(fun fact: getting your code to say ‘hello world’ is one of the oldest traditions in software)
I’m currently on Week 5 of an Introduction to Python Programming course ran by not-for-profit organisation Code First: Girls (CFG). Over the past few years, I’ve had a particular interest in the technology sector, and decided it was time to bite the bullet and start investigating how I could get involved.
Now, this was an interesting challenge, given that I’m a pure humanities student who hasn’t had formal Maths education since GCSEs and didn’t have the opportunity to learn to code during my undergrad. I heard about Code First: Girls through a friend and was apprehensive of how I’d find it.
Regardless of this, I decided to go ahead with the CFG online course, and have never looked back. The course is designed for university students and those in full time work, and consists of 8 weekly 2-hour workshops.
I’ve had lots of other non-STEM peers ask me for an honest opinion on how I’ve found the experience, particularly in the early days. So, to give you an idea of what it might be like, here is a summary of my main takeaways from my first lesson.
Note: the content of CFG classes remains the intellectual property of CFG, so I’ll primarily be discussing how I prepared for my first Python class and how I found it.
Things I wish I’d known before my first CFG Python class:
- I promise you don’t need to have done coding before. Promise. P r o m i s e. Especially for your first class! Everything is designed for complete beginners, so come with an open mind and willingness to learn. If you get stuck, there are multiple instructors, so it’s straightforward to ask for help. If you enjoy logical processes, you’ll probably enjoy it; my degree background is social and political sciences and I liked the way you can slowly build upon your coding knowledge to create more advanced programs.
- Give yourself some time to install and set up the required technology: CFG provide very clear instructions on how to set up everything you need for your first class. We use PyCharm Community, and at the beginning of my first class, when I went to open this for the first time, it took about 20 minutes to open on my incredibly slow laptop. I was stressed trying to simultaneously memorise the steps the class was taking and waiting for the programme to open – lesson learned and it’s been plain sailing ever since.
- It doesn’t have to be a solo battle. CFG offer a variety of courses – why not encourage a friend to sign up as well? Although CFG manage the applications and allocation of students to courses, having someone you know do any of their courses is a good way to hold yourself accountable. I was fortunate enough to end up on the same lesson slot as one of my friends (hi, Michelle!) and have found it incredibly helpful to talk to someone else during this learning journey about both its highlights and challenges.
- There are so many online resources to support you in your journey. CFG do a great job providing their core curriculum, teaching and homework tasks. However, if there is anything you are unsure on, there are also hundreds of blogs, videos and courses that you can follow to go over topics covered in class.
Interested in signing up yourself?
Code First: Girls run three free courses:
- Introduction to Web Development
- Introduction to Python Programming
- Introduction to Data Science and SQL Programming
These courses are open to self-identifying women:
- aged 18-23
- OR are currently studying at university
- OR have finished their studies in the last two years
If you’re interested in signing up for a free course (2 hours, once a week for 8 weeks), you can do this here. As you can probably tell, I’d highly recommend it.
In these uncertain times, it is useful to think of different ways to approach challenges and think broadly regarding different options which may be available to you.
A big thank you to all the volunteers at CFG for helping female students from all backgrounds to begin to explore careers and possibilities within the tech industry.
Got any questions? As always, feel free to contact me through the HBN contact page, or LinkedIn.