I class the start of my WiT journey to be when I started my Computer Science GCSEs (qualifications you take in the UK when you are 14-16). That means that, at the time of writing, I am about to start my 7th year as a WiT!
I attended an all-girls, Catholic, state school in the North East of England, and given that school description you may be surprised to hear that I had the opportunity to take a Computer Science GCSE; I was too! Luckily, the staff at my school so the benefit of the Computer Science GCSE, something I will always be grateful for. More surprisingly to me, my school (I stayed on to the Sixth Form) allowed me to take a Computer Science A-level even though only 4 of us were going to the do AS, and only 2 of us would take the full A level.
I am now at Durham University studying Computer Science. I wasn't sure where I specifically wanted to take my career when I was applying to uni, so I chose to do a general computer science course to give me that breadth of knowledge. I am about to start my fourth year (I'm on an MEng integrated Masters, rather than a 3 year BSc).
I am a big believer in finding other areas to exercise your passions. I've found that when I've solely focussed on "normal" education I end up getting bored or start to lose interest.
I love volunteering. I often find opportunities to volunteer, whether it be for tech or other things, but for this post I will talk about those that relate to tech.
Firstly, if you are at a UK university they will most likely be volunteering opportunities within your department. I have helped out at many department open days, and I've found that they are great for meeting more people in your department.
At my university you can also work to help support the younger years in their labs. Not only are you getting the satisfaction of helping your peers, but (at least at Durham) you can get paid for it too!
Another way in which I have volunteered over the years is through Coderdojo. If you haven't heard of Coderdojo, it's basically an organisation that puts on free coding clubs, often once a month, for children in a given geographical area. Coderdojo is probably my favourite form of volunteering I take part in as the repeated running allows me to really see the children develop, which just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
There are also one-off opportunity to volunteer at events. Usually they are to support the running of an event, and often come with some sort of benefit such as free swag, discounted/free tickets to the event the following year. Often you can still get a lot from an event while volunteering for it, so always have a look at the website or email the organisers.
Following on from volunteering at events, you can also just attend them! There are for too many events happening for me to list them all, so I will just list some of my favourite, along with groups that put on many events.
- Grace Hopper Celebration
- BCS Women Lovelace Colloquim
- BCS in general put on a lot of events
- Your uni computing society (mine is DU CompSoc)
- A hackathon (mine is DurHack)
- To find a hackathon you can look at MLH
You may have heard of 'learning in public'. This is the idea that instead of learning privately and keeping your resources to yourself, you talk about the learning process, share resources you've found or made and generally make the learning process public. If you want to find out more about this there is a learninpublic tag here on Dev.
I personally love the idea of learning in public; it shows people that it's ok to not know something, it's ok to need help and it's ok to help others learn (as Lin-Manuel Miranda so perfectly put it 'the world is wide enough').
I would love to have a similar initiative for women in tech. From my experience being a WiT, talking to other WiT and running WiT groups, seeing and hearing from other women can make a massive difference to our perception of ourselves and out place in the tech industry.