How a weekend crash course helped me 'Spring into Code'

By: Hayley Hinsley

Tags:

  • springintocode
  • girlsintech
  • geekgirlmeetup
  • generalassembly

I have always been an early bird but even for me, there aren’t many things that I am happy to wake up at 6.30 on the weekend for, other than swimming or going on holiday. However, after attending ‘Spring into Code’ during the last weekend in April, I can safely say that I have changed my mind.

Coming from a project management background I am new to Scrum and the role of ScrumMaster. I thought it would be beneficial to both myself and my team if I had a basic understanding of code to help me keep up to speed with the work being done around me. Being able to identify blockers before they get to the developers and QA’s is invaluable in keeping us efficient. Having this extra knowledge also means I will be in a better position to assist my team where needed with QA or basic code reviews.

Girls in Tech, Geek Girl Meetup and General Assembly teamed up to give 100 women, including myself, a crash course in learning to code. Arriving at Twitter HQ in Piccadilly Circus on Saturday morning, I was nervous about what was in store for me as a novice coder but I really shouldn’t have been.

Day 1

Our first day started with breakfast and an introduction to the hosts and event sponsors: Twitter, Moo and ourselves. We were then ready to begin our coding journey, starting with learning the difference between front and back end development. Moving into some hands on work, Winna our instructor, took us through the basics of HTML, CSS and how the web pages are displayed in browsers.

We started off slow by creating some basic web pages with nothing but a few words. We realised the morning had flown by when lunch suddenly arrived and everyone began to compare notes on how we’d all found the morning’s activities. Over lunch we had a panel of four inspirational speakers talking us through their very different journeys through development and the technology sector as a whole.

After lunch we continued with HTML and CSS and before we knew it, we had each created a basic, but fully functional, locally hosted web page. We had everything a novice front end developer could dream of on their first web page - text, images, links, styling, we even experimented using different layouts.

By the end of the day we were all pretty happy with ourselves and what we had accomplished, especially considering a few hours ago most of us couldn’t even tell you what HTML stood for.

To celebrate the end of a successful day, we got to know our fellow coders over beer, wine and nibbles.

Sunday morning arrived and I found myself on a very busy, early train full of London marathon runners and observers. Arriving back at Twitter HQ we got off to another great start with breakfast and an overview of what we would be covering that day: JavaScript and jQuery.

Day 2

It soon became clear that we were now in at the deep end. I won’t pretend I understood everything as well as I did on Saturday however this meant I had more ‘Eureka’ moments when the puzzle pieces did fit together. Luckily I was sat next to a lady who had a great eye for spotting my missing semicolons, periods and brackets when things went wrong! Before we knew it, lunch had arrived along with a new panel of speakers ready for their eagerly awaiting audience. We heard four more stories about the different ways of getting into tech whether that be as a developer, project manager or consultant.

The panel session soon ended and we were in the home stretch of our crash course in coding. After a re-cap of the mornings lessons, we got stuck back into making our websites interactive and engaging. Before long, we had created ourselves a working locally hosted web page with enticingly well laid out content, rotating images, interactive check-lists and special styling effects (who knew making words ‘buzz’ on the page could be so fun!).

They say that time flies when you’re having fun and I can definitely vouch for this as suddenly we were very near the end of the day and the course! The only thing left for us to do was give ourselves, and our hosts, a big round of applause and sit back to admire the product of our hard work.

Final Thoughts

General Assembly’s teaching approach was quite full on but I personally found it worked really well especially in the limited time frame we had available. Everybody kept up and anybody who did fall behind slightly or came across any issues were quickly helped and brought back up to speed by one of the assistants available.

Overall a really great, informative and fun weekend was had and a spark was definitely lit in a lot of attendees minds. A show of hands at the end of the course showed around a dozen women who now had a strong interest in becoming developers. The majority of attendees signed up for the course simply to gain a better insight into development, in order to improve their knowledge on the technology sector as well as their careers within it. I can safely say that everyone, including myself, left satisfied that they had achieved this.


About the Author

Hayley Hinsley