My Experience at Ladies Learning Code

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Description unavailable (Photo credit: JonLimCA)

I recently received the opportunity to attend the first Calgary event of Ladies Learning Code. I heard about the company around a year ago, and could barely believe it when I found out that they were finally coming to Calgary. I’ve learned code in various environments since I was a teen and I was a visible minority in all of them. On a rare occasions I even dealt with some sexist or, at the very least, patronizing behavior. I yearned for the opportunity to learn about technology in an environment that encouraged asking questions and that answered those questions without condescension. I would love a community of female programmers to form within Calgary, and I think that Ladies Learning Code is a great way to create that community. The class offered was an intro to HTML and CSS. Even though I already had HTML experience, I didn’t have a grasp of CSS yet and I also thought the event would be a great networking opportunity, so of course I signed up.

Before the Event

We received an email about what files and programs we needed to download and what we needed to bring a few days before the event. They suggested that we use a text editor called Sublime. Prior to this course, if I used a text editor at all I used notepad, which admittedly isn’t the best for programming. My older OS system on my Mac laptop didn’t support Sublime, so I emailed the team back to see what other suggestions they had. They immediately suggested that I use Text Wrangler. So far, so good.

Arrival

I arrived at the Assembly Coworking Space in Kensington around twenty minutes before the event began, and the room already felt cozy and packed with people. I immediately noticed that there were men as well as women in the room, but after a few moments I realized that fostering an inclusive environment meant including everyone. I placed my laptop at one of the few free tables and another girl seated at that table greeted me. She let me know that she would be a mentor who would help me if I could have any questions. Apparently every table had a mentor to help us through the lessons. I set up my laptop, got some of the coffee provided, and chatted while waiting for the class to begin.

The Learning Environment

A woman with flowing wavy hair appeared at the front of the room. She introduced herself as Christina Truong and the learning commenced. We opened the files we downloaded previously so we could follow the slides on our computers while also viewing them on the Powerpoint at the front of the room. Whenever I learn anything, I need to force myself to pay attention at the beginning when the easier concepts are introduced so that I’m not completely lost when we reach the more interesting and complex concepts, and this was no different. Even though I did find myself a bit bored at first, since I already knew some HTML, the quick pace of class drew me in. What I loved the most about the class is how, after Christina introduced a difficult concept or discussed multiple steps, everyone erupted into chatter with their mentors to catch up. One of the goals of Ladies Learning Code is to create a social, collaborative environment, and I think that they succeeded in their goal.

Final Thoughts

We ended the day with a mini webpage created in a similar format to this WordPress page using our own CSS and HTML. Admittedly it didn’t look too pretty yet, but I felt stunned at the amount we were able to accomplish in a single day. I also loved how they taught the class, since it catered to both advanced and beginners with its mentoring aspect. The advanced people could follow along with Christina’s quick pace while the beginners could catch up using the mentors at their table. I also found our instructor inspiring, since she let us know she started out with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications and Psychology and then branched into web design. I guess not everyone needs a degree in Computer Science in order to become a developer. I can’t wait to attend more Ladies Learning Code events and I hope that future ones include lessons on PHP and Javascript. I think that Ladies Learning Code is a perfect compliment to other coding resources that I use, such as Codeacademy.

Have you attended any Ladies Learning Code events? What are your thoughts on them? Let me know in the comments!

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