2019 is the year I became a coder. Nowadays, I have projects I’m continuously working on, I can join others in hackathons, I can answer questions about algorithms, and I get to meet new people interested in the same tech as me all the time. However, getting to this point was a struggle for which I needed help. Thankfully, there are people that want to help the LGBTQ+ community get into tech.
I couldn’t have started this journey without the help of organizations that believe in making the future of tech be more diverse. I have to thank the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship from Lesbians who Tech and the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy. Their commitment to providing safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students to explore tech careers is crucial for the development of professionals who need help getting their foot in the door.
My time at Grace Hopper Program was exciting, nerve-wracking and fun. In the Junior phase, we mostly took lectures and then completed workshops in pairs. You get paired up with someone new every day. At first, I was shocked. Pair programming?! With strangers?!?!?!?! No, thanks. However, it quickly turned out to be one of the best parts of the program. Getting to know the work styles of everyone there really put into perspective how different we can all be, and you end up picking up new ways of approaching challenges because of other's perspectives.
Most of the time spent in Senior phase was split between three sorts of activities: projects, lectures about computer science, and career success. In the projects, we were able to experience first hand how agile software development works and experiment with the skills we learned in Junior phase. In the lectures, we focused on algorithms and data structures. And lastly, during career success we discussed how to achieve positive outcomes from the job hunt after the program. Having said that, the part I was most nervous about was weekly coding challenges in which we did technical interviews to fellow cohort mates and in return they interview you on another day. It was stressful to display your knowledge and struggles in front of another person, but every week felt a little more comfortable than the last.
The amount of support and love I received from my cohort is something I will cherish forever. The kindness with which people helped each other, no matter the complexity, made all the difference when I felt lost. Coming in with a non-technical background, I was afraid of falling behind and being shamed for it. However, my colleagues were always there for support and would never belittle anyone’s questions.
However, some of my biggest struggles in the bootcamp weren’t coding related. One of my issues was making sure that people actually included GNC and non-binary people in a mostly female coded space. So on that note, I’d like to give advice to other non-binary people navigating “woman and non-binary” spaces: don’t give up. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re here to stay. If you want to talk to other non-binary tech people, we exist and we're here for you.
Learning how to code has been life-changing, and I’m excited to see what I’m able to create alongside other fantastic coders. I’m grateful to have met so many people who want to see their colleagues grow, and can’t wait to keep meeting new people with exciting ideas.