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NodeGirls: Coding Workshop for Women

Today I wanted to do a post about an amazing event I attended last weekend, but which isn’t books related. It is, in some way, related to blogging though! NodeGirls is a free workshop that teaches code to women and non-binary and trans people. They run in London and Oxford in the UK, along with Stockholm, Madrid, and Tel Aviv. I was fortunate enough to attend their London workshop this past weekend and had the best time!

NodeGirls London runs events maybe three times a year, each hosted by a different company. The event is actually two workshops; one introduces Javascript to complete beginners, and the other teaches Node.js to those who have a little Javascript knowledge already. I took the beginners course – I can find my way around the HTML and CSS of a WordPress or Tumblr theme but that’s about it!

I don’t have plans to become a software developer anytime soon, but I’ve always wanted to learn a little more code. It’s an increasingly in-demand skill. I work in publishing which is becoming more and more digital so I thought it would be a great addition to my CV if I could do a little bit of coding, and it might help me out a little if this blog decides to throw a wobbly! My brother is also a Full Stack developer so I wanted to be able to understand what he’s talking about when he tells me about his projects.

The Deliveroo office coffee bar, at our disposal.
Photo: NodeGirls

The workshop I attended was hosted by Deliveroo so it took place in their swanky offices near the Thames. Breakfast and much-needed coffee were provided in the morning, with some time to meet other attendees and find out a little bit about why people were taking the workshop. People were there for all different reasons; some were like me, with very little coding experience, looking to get an introduction to one of the many languages out there, whilst others were experienced software developers interested in learning another code on top of their knowledge of languages like React or Python.

Breakfast was followed by a quick introduction from co-founders Michelle, Mina, and Claire. The three met at coding boot camp Founders and Coders and decided to start their own workshop focusing on introducing coding to gender identities that are underrepresented in the industry. It was great to hear their stories of how they got into code, as it showed how you didn’t need to do an entire degree in software or web development in order to learn and begin a career in the industry.

We then split into the two workshops. My beginners workshop took place in Deliveroo’s Mac & Cheese room – all of their meeting rooms are named after food! Michelle led the beginners workshop and began by telling us a little more about her path into the industry, and explaining the difference between front- and back-end code.

Front-End

Everything you see, the user interface. Fonts, colours, menus, etc. A combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Back-End

The hidden bit, that makes the front end actually work. Servers, databases, and applications. Uses languages like Python and React.

Front-End + Back-End = FullStack

Then we started to code! The workshop uses NodeGirls’ web-based tutorials which are executed in a platform called Repl.it. Michelle and other mentors, many of which are previous NodeGirls attendees, were around to jump in and help out if any of us got stuck at any point, though they also encouraged us to Google our problems, as this is how they learned a lot of what they know – trial, error, and Google! The tutorial covers data types, variables, for loops, and more. You can access the exact tutorial I used on NodeGirls’ website here. It was so satisfying to punch in a bunch of code and see the result in Repl.it, especially when it doesn’t work at first and then you figure out the bug!

Lunch was provided by the lovely folks at Deliveroo and there was more time to talk to other attendees, as well as trying out the office’s swing table (left; photo: Deliveroo) and a quick game of ping pong! After lunch, some mentors gave talks about their ‘coding journeys’ and mental health, which was a great addition considering it was Mental Health Awareness week. We then had a final hour of coding, before wrapping up the day with doughnuts!

It was a fantastic environment in which to be introduced to JavaScript and coding in general. The team at NodeGirls and all the mentors are so supportive and really champion women and gender minorities in this industry. If you’re interested in learning more about coding, definitely check out the NodeGirls website, and if you’re lucky enough to have a team in your city then keep an eye out for their events!

NodeGirls Class of May 2019!
Photo: NodeGirls

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