Perspectives

CoderGirl - LocalFlavorSTL

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When I graduated from high school, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to major in, but I knew that computer engineering and computer science were highly sought after fields that made a lot of money. I enrolled in a summer computer science program called PREFICS (Pre-Freshman in Computer Science) at Tuskegee University and took C++ as my first programming class.

On the first day, as I listened to the instructor give an overview of the semester, I wondered ‘What have I have gotten myself into?’ It was like learning a foreign language, and I needed an interpreter. I struggled to break through the language barrier, and unfortunately, failed the class. I had to retake it in the fall and barely passed the second time. It was then I knew that computer science was not for me.

Since that experience, computer science, programming and related fields have continued to grow as in-demand jobs. As these fields have grown, they have also become more inclusive and the language is a little less foreign.

Over the past year, I’ve been immersed in the startup/entrepreneur scene in St. Louis and would often hear great things about a local company that educates and empowers women in coding called CoderGirl, a LaunchCode Education program that encourages more women to get involved in technology and secure apprenticeships through LaunchCode.

Check out our interview with CoderGirl Program Director, Crystal Martin, as she shares some insight on the program and their upcoming events.

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1. Can you explain what coding is and why it’s become so in-demand specifically in the St. Louis region?

Coding is simply humans telling computers what to do. Humans use language to communicate, and computers are the same way: you choose a language based on what you want to communicate. Coding has always been an in-demand skill, and its demand has grown with technological advances, especially the increasing demand for mobile products. It has become more in demand in St. Louis because of all of the corporations and startup growth happening here. Many companies are looking at themselves as technology companies first and foremost.

2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working for CoderGirl?

The most rewarding aspect of working with CoderGirl is seeing someone’s life change before your eyes. I’ve watched so many women show up wanting to learn how to code to secure a better job and future for themselves and their families, and they do it! They set a goal, and they reach it. They go from being stay-at-home moms to professional developers, from post-college fledglings to young women launching their careers in tech, from being dissatisfied with their current career trajectory to finally finding that thing that sets them on fire. It is SO cool to see and so inspirational.

3. In three words, describe yourself.

Honest, Energetic, and Animated

4. Are there any upcoming events or programs that you’d like to mention?

CoderGirl is a weekly meetup that happens every Wednesday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the LaunchCode Mentor Center and on the 1st Wednesday of the month we have the CoderGirl Speaker Series. Coming up on September 7th we have Neem Serra, an iOS developer from Asynchrony Labs coming to do a Swift iOS Development Workshop. Sign up details will be posted on the CoderGirl Facebook Page. CoderGirl is also co-hosting a Diversity in Tech Happy Hour with AIGA- St. Louis and Blacks in Technology as an unofficial after-hours event for the Strange Loop conference in St. Louis. The event is September 16th at 6 p.m. at the Centene Center for the Arts. More event details to come!!

As the startup/technology scene continues to grow, it’s evident that CoderGirl will continue to be a valuable asset and resource to the community locally and abroad.

Maybe you are interested in coding or have aspirations to learn more about a particular field. There are tons of resources in the St. Louis Metro that are willing to assist you. You could do this on your own, but the journey is much more rewarding with others.

What dream job are currently pursuing, and what’s your plan to get there?