Meet Ute Bracklow!

Before joining the Learn IT, Girl! scholars, Ute decided it was time for a career change: from a managerial role to learning web development. In her own words:


Ute BracklowI am living in Berlin. I have a Masters degree in North American Studies, Modern History and Psychology. The last years I have worked as Training Manager for different fashion retailers. Building structures and capacity for people development in an international environment was an exciting and rewarding challenge. I traveled a lot, got to meet and work with a lot of interesting and dedicated people. I decided to take a break from it last year. After travelling for a bit I returned to Berlin in autumn.

Coding was something that presented itself as an interesting new challenge. There is a whole new world to discover. I was interested in the people who actually make all the sites, programs and apps that we use everyday. Also this is something completely outside of my skill set. I have used parts of my brain during the last weeks that I haven’t used since I left school. I love learning new things, I have time now and so I thought – if I don’t try it now, I might never. So here I am learning Python :)/>


She was also kind enough to share her first steps into programming with us:


In 2014 I quit my job as Training Manager in fashion retail. After 6 months off-time coding was to be my new project. I knew VERY little. But living in Berlin I was curious about the tech and start-up scene – a world I had no connection to. LearnITGirl was my opportunity to test if coding is something for me. How much I can learn and achieve if I devote my energy and time to it.

When writing the application I couldn’t even make a good choice of which language to learn. Honestly I just didn’t know what they do. I had never heard of Python. The programs’ schedule was the structure I needed to go about. Having a mentor was the big bonus. Asking someone for help isn’t something I do easily. Now I had a “safe” person to go to. Especially in the beginning, Marcin was so helpful to give me orientation. We met via Skype, discussed my ideas and he encouraged me that it would be a good project to work on. Ready, steady, go!

GitHub was the first challenge. I had seen the kitten, but had never heard about the platform. I opened an account, downloaded it and completed a tutorial. Still it remained a mystery. I had never even worked with a command prompt. Marcin explained and sent me links to read up on basic internet architecture. Then I started to research online learning resources. There is a lot of free stuff on the internet. Deciding what to use took some time. I worked through different tutorials at the same time – and found myself quite overwhelmed after a week. So I decided for one and did it beginning to end. I also printed an actual book (paper!) as it was good to have something to scribble notes onto. After the first 2 weeks my conclusion was: there is so much that I don’t know! But also I wrote the first bits of code: a loop for registering and login in users – and I felt great when it worked! My next challenge was Django, the framework I would use. Another tutorial, long nights at the library, days of frustration – and big satisfaction when my project was online.

My project is not finished and I still know so little. But there is something on the net that I did – this is great and I am proud! I have decided to devote another 4-6 months to concentrate on coding. I started to build a local network by attending tech meet-ups –workshops, learning groups and female tech networking events. The project gave me sense of entitlement to go there “Hey, I am coding as well.” I found people to be open and supportive. And it is fun and inspiring to hear other peoples’ stories and projects. I would like to find a job in the tech industry – probably not as a coder right away – but I want to stay close and keep on learning more.


You can check out Ute’s project on GitHub!

Thank you very much Ute for participating and welcome to the programmers’ club 😀

Advertisements

Meet Geetika Batra!

Today we’re featuring Geetika, one of our Learn IT, Girl! scholars who has successfully completed her project. She is a final year student in Electronics and Communication Engineering and her interests include programming and solving various problems associated with programming. She wants to work in game development, so she is learning 3D modelling as well. She plans to apply to Google Summer of Code, and she hopes that the programming experience of the past few months will help her as she codes over the summer.

Geetika’s implemented an application for keeping track of employees in an organisation. The source code is available on GitHub.

Here are a couple of words regarding her experience with the Learn IT, Girl! program that Geetika kindly shared with us:


“All you do is insignificant but it is important that you do it. Because nobody else will” – Mahatma Gandhi

Geetika Batra“Learn IT, Girl!“ is one such platform where some fine ladies took pride to teach girls who were seeking guidance. I am one such girl who was directionless before November 2014 and then out of the blue I came across this program and ‘Voila’, it was all I needed.

Initially I was in a dilemma, plenty of questions revolved my mind. Was I appropriate for the program? What if I don’t meet their expectations? Was I moving in right direction? “You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you”. And this program was something that mattered to me.

Well, then all my fears were insignificant when I got to know my mentor Małgorzata Borzęcka. She appeared to be an amazing lady. She helped me in the best possible way she could, created tutorials for me, helped me out solving errors, provided me with the best tutorials that were available.

“The Project”

The project I worked on was a web application in ASP.NET MVC and believe me it was not just ASP.NET MVC, I repeat quoting with air bunnies “It was not just about ASP.NET MVC”. In order to create this application I learned MS-SQL, Entity Framework and of course ASP.NET MVC.

But learning all of this at once was not that infuriated me, it was the little error in controller I was facing. Ohhk! it was a stupid error, but I spent ten days and ten to twelve hours each day, burned the midnight oil, but was nowhere near solution. And then finally, everything fell in place and I solved it.

The thing I learned the most in this ten day process was not to solve that little evil error, but it was the effort and the dozens of other things I learned while fishing for the solution. After this I recalled some words of my teacher. She told me that when you get stuck at something and someone else did it in the first attempt, keep in mind that when you do it the next time you would do it first because you know all the possible causes of error.

Well, being in touch with the community, I just was not just restricted to C# or .NET. Besides my original project, in response to a post on the page about Django girls tutorial, I learned it as well. Ohk! that was my curiosity taking the best out of me. But, at the end, I would like to thank my mentor Małgorzata Borzęcka and the ‘Learn IT, Girl!’ community for this amazing opportunity. You are doing a great job. I hope this program reaches infinity and beyond and keep on encouraging girls like that. I am proud for being a part of it. Cheers!!


Meet Ana Balica!

Ana is one of our Learn IT, Girl! scholars, a recent graduate of Technical University of Moldova. Contributing to free and open source software is one of her passions. She is actively developing the Systers Portal and also trying to build a community of active contributors.

We’ve asked Ana if she could share with us her experience with the program and the Android application she’s developed:


Ana Balica“Meow Letters” is a game intended for children to practice their knowledge of the alphabet. Kids are supposed to create chains of consecutive and adjacent letters. The game makes you think fast, since when the timer is up, the board fills up with new letters. It’s game over when the board is full. The main achievement metric is the amount of points accumulated. Not so sophisticated in theory, but rather complex when trying to convey the goal of the game to the end user.

With “Meow Letters” I’ve had the beauty and the burden to work on a project from scratch, acting as a developer, tester, designer. I’ve started with the app requirements, describing each element and use case as precise as possible. Then I did some wireframing to be able to create a rough interface. I continued with the logic part of the game, adding some unittests. Then moving on to visual and interaction part. When it felt ready, I put apart all the code and designed the visual part of the game. Eventually the interface was implemented, a few discovered bugs fixed and in 2 days it was on the Play Store.

The main reason of enrolling in this program, was to learn a statically typed language and push myself to bring an app to a production release. I’m still not sure if I would ever consider using Java for any of my projects, but I see the benefit of knowing its strengths and weaknesses.

I know the app is far from perfect, but I’m still glad I put it on the Play Store. Because in that way I learned that Android market is huge and it takes a tremendous effort to release a quality app by covering all those customized Android versions, different screen densities and other little details that occur here and there for a small subset of devices. Even though we now have powerful tools, like Android Studio (Android IDE from JetBrains) and Genymotion (fast Android emulator), there is still need for real hardware in order to test apps. I hope the fragmentation problem will be solved in the near future.

All in all, I believe the effort of disciplined work during those 8 weeks made me a better developer. I thank the organizers and my mentor for the help and collaboration.


Thank you too, Ana!

You can check out Ana’s application in the Play Store, and you can find her on GitHub and YouTube.