On the 27th of April, 60 young girls from Nima, Newtown and its environs gathered at the Community Youth Cultural Centre, Kawukudi to celebrate International Girls in ICT Day a program organized by GirlyTech Ghana.
To mark the day, GirlyTech took the young girls through various talks on the need to have more girls in ICT, after which there was an ICT clinic session, where the girls were taken through practical sessions which include scratch programming and the use of ardiuno. I gladly helped some of them debug their codes. After the girls were put into groups, they were made to identify various problems in the society and how they could use technology to solve them.
PyLadiesGhana was invited to the program to give a talk on the topic ‘Starting out as a Newbie in Programming’, and I was privileged to represent the community. I shared with the girls various tips to making their coding journey less stressful and more interesting and I thought readers out there maybe interested too.
First of all, when starting this journey try answering the question ‘why’. Why am I doing this? Do I want to learn a new skill or I want to solve a problem in the society. Once you find an answer to this question you are good to go. This is because when the going gets tough it’s your why that will keep you going.
Then you move on to finding your interests, in this technology field there are various areas you can venture into. Thus you need to find what interest you most. There is data science, web development, machine learning, artificial intelligence etc, find your area and venture into. For example, one may be fascinated by the use of the data and the power of data thus venturing into data science might be the best for you.
After finding your interest, start making use of online resources. There are tons of resources on the internet which will make this coding journey more practical and understandable. This include Udacity, Real Python and freeCodeCamp. If you're finding some difficulty in your code, make use of search engines such as Google.
This journey can be sometimes really stressful, thus there is a need to join tech communities. In these communities you will find like minded people like you which gives you a sense of ‘I am not alone in this’. These communities include people from all ranges, starting from beginners, intermediate and advanced learners all willing to make your journey worth it. Most of these communities have outreaches through meetups, tutorial sessions etc. Also there is a high possibility of finding mentors who will guide you through the journey. PyLadies Ghana is an example of a Tech Community that provides mentorship to women in the open source community.
Also, to make sense out of what you are learning, you have to practice what we call ‘learn while building’. This approach will make you enjoy this journey and make you understand better what you learn. For example, if you are into web development and learn about how to us the <h> tags or how to insert an image in html push yourself to create a simple profile page. This will help you understand and appreciate what you are learning.
Lastly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This is the only way you can be a master at what you are learning.
My experience with these young girls was amazing and I hope this piece will also help the newbies out there in their journey of coding.
This blog was written by Vanessa Otchere, a Tech entrepreneur and a Data Enthusiast.