜)
  • Do I share everything? No! I only share what “feels right” -I said on the panel, I think I’ve been doing this so long now that I sort of just know what to share and what not to post all over the internet. One rule that I stand by is: never share anything that may offend someone.
    Although I am a positive person, I do like to share the “real” things because it’s not always rainbows although social media may make it look like that. I do this to possibly help someone who may be going through a similar situation – I know that relating helps me sometimes. (Example: mental health)
  • My story of sparking interest in the digital world and tech, my Biomedical Sciences background, finding my community and the blogging world. If you’re interested, check out here and here
  • Having a positive presence online can lead you to work! I share some stories on some recent freelance sucess.
  • Don’t let people put you in rigid boxes. If you want to be x, y, z, you be x, y, z.

And onto segment: a-tweet-that-made-me-tear-up πŸ˜­πŸ’–:

#CFGNConf18 in pictures

Thank you CFG ✨

Want to get involved either to take part in one of the Code First: Girls courses or join the team to help teach girls critical digital skills? Find out more here! Let’s close that gender gap πŸ’ͺ🏼

I write about this wonderful community a lot, here’s some posts I’ve written on Code First: Girls:

8 responses to “#CFGNConf18”

  1. I always love everything you are putting yourself into, and I really hope you’ll find time and energy to continue once you start working full time. πŸ™‚ It’s such an asset to have somewhere to belong and learn in, and you’re helping to provide a safe space that is so rare for Women in Tech, and minorities in general. Congrats on the conference, and keep on trucking along!! πŸ™‚

  2. I had no idea there was such a big community for girl coders. If I had known that, I would totally have studied coding in college! Loving your squad pics!

    Simply Lovebirds

  3. Sounds like another amazing time! Congrats on getting to speak!

  4. This is cool! I am taking up a class involving Machine Learning and Data Science right now, so it’s really exciting! πŸ™‚

    It’s true that you don’t need all the skills right away, as long as you have the essential understanding down! When I graduate from college, I used to think that I needed to know everything before I applied for a job, but when I got hired they trained me on the job anyway so it turns out I didn’t have to worry too much πŸ™‚

  5. That’s great that you got to speak at the conference! I know how much CFG means to you, so that must have felt amazing. It looks like it was a very encouraging panel, especially for people who aren’t sure how to get into the tech field. The other talks sound really interesting too!

  6. Love this entry, Pauline! I am so amazed at how passionate you are about this community :’)

  7. Love love love ALL the work that you do with coding and the organizations for female coders and women in the tech industry. This is definitely OUR time to rise up and become a force within this field. I also really appreciate the takeaways you shared. Especially about becoming and online presence. It’s all a journey so you might as well enjoy it!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  8. First of all congrats on your talk, Paw! I’m so proud that you’re speaking at more and more gigs and really building up that confidence.

    I’d been following all your tweets about the conference and your Instagram stories – even the part about being stuck in snow and possibly not making it there haha! Thanks so much for sharing.

    The #CFG spirit never left me even after I left Sheffield. I feel like it broadened my entire landscape/horizons and gave me the confidence to pursue more things involving tech. I’m currently (very slowly) learning Python in my own time and taking a subject that involves programming in VBA for finance. Honestly, I probably would never have had the confidence to try out these if it weren’t for the A/W CFG course I attended, and if you hadn’t tweeted about being part of the community. So massive thanks again, for being such an inspiration and massive help. Can’t wait to read more posts πŸ™‚

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