Women Who Code
Today I wanted to write a little bit about a meetup group called Women Who Code that I have been involved with since the summer of 2015. This is mostly a giant ‘THANK YOU!’ to them for everything they do.
Before I moved to Portland I was not a social person. I did just about everything I could to avoid being around people, especially if I would have to talk to them. ‘Anti-social’ would have been an understatement. I had friends, just not a whole lot and none that I really spent any time with. I hadn’t spent a lot of time around friends since high school. I am painfully shy (unless I know you then I tend to be crazy). When I did have to go to places where there would be people, I would keep to myself and not say a single word the whole time.
I moved to Portland to attend a code school and eventually get a job as a web programmer. I was quickly forced to admit that getting a job would mean getting over my social fears and getting out there and meeting people. One of the instructors at the bootcamp suggested to all the students that we checkout sites like meetup.com and calagator.org and find events to meet other coders. After several weeks of procrastinating (and a bit of nagging from the instructors), I found an event that I would try and go to. Lucky for me, it was a Women Who Code Networking Night event.
The event changed my life. Not an overstatement or an exaggeration in the slightest. It was the most welcoming group of people I had ever been exposed to: a whole bunch of people who were a little weird and nerdy and into programming. If that meetup hadn’t been so welcoming I am fairly certain I wouldn’t have tried going to another meetup and would have stayed my anti-social self. This was the first time I was really exposed to the social aspect of coding. I was surprised that I didn’t hate it.
At the first event, I met a recruiter who I am still in contact with. She has helped me on a number of occasions with resume review, mock interviews, and general encouragement. I met a programmer who works primarily in CSS, who has since sent me a number of articles on the CSS world since I expressed an interest in it. I’ve met people who invited me to work on group projects with them. I’ve attended (and won!) hackathons I never would have gone to in the past. Every job I have had since moving to Portland (other than teaching at the code school) has come from someone I have met because of a WWC event.
Since that first event in July of 2015 I have attended countless meetups with WWC and other groups. I’ve gotten comfortable being around people and even gotten to the point where I actually help lead some of the meetups, standing up in front of groups of people and talking. Women Who Code and the amazing Caterina (director of the Portland branch) have done more for me than I can express. The work they do to highlight other women in tech is awesome. The welcoming atmosphere they create for anyone of any level of coding ability at their events is unrivaled. I have truly enjoyed watching WWC grow from having one event a month to where they are now with several events each week. I recommend this meetup 100% to everyone new I meet in the tech world.