In high school, I found that coding was a completely new way to express myself and connect with others by creating interactive experiences.
Also—full disclosure—at the time, I dreamed of making computer games for a living. ;-)
I've been consistently coding since 2002, and I've never used the term "hacking" to describe what I do (even when I'm at "hackathons").
Currently, I'm building Compassionate Coding to make the tech industry a friendlier place through workshops and mentoring.
As part of that effort, I'm working on a sentiment analysis project for Stack Overflow and Github comments that can handle technical language more effectively than the existing algorithms. My goal is to call attention to the toxic tone present in these communities in order to improve it. If you want to help or have ideas, I'd love to hear from you.
I'm excited that more people are coming to coding from non-traditional backgrounds. You are the future of this industry, and I'm counting on you to help make it a more compassionate one!
I'm also excited about the people who are using technology to address real social issues rather than just building another ad company or dating app.
My advice for all genders of coders and non-coders is the same: take the time to get in touch with your core values, and allow those values to guide your actions every single day. Don't allow outside forces (like peer pressure or a high paycheck or a lucrative but shady business opportunity) to shake your ethical foundation.
Forgive easily (especially yourself). 💙
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April Wensel is a veteran software engineer and technical leader who has spent the past decade building products in the education, research, healthcare, and entertainment sectors. She has also mentored and led workshops with diversity-focused organizations like Hackbright Academy and Black Girls Code. She founded Compassionate Coding in order to spread kindness and compassion throughout the developer community. When not coding or leading workshops, she enjoys running marathons and cooking vegan food—because animals deserve our compassion, too!