Nevertheless, Katie Coded

katnel20 profile image Katie Nelson Updated on ・4 min read

My story so far…

Well, you can see from my profile how young I am, so this should be short. 😊 About 4 years ago I was in my room one day (bored most likely) and was surfing the web looking at clothing sites. I forget exactly which one it was, probably Forever 21, when I came across a page that did not render correctly in my browser. I though it was my computer, but I really wanted to make that page work for me. I Googled around and found by pressing F12, I opened up "Developer Mode".

What was all this stuff I was looking at? I probably spent a couple of hours looking at the source code and got my first exposure to HTML and CSS. By some miracle, I changed some of the CSS and OMG!!, the page suddenly looked right!
I of course thought I had changed the code on their server and got a real shock when I refreshed the screen and it was bad again.

That was my introduction to coding and something about it fascinated me to read more and start saving things to my hard drive. I made some very crude looking web pages (design is not my forte), but I got into the logical aspect of it and taught myself basic web coding.

Of course, I wanted my pages to be more flashy and that's how I came across JavaScript. Boy, what a leap that was. Ifs and loops and functions and callbacks; I gave up on it for a couple of weeks, but it kept calling me back. Take it slow... learn one piece at a time... be an expert on this one function... move on to another one.

Front to Back-end...

At some point I read about Java and initially thought it was the same as JavaScript. Then, I downloaded Eclipse and entered the world of IDEs. I built a couple of very simple Windows applications and experimented with layout managers and putting all kinds of controls up in a window. It was like moving to another country. Java and JavaScript looked similar, but I realized web programming and desktop application programming were as different as cats and dogs.

When I started high school, I saw they had a student run website and poked my head in one afternoon to see how an entire site was put together. When the club adviser heard that I knew HTML & CSS, he encourage me to help out. When he found out I knew JavaScript, he dumped more responsibility on me.

Trouble fitting in...

I found out the first week that I was the only girl in the club. The more senior boys looked down on me and didn't make any effort to help me out. It didn't help that I streamlined a chunk of code to run more efficiently (I quickly found out that one of those boys had written the original code). They would keep to themselves and I'm sure I heard them make foul remarks about me.

A couple of bad remarks later, I had enough and went to the club adviser and told him I was done. My first "job" and I was quitting it. He took me into his office and said that the others felt threatened by me because as a freshman, I was already better than them at coding. I got the idea in my head that this would be what I could expect if I entered the real world of coding for a living. I convinced myself that it's a fun hobby, but I should find something else that makes me happy (like clothes shopping 😊 don't get me started on that!).

The teacher asked me if I was interested in helping him out on the back-end. It uses ASP.NET MVC and a MySQL database. Suddenly, I had another world to explore. None of the students ever did back-end work and I would not have to interact with the boys as much. I went home, downloaded Visual Studio and taught myself C# .NET framework.
I made the same desktop apps using .NET as I had done the year before in Java AWT. It wasn't too difficult and got comfortable with a new IDE and it's project structure. There were DLLs instead of JAR files and binding them all together took some time, but I agreed to be the back-end person.

SQL was another hurdle along with Entity Framework. I'm no expert, but I know how to use the tools (like builders and debuggers) to get by.

Like I said at the start of this post, my story is a short one. My next big decision will be what to major in when I apply for college. Do I go the Computer Science route and spend 4 years in classes learning stuff I might already know? What will the male/female ratio be for that major? How are the women treated? All to be decided.

I’m an expert at…

As previously stated, I don't feel I'm an expert in any one subject. I can say that I know a little bit about a lot of different technologies. However, as time goes on, the number of things to know about seems to grow faster than I can keep up with. I'd like to learn some of the ES6 frameworks like Vue, React and Angular. Then there's .NET Core, SQL Server, Docker and all those pieces too.

When my head gets too full of coding options, I go to the mall to clear it all out. It's my break from hi-tech and an opportunity to window shop!

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katnel20 profile

Katie Nelson


Welcome tag moderator AKA Unofficial DEV cheerleader. While most of my friends are found on SnapChat or Tic-Toc, you can find me here. And I OOP, but I’m not a VSCO girl.


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Amazing, just amazing. Question though, I'm kind of you except a guy, in 9th grade, and in Canada. Any advise for learning java? I haven't been having the greatest time learning it. Probably because I learnt, python, then ruby, then crystal, then javascript html and css, before java.


Start small and build up to more complex or graphical apps. Use an IDE where you can step through the code line-by-line as you watch variable values and program flow change.


"Take it slow... learn one piece at a time... be an expert on this one function... move on to another one." — seriously awesome advice here (says the person who doesn't code 😊).

Just to say that you're journey is awesome and inspiring! It's totally frustrating that you didn't get the respect you deserve from the guys in the coding club, but also really cool to hear that you're pushing onward with it and helping to better the landscape for all software devs & folks in the industry.

Wish the best for you!


Thanks so much Michael. I’m hoping that some of the others can help me decide which way to go in deciding a career.


I can't speak for Computer Science everywhere, but I think you should go for it if you are interested. Even for someone who already knows a lot there is still a lot to learn. The first few classes may be a bit boring, but that just leaves more freetime to learn on your own. There will probably be lots of theoretical classes too, and math.

As for the gender ratio, my class started out with 80 students, of which there were 8 girls. However halfway through the degree now we're down to ~40 students, but only one girl has dropped out. I haven't seen any kind of discrimination against the girls in my class, but since a I'm a guy I can't say for sure.


You have such an amazing story! Talking about college, I think that the most important things you will learn are not just about new languages or technical stuff, but is mostly about the people, points of view you will meet and the experiences you will have. College can also teach you important soft skills for life and new ways to understand the world. :)


Thanks so much Ana. College is definitely in my future. Its more on what my major should be. Coding will always be a part of me, but is it what I should concentrate in, or just use it as a tool to support other interests?

Here, they tell us "when you go off to college, you can re-invent yourself". I'm just not sure what the "re-invented me" looks like yet.


Humm, I understand. I think this part of re-invent yourself can occurs anytime of your life, for different reasons and aspects. But if you still have questions about what to do in your major, you could try to do different things and discover what you like to do the most. Because coding is the great tool for your future, that you already have. :)


I started with JavaScript web development too and later switched to Java and now I'm getting stuck in with native code with Objective-C and C++ so I'd recommend having a go at it - I'm finding it a lot of fun because you get to learn a lot about how computers operate and function.

But if you're looking at JS frameworks, I'd definitely recommend Vue!

I'm also looking around colleges at the moment and I've seen a maybe 30%-70% split female to male for Computer Science (in the UK).


Thanks Sam. Vue is on the list.


As someone who has coded for 15 years, and has managed at times, it's people like you the industry is always desperate for.

Stay curious and see every project and task as an opportunity to learn not just the mechanics, but the concepts behind the mechanics, and you'll do fine.

It's a rare person who has your outlook and drive.

Also, if you've caught the coding bug, you'll find yourself there regardless of your major. It's just a place you find yourself in. I was a psychology major with lots of learning in linguistics and French, and here I am a professional coder doing what I love!


Lovely and Brave Story.

You should document your journey and use it to inspire people to join the development world.

Keep Going


You are a expert at cheering up !!!


Thanks Pati, that does help. You are a great supporter!


Thanks for sharing your story. Good luck moving forward with your career!!!


After reading this, I feel like you can be a writer too. All the best Katie!! :)


Thanks Sushma, you're so sweet to say that.


Generalists are much needed and valued too! Thanks for sharing your story Katie!


I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a generalist. Thanks Amara, something new to research.


Great story, fast learner, brave & fearless. Yes there will always be "haters" or people who feel threatened, that's their problem not yours ;-) keep rocking!


Thank you for sharing this. I find your journey (so far) very inspiring. Whatever you decide to do next, you’re going to do great!


Thanks for the encouragement Jeremy.