MotherCoders

a technology training program for women with kids

2015 Google Impact Challenge | Bay Area Finalist Winner

Failures...err...Learnings from Week 1

Tina LeeComment
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I'm a big fan of the Lean Startup Methodology and Design Thinking - two powerful, problem-solving frameworks that can help you create testable solutions quickly and cheaply. But to use these methods, one must have courage and thick skin - because failure is inherent to discovering a path to success, and constantly putting your ego in peril by actively and regularly soliciting feedback is par for the course.

I know... it's icky... it's awkward... and it takes practice. But the pain is so worth it and oh-so-necessary.

In this spirit, MotherCoders was launched as a pilot -- an experiment, a testable prototype, a minimum viable product (MVP in Lean Startup speak) -- to see what we could do to help more moms on-ramp to technical careers in the new economy. And not only are we doing this experiment quickly and cheaply, we're doing it publicly so that we can hold ourselves accountable to you -- our community of support -- while maximizing feedback from you.

Based on what we've heard from our moms, last week we killed it with our speaker, Amrita Thakur of Teachscape, and our lecture covering how Maslow's hierarchy of needs can drive the design and creation of new tech. We were also delighted to hear positive feedback the moms had about each other. All in all, the moms left feeling inspired and excited.

But it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, folks.

Things that didn't work that great include:

  • Setting expectations - confusion over the agenda and schedule for the day
  • Caregiver breaks and lunches - confusion over what to do and when
  • Peer bonding - underestimating the need of moms to build community with each other
  • Coding practice - not creating an environment with enough space/structure

And, of course, there's all the stuff I could have done better on the backend, like sending out an update to supporters, reaching out to press, sending out thank you letters to donors, and many, many others of which I will spare you the details.

So my learnings for this week are:

  • Post an agenda at the beginning of class listing the day's activities
  • Keep working with caregivers to lock down a schedule
  • Build in more time for peer bonding; discuss with moms how best to do that without sacrificing precious instruction time
  • Experiment ways to help moms get into coding mode/flow
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But needed adjustments aside, I'm beyond stoked about this week's speakers!

Michelle Wetzler (@michellewetzler), Director & Data Engineer at Keen.io, will be doing a guest lecture on Big Data.

 
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Alyssa Simpson, Sr. Product Manager, Mobile, IBM (Tealeaf), will be speaking at lunch about Customer Engagement Management, product management, and mobile trends.

We're extremely grateful to these awesome ladies for coming to our class.

 

We're also very grateful for the generosity of this week's lunch sponsor, Sang Rowand of Albany Home & Auto. The lunchtime speaker series enables our moms to learn directly from industry experts like Michelle and Alyssa, while expanding their network of support.

 

And thank YOU again, our community, for being a part of this experiment to on-ramp moms to technical careers in the new economy. Please feel free to let me know if you've got thoughts and ideas on how we can do better by emailing me at tina@mothercoders.org.

We're also looking for a few more lunch sponsors, so if you or your company can afford to do it, we'd be super grateful.

Tina