A few years ago I started studying computer science without any prior programming experience and in German, which isn’t my native language.
Women Techmakers Berlin helped me to accomplish this challenging goal and to find the most interesting hobby.
I code almost every day and give back to the community by supporting the WTM organizer’s team. Our work is time consuming but it provides others with great opportunities, and is thus very rewarding. I had a pleasure of attending many awesome events, hearing great speakers and this experience taught me a lot.
I currently work as a software developer and absolutely love it.
As progrmming wasn’t a required skill for my new field of study I just figured out it wouldn’t be a problem to learn it. It turned out to be harder than I had estimated. Most of my peers had already had some courses in high school or were already skilled coders. Others, who also came inexperienced quickly decided to drop out.
After a month I was facing a situation where I was lagging a bit behind and didn’t know anybody encountering the same difficulties. I managed to pass a few exams, but after a few months I still wasn’t feeling good about my coding skills and was thinking about switching the faculty.
Before I gave up, I wanted to try my best. I enrolled in a few online courses, followed a bunch coding-related Facebook pages. One of them was “Women Techmakers Berlin”. They were announcing the 2nd edition of the Android Study Jam “Built your first Android App”. Meetups, support of the coaches, snacks… And everything free of charge!
At first I thought it might be some kind of a scam, because honestly, it sounded too good to be true.
My assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong! Not only was it a fully free course, it was also well prepared and made a huge difference for my career path.
The Meetups were held at ImmoScout24, one of the coolest office spaces in Berlin.
There were snacks and unlimited drinks. Long tables with enough power outlets for all. We also got swag and by that I mean well designed bags, notebooks, stickers and other merchandise.
Not only was it a fully free course, it was also well prepared and made a huge difference for my career path.
Android Study Jam Meetups byWomen Techmakers Berlin
The first weeks of the course weren’t very intense for me as I was already familiar with the basics, for example with the concept of variables. It was meant as an introduction for complete beginners (which is a great thing, encourage your sister, friend or mom to join some workshops or courses for complete beginners, it is fun to have learned such a useful skill!).
The course was really well structured.
There were also many tutors, always eager to help. During one of the classes I made my first, simple one-screen app - a picture of a cat and some birthday wishes - and it was working on my phone! It was a great feeling to show it to my friends and family.
Over the course we were developing an app that was to be presented at a graduation event, my friends won a free Udacity voucher for an Android Developer Nanodegree. I also got a small award, a Google Card Board, which I am really proud of still. Each participant got a certificate for completing the course.
As we went through the course, I did watch my lessons in form of video materials and wrote code as a homework. During the events we discussed our blockers and questions with the coaches and had a Slack #android-study-jam channel to stay in touch.
Those meetups had a really welcoming atmosphere, thanks to Natalie Pistunovich and all the tutors from GDG Berlin Android. I felt free to ask them questions. Observing them, especially Natalie made it visible for me, how with this attitude of mutual growth my career path could look like.
We still keep in touch. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check Lara Martin’s story on Medium. https://medium.com/udacity/a-year-of-android-ffba9f3e40b6. Lara has recently been announced a Google Developer Expert on Flutter, technology of developing software for Android and iOS.
Have I already mentioned there were around 30 pizzas?
After the course
Overall it was a really fun time in which I improved my coding skills, gained a lot of self-confidence and even got a job at my University, where I was developing a real Android app. I got an entry level job thanks to this little portfolio and used it as an opportunity to gather more experience.
After a few weeks I was offered a scholarship for the Android Fast Track by Udacity – a continuation of the Beginner’s course with weekly meetups for more advanced topics. They also paid the fee for the Google Android Developer Certificate – both are around 800€ in total so it was a really nice surprise.
Since my Android adventure has started it has slowly turned into a passion. I invest a lot of time into learning Android and make an awesome progress.
I joined the Google Developer Groups Android organizers team and co-organize a weekly Android Study Group and monthly meetups. I currently work as an Anroid Developer at the very same company that sponsored the course where I learned to code 4 years ago and I am a great asset to an even more amazing team. Learning to code as an adult, I really appriciate this new world of opportunities that is now open thanks to this great tool - the ability to code.
I advocate programming to non-techies because I can clearly see, how beneficial it can be. The other thing I notice is a positive impact WTM has not only on me, but also on others who attend our meetups.
I get to hear many life stories of switching careers and it is overall very gratyfing. Some people attending our meetups found a job or learned a new skill or at least heard and saw something interesting, made new connections.
Women Techmakers program is active globally, so if you move or travel there is a good chance there are some WTM meetups in the area.
I also strongly identify with the idea of empowering people through providing them an access to education. Natalie, the organizer I mentioned previously, worked in Kenya with an institute that provides free technical education to young adults in underprivilidged areas.
Berlin Tech Scene
Living in Berlin we have a privilidge of having an insanely active tech scene. Conferences, meetups, slack, Twitter and other online presence contribute to this boom and the loction - Berlin - gives it an additional touch. People talk about work life balance, inclusivity and diversity and the food plates are recycleble. Some events are child or dog friendly!
The demand for tech people is rising and doesn’t seem to stop in the near future. To fulfill this demand, companies are not only looking for people who graduated from university. The practical skills and a good cultural fit are the decisive factor. You don’t need to be a super pro in all kind of programming languages and algorithms. If you have those skills - amazing - if not, be eager to learn as much as you can while maintaining a healthy work life ratio. I think many people are kind of afraid of doing the first step because they believe computer science in general is too complicated or too hard for them. Prior to learning coding I was imagining it takes a lifetime to learn one programming language and now after this little time I used several of them
Anna Morgiel - community builder, android developer. Follow her: @aniamorgiel