MotherCoders Fall 2014: Colleen's Reflections on Week 1

Question: What did you learn today that surprised you?

Source: OMG Cat

Source: OMG Cat

Ok, I'm going to be the difficult MotherCoder and straight up say, “You know what, nothing I learned surprised me.” That’s because I came into Mothercoders with the expectation that my mind would be blown every session and, yes, the first one was atomic.

So, on a technicality, I was not surprised. However, in the same breath, I can say that what I learned in the first day deeply inspired and encouraged me. Eat your heart out Super Soul Sundays!

A slide from our morning lecture

A slide from our morning lecture

Setting a foundation

The first part of our day provided me with a solid foundation on how technology is used to solve problems and how many needs are neglected due to lack of diversity in the technology field. The best part of this section was the lasting questions it left me:

 

“What happens when we lack diversity in tech and how can I make a difference in shaping the tools we use?”

 

A big dose of inspiration

Sheri and her daughter

Sheri and her daughter

In the second part of the day we were introduced to the “Sasha Fierce” of the tech world -- the one and only Ms. Sheri Atwood, Founder & CEO of SupportPay, who had her daughter in tow. Building off of the previous, lecture, she is a prime example of what WILL happen when more mothers, women and people of color begin developing tech tools to solve a common problems.

 

 

OMG, is there anything this woman can’t do?!?

Lose your job in corporate America and run out of money?

Boom. She roundhouses those obstacles by creating her own startup.

Have a startup idea but don’t know how to code?

Boom. She karate chops her way through those barriers and builds a platform on her own.

Facing gender bias in securing venture capital for being a female founder and a single mom?

Boom. She makes like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and is now in a position to turn down investors.

Sheri is truly Inspirational. Every peak and valley of her story inspired me to be driven, to believe in myself even if no one else will. Thanks to her, I’ve also gained a greater sense of the funding process, along with tips on how to create products without reinventing the wheel and strategies for overcoming common hurdles for women in tech.

The second part of our day provided another encouraging “YOU CAN DO IT!” takeaway. Our guest speakers on web development -- Jackie Quinn from Google, Jenn Palubsa from Gap, and Raeanne Young from Quilted -- presented a comprehensive picture of the average work day for web development teams. I learned about which hard and soft skills are required, and that across industries and company size, it’s mentorship -- an extended hand -- that is so critical to success.

It was also reassuring to hear from our panelists - all successful, self taught coders -- that you don’t need a Harvard education or a Computer Science degree to become a web developer.

After our first day of class, I’m feeling encouraged and confident because I now have a good sense of what is required to succeed as a web developer, plus an amazing group women who are willing to help me get there.