My first-ever panel! Welcome to CodeFest 2021

CodeFest is a huge, annual conference hosted by Code First Girls, which provides women with tech talks, career booster sessions and networking. I won an award at CodeFest 2020 last year, but this year, we were back in person!

I was invited to speak at Day 2 about my experience interning at Rolls-Royce’s AI Innovation Hub (R2 Data Labs), and how women can kickstart their careers in the technology industry.

This was my first-ever tech panel, so I thought I’d write up what my day looked like.

Welcome to my day at CodeFest 2021!

7.00am: Wake up, have a coffee, and re-read the panel brief from CFG. Mentally gear up for the trek to Canary Wharf from South London.

8.45am: The Jubilee line is magic, isn’t it? I check in to the awesome Level39 – a collaboration space for leading tech startups and talent. I’d love to meet more people in the startup world, so I’m pretty excited to be here.

9.00am: Set up for a morning of calls with my startup team at Ocula Technologies, including our daily stand up and a meeting with our engineering team to discuss our backlog. I nab a seat next to the window, and have maybe the best Zoom background of my career to date (see below).

Not too shabby…

12.00am: Time to meet my co-panelists! I had an amazing time interning at Rolls-Royce earlier this year, and worked with the brilliant Caroline, Manisha and Rebecca. Even though we worked together for 5 months, this will actually be my first time meeting my ex-colleagues in person. Off Zoom, Rebecca & I realise that we are both… tall. We catch up over lunch and get ready to take the stage.

12:40pm: We join the CEO of Code First Girls, Anna Brailsford, on stage. We’re live-streaming the conversation, but I hadn’t realised that we also had a live audience of over 100 women from the community. I also haven’t used a hand-held mic before! We had a great time talking about our careers and experiences, and enjoy a Q&A with the audience.

1.20pm: Just like that, my first panel is done! This was so fun, and I’d love to do more tech events in future. I catch up with a couple of attendees and make a note to watch back some of the earlier talks on catch-up.

1.30pm: There are some great talks lined up for the afternoon for the community, but for me, it’s back to work. Rebecca & I co-work and enjoy the awesome views over the city. I put on the CFG Day 2 livestream in the background.

We both were knackered after!

3pm: Whilst I’m 5-tabs-deep trying to figure something out in Jira, a CFG community member comes over and says she was one of my Python class students back in February, and now works in tech! Awesome. I drop my co-instructors a text to let them know.

5pm: After working through my board, it’s time to call it a day – I thank the CFG team for a great day and head to central for a celebratory drink with the panel.

So, that was my day! Here were 3 things I learned:

  1. Building communities exists online and offline. I ran into at least 5 people in-person during CodeFest that I knew through CFG, GirlCode, or other volunteering initiatives that I’m involved in.
  2. We are all working towards the same vision. The variety of talks and speakers all centred around the question of how we build for the future in a way that includes everyone – awesome.
  3. In speaking up, you affect more people than you realise! I didn’t expect such a great reaction to our panel, and it made me realise the importance of speaking up and sharing our experiences.

I had no idea what to expect from the day, but now I can safely say that I’m looking forward to my next community event already.

You can watch Code Fest Day 2: Career Booster here. I’ll also be doing a write up of some of my favourite parts of our panel!

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