My creative side awakens as #MoCoPilot ends
Our last guest speaker, Kathy Bellevin, Co-Founder and COO of Wildflower Health, was so befitting for our last day. As I wondered what was next for me after an intense 6 weeks of lectures, coding, and camaraderie, Kathy narrated her professional path toward becoming a co-founder of a health-tech start-up. It was full of twists and turns, yet all her experiences got her from one point to another, strengthening, preparing, and ultimately leading her to where she is now. She encouraged us to think deeply about our own story, to find meaning in all the parts, discover how it got us to the present, and propel us to where we want to be.
My own story dates back to my tween-age years when a passion for art and design was seeded, a passion that flourished in high school. It then became dormant, however, once I chose to pursue a degree in science in college. And now that I've become a scientist and a mom of two young boys, I'm always wondering if I'll ever get the chance to seriously pursue that passion.
Then MotherCoders happened.
I applied to the program because I have been intrigued by coding - how it actualizes ideas and provides solutions. The creative aspect of this hit a nerve in me. So when I learned that MotherCoders offered to teach coding and expose different sectors of tech to moms like me, all the while providing childcare, I jumped at the chance and applied.
What MotherCoders really did for me is beyond what can be written, but I will try my best.
MotherCoders: My Orientation to Tech
On the first day, MotherCoders founder and fellow mom Tina Lee gave a lecture on the power in technology and the need to diversify the field, especially with mothers. She explained that MotherCoders was conceived because moms can bring tremendous knowledge, insight, and experience to the table, yet our voices are lacking in the technology landscape. With 81% of women in the U.S. becoming moms by the time they’re 45 years old (that’s A LOT of moms!), we should have a stronger hand in creating technology solutions that shape our world. That conviction resonated with me so sharply, I couldn’t stop talking about it for the next week.
The following Saturday, we learned about big data and analytics from Michelle Wetzler, Partner and Data Engineer at Keen.io. It blew my mind to find out just how much data is being collected on just about anything. What was even more fascinating was how the data is analyzed and how it’s used for the different purposes. It gave me a glimpse of how powerful technology can be. It felt a little unsettling actually, to know people are leveraging lots of data, including mine and my family’s, to accomplish their purposes. It only accentuated the need to the diversify the pool of data analysts and decision makers who determine how the information is used.
Again, I couldn’t stop talking about it for the next week.
We also heard firsthand how tech can improve civic engagement and scale community activity from Natalie Foster of Peers and Nicole Neditch of Code for America - women who are making serious impact on people’s lives.
And it was like that Saturday after Saturday.
Rediscovering my inner designer
What anchored this whole experience for me were the sessions on UX and web design. In addition to a workshop on design thinking with Molly Clare Wilson of Sliced Bread and the d.school, we also had 2 sessions with product design experts Ipsheeta Furtado and Soo Moon. These workshops taught me to focus and identify the problems and goals of a user, to focus on a need. They taught me to keep ideas and solutions simple and easy to follow, that imperfection is okay, and that improvements and changes are a natural part of the design process.
This experience has given me a starting place for all my future projects. In fact, it has changed my approach to problem solving altogether.
Build, build, build!
I am taking my newly learned HTML, CSS, and design thinking skills to build a website - Alchemy & Me. This site will combine my technical background with my zeal for fashion to create wardrobe solutions for women of varying shapes and sizes. I hope to engage a community of women who not only learn from the site but also share their own expertise and ideas.
So you see, MotherCoders, has provided a bridge connecting my present story to a new chapter in design and technology. This experience has opened my eyes to the ever expanding world of technology -- a world that I now know is hungry for the creativity, sensibility, and heart that moms bring.
I hope to share this story -- my story -- with many other women, especially moms, to excite and embolden them to step into this exciting and promising space themselves.
You can find Pia on Twitter @PiaSoy4.