During the workshop, mentors helped participants go through the Codecademy Make a Website tutorial. By the end of the 3-hour workshop, everybody had had a taste of laying the foundation of a website with HTML, and styling it with some CSS. “I had always thought that learning web development was too difficult to even try,” admits Alice Aasmäe-Kahar who participated in the event. “But it turned out it’s like assembling a puzzle - and I love assembling puzzles!” She adds, “The whole gang of mentors and speakers was simply very inspiring.”
There were also great inspirational talks from amazing women making it happen in various roles in the tech industry. Elise Sass from Microsoft Estonia talked about how she first started out in tech, and how her ability to think like a programmer (granted she’s not a programmer) has helped her land some truly exciting jobs. Helen Kokk from YourDesignWorks also shared the story of her humble beginnings, as she dove head-first into front-end development and how she became a UX designer. Janika Liiv from Toggl shared her thoughts on why women should learn IT skills and encouraged everyone to challenge the status quo of the ‘brogrammer’ culture.
As per a survey conducted prior to the workshop, there was a variety of different reasons for wanting to participate in the workshop.They ranged from making a total career change, to having better choices on the job market, to a chance at a higher salary. There were women with ideas they wanted to be able to realise on their own, as well as women wishing to become freelancers. Someone even said they wanted to participate because “programming is sexy”. That is a totally legitimate motivation, by the way.
“As a mentor, I was very pleased to have so many questions from the participants - questions that were on much broader topics than just about the tutorial,” says one of the founding members of Tech Sisters and a lecturer at Estonian IT College Katrin Loodus. “These kinds of in-depth thinkers, who are able to see the bigger picture, are exactly what the IT landscape needs.”
At the end of the evening, another Tech Sisters’ volunteer and a mentor for the event Hanna-Mari Kirs shared some of the wisdom she gained when learning tech skills on her own. “When I first started to learn tech skills, it was really exciting, but with so many resources available, it also got really overwhelming really quickly,” says Hanna-Mari. “That’s when I learned to embrace the confusion and let go of the feeling that I have to understand everything as the information is presented to me, before I can move on. In fact, with learning tech skills, it’s really important to keep moving, practicing and asking questions. Having real problems to solve makes it so much easier to stay focused and motivated.”
The event’s main organiser Kaidi Ilves, who was also a mentor at the workshop, says this project is very dear to her heart. “Not only because I live and breathe tech every day but because I believe that when you make it easy and safe for women to learn coding from their peers, something exciting happens.” She also admits she was over the moon that the event received so much positive feedback from the participants. She says, “I hope we can make more of these events happen in the future. I’d really like to see a tight-knit community grow out of these and other Tech Sisters events, so women who want to learn tech skills have a place to ask advice and collaborate.“
Thank you all for participating in this event, and helping us kick off what is hopefully the beginning of a series of similar events. We would also like to give special thanks to Microsoft for supporting our event and our cause.