I’ve said this on my blog, on social media and in real life numerous times but I need to say it again: the highlight of my university experience (after 4 long years) is getting involved with Code First: Girls.
Last month marked my final term working with Code First: Girls in Sheffield and leaving my final class had me reflecting on the last 2+ years, feeling entirely grateful for the first time that email from CFG popped into my university inbox. Fast forward to today, so many things in my life has changed and the positive gains I made during that time, especially professionally but also personal development, was because of this community.
Today I wanted to share all these thoughts with you to celebrate the last 2 years, the continuous work CFG do and what we’ve achieved in Sheffield. 🎉
Working with Code First: Girls gave me the opportunity to…
1⃣🤗 Meet like-minded people and create a supportive network
Before joining CFG, the only people I could talk to about my favourite hobby of making websites was my family, closest friends and online friends from the blogosphere. It was a huge secret that I was too scared of ever talking about again, because of bullies in the past who made me feel like what I was doing online was embarrassing, was wrong, was a waste of time.
But since joining CFG, I’ve met so many people like me. People with different journeys into coding, people who want to learn more like I do, people that do things for the greater future and people who don’t judge me when I excitedly tell them about my online work.
Meeting my Twitter friends irl is so surreal 😍 @AlizaKr @pinglinh @clarecodes
Thanks for bringing us all together @CodeFirstGirls ❤ #cfgconf17 pic.twitter.com/BXO7pfb00y
— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) November 18, 2017
I used to code alone in my room, hiding away from everyone else. And when I was in a group, I was in a Computing class dominated by boys.
Since joining CFG, I’m always coding with a group of like-minded people with the majority being women. And let me tell you, I’ve never felt so welcomed and so free to be 100% myself.
I’ve found a supportive network who I know I can turn to whenever I need to. It’s the first time in my life I’ve found such a genuine group of people who share the same vision and interests as I do. 💖
2⃣👩🏻🏫Learn, teach and communicate
I learnt about things I hadn’t come across in my self-taught journey like Bootstrap, using GitHub to collaborate with others, GitHub Pages as a host and using Flask and Python.
The student becomes the teacher! @CodeFirstGirls alumna @paulienuh teaching CSS with added Beyoncé! 💪💚💙 #proud #ShefCodeFirst #womenintech pic.twitter.com/eDmikDG6bE
— Tejay White (@TejayWhite) October 24, 2017
This “learning-and-teaching” cycle helped me:
- Get my head around technical concepts and language
- Think of better ways to communicate these concepts better to beginners. And if that includes Beyoncé interactive tasks (which it almost always does) then that’s how I will be doing it. 😝
Beyonce GIFs for every coding occasion @paulienuh #shefCodeFirst pic.twitter.com/YqMQ9f9vZB
— Katjuša Koler (@katkoler) October 24, 2017
- Apply everything I learnt to my own personal projects and freelance work.
- Become more mindful of the fact that just because one person understands what I’m saying, doesn’t mean that everyone else does. One example of this that sticks out to me was when I was a freelance instructor at CFG x Vodafone earlier this year!
On the way back to Sheffield after an incredible day at @VodafoneUK doing what I love the most — talking about code with @CodeFirstGirls! I have learnt so much from today, thank you for the opportunity CFG community. ❤ @amali_d
The future IS exciting. I AM ready ✨ pic.twitter.com/Ahy6JlddK9
— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) February 16, 2018
3⃣📱 Experiment with exciting ways to enhance engagement
I initially started at CFG as a Student Ambassador with my main role being to spread the word of CFG and make sure students are engaged in the course. This coincided with my placement year in a Communications Intern role which allowed me to apply everything I learnt from the Marketing/Communications side of my placement to the course – this extended from sending an email to taking over social media every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
And alas, the hashtag #shefcodefirst was born. 😆
Remember to tweet us your experience using the hashtag #shefcodefirst to win tweet of the week and a GitHub sticker pack 💖👩🏻💻 pic.twitter.com/sfnJWsPbAZ
— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) October 18, 2017
…which led to:
- giving students the excess GitHub stickers (making them aware of what GitHub is and the wider student tech community!) 🐙😸
- an increase social media engagement 🚀🆙
- Project: Community. 💖
- Creation of the #shefcodefirst alumni Facebook group to get everyone connected and engaged with the CFG community even after the course is over.
- Students attending local events such as hackathons, conferences and networking events, whilst waving the #shefcodefirst flag 🚩 (
dang it, why didn’t I get this made?!)
- Students writing blog posts from technical (because they’re kickass developers now) to reflective posts using #shefcodefirst. 🙌🏼
I learnt ways to pass on my excitement and passion to others so that they can get excited and passionate too and… it has become a cycle of genuine love and pride for the community. And encouraged me to be creative in ways that I promote the course, whether that’s through blogs or campaigns, like the one I created for IWD 2017: Be Bold for Change that showcased amazing women in the CFG community.
This thinking of increasing engagement extended on to class with a post-it note system to help solidify student understanding and after class challenges!
🔗 Also, see:
- Enactus x #shefcodefirst
- A moment on SS 2017 #shefcodefirst
- A moment on AW 2017 #shefcodefirst
- A moment on SS 2018 #shefcodefirst
- HackSheffield 3.0 x #shefcodefirst
- HackMed17 x #shefcodefirst
- HackMed18 x #shefcodefirst
- Local Hack Day x #shefcodefirst
- Empowering Women with Tech x #shefcodefirst
- InspireWIT 2017 x #shefcodefirst
4⃣💫 Learn more about myself
For those who have been reading for a while, you’d know that I am a very reflective person (hence why I’m writing this post!) and always eager to improve. Each week after class, I would write down what I thought I did well and what I could improve for next time. This was self-development-gold. I collected points I could use to help make me a better communicator, a better person to work with, a better leader.
Throughout the 2+ years, I have definitely seen that I have improved in ways I teach, in ways I listen, in ways I lead. This not only is an excellent way for my professional life in a career but also in my personal life and relationships.
5⃣🚀 Boost my confidence in everything
This has to be the most significant thing CFG has helped me with. My confidence. It was so fragile before. I was so doubtful and lacked so much belief in my abilities. I never stepped up to opportunities because I continuously told myself that I was never “good enough”.
Loved @paulienuh‘s interesting and enthusiastic @sheffieldruby lightning talk, many inspiring things going on in Sheffield tech communities!
— Chris Murray (@chrismurray0) October 9, 2017
Being part of the CFG community taught me to step up, speak up, and believe that I can in anything I set my mind to, no matter my gender, ethnicity or background.
- I can code and can do it well. So, I secured a freelance Web-Development role.
- My voice and my story matters. I now give talks at conferences, meetups and events on building communities, my STEM journey and online presence.
- I can make a positive impact (just like I always wanted to!) So helped teach 100+ female students in Sheffield how to code and now mentor others!
- I can code and can do it well. I developed a sparkly portfolio where I’ve secured some client work!
- I am capable of pursuing a career in STEM – there IS room for me.
TL:DR – CF:G changed my life.
There has never a more exciting time to join the community and get involved – they are truly doing some incredible things, for instance, the recently launched 2020 Campaign that aims to teach 20,000 women how to code by 2020.
They are transforming lives of women across the UK every single day. Including mine (which I hope I illustrated above ✨) – I’m so proud to have been part of the growth of CFG in Sheffield. I’m so excited to see how the courses and community develops over time to not only inspire more women into entrepreneurship and tech but also give women the confidence boost that we all need at times to excel in our professional and personal lives. 💜
Thank you to the CFG family for letting me be a part of something incredible. 🙌🏼
You can read all the blog posts I’ve written on Code First: Girls here and I encourage you to get involved in your local community today.
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