On February 16th, three Kansas City Women in Technology members set out on a journey from Kansas City to Omaha to help with the first ever Django Girls Omaha. This group included KCWIT’s Membership Chair, Tamara Copple, her husband Matthew Copple, and myself. What is Django Girls, you might ask? It is a weekend long workshop that helps women gain programming skills by creating a blog website using the Django framework. A framework is a set of tools used as a foundation for many applications. There’s a saying in development that you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, and using tools that developers have already built, like Django, allows you to create an application in a quick, efficient manner. Django Girls workshops have taken place all over the world and are organized by developers in each community. Django Girls Omaha was organized by three wonderful ladies: Sandi Barr, Naomi See, and Anna Ossowski.

Many workshops have an install party the Friday before the workshop officially kicks off, but Django Girls Omaha decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of having participants install Django onto their local computers, they had attendees use a program called cloud9. With Cloud9, everyone has the same development environment setup which allows the participants to focus on learning the programming material instead of getting stuck on any Mac or Windows specific installation issues. This saved a lot of time and attendees were able to get started working through the tutorial before lunch on Saturday. There was approximately a 2:1 mentor-attendee ratio at the event, with 10 coaches and 18 participants in attendance. This gave mentors the opportunity to get to know the attendees and learn why they decided to participate in the event. At my table, one of the attendees was a Computer Science major but had no experience working on a web app, while the other attendee had never written a line of code before the day of the workshop! It was a great reminder that Django Girls is an event that women from a variety of backgrounds can gain new skills from.

We had pizza for lunch and heard some excellent lightning talks about various career paths that are available in the tech industry. When most people think of programming, they think of sitting at a computer all day debugging code, but the lightning talks introduced the attendees to people like Tamara, who is a Business Analyst, working to bridge the gap between engineers and business decision makers, as well as Jeannie North, who used the tech skills she learned in code school to build a website for her business, RipleyandRue.com. Anna spoke about her job as a Developer Advocate. She travels around the world speaking at various events teaching developers about the latest tools created by her company, Elastic, and gets people excited about programming by organizing events like Django Girls workshops. She was also an attendee at the very first Django Girls event!

Would you like to attend a Django Girls event? Great news! Kansas City is having a workshop July 20th and 21st at the Sprint Accelerator. We’re looking for awesome women who want to take the next step in learning how to program by attending our super fun and FREE event. Are you familiar with programming concepts and want to get others excited about the tech industry? We would love to have you mentor at our workshop! Applications for attendees and mentors can be found at Django Girls KC. You can also email KansasCity@DjangoGirls.org with any questions you might have about Django Girls KC.

Ashley Sullins is a Web Developer and Attendee Coordinator for Django Girls KC.



Amy Norris, a graphic designer, wanted to expand her toolbelt of skills to include development. Not only did she graduate from LaunchCode’s first-ever cohort in Kansas City but she was at nearly every Coding & Cocktails class in 2016. In 2017, she became a Cocktails mentor, and late last fall, found her first full-time developer role through National Land Realty, whose CTO Ann Gaffigan is also a KCWiT member.

KCWiT: What would you like to tell other KCWiT members about interviewing for your first technical role?

Amy: Don’t panic! Speaking about technical interviews in particular, it can be as good to admit when you’re stuck on a problem as it is to get every answer right. It shows that you’re willing to admit your ignorance and ask for help.

KCWiT: Have your experiences with KCWiT helped you professionally? If so, how?

Amy: Absolutely! KCWiT introduced me to code, and introduced me to my new boss! I never would have heard about the job I have now if it weren’t for the KCWiT Slack channel.

You can connect with Amy at Linkedin.com/in/norrisamy or give her a shout out on Slack!




From web development, to design, to fulfilling business objectives; Kansas City Women in Technology’s TechTalks bring women from across all professional technology roles together to network, share career advice, and to connect. Whether you have been working in a technology field for years or are a technology enthusiast, TechTalks are opportunities to learn and grow.

Our first TechTalk of 2018 is coming up Wednesday, January 17, at Google Fiber Space in Westport. This kickoff event presents an overview of all KCWiT programs, panels, and other events of 2017 along with a preview of what we have coming up in 2018. Read below to discover our September 2017 TechTalk which covered the area of user experience design.

Tech Panel Explores User Experience Design

Enhancing development projects to drive sales and to engage users with ease of usability and conveniences. This intersection of marketing, design, and development form the practice of user experience design and the topic of our September TechTalk with the Kansas City chapter of UXPA.

A panel of six local technology professionals discussed the diverse aspects of user experience design with TechTalk attendees during a Q&A session at the Federal Reserve Bank. The panel comprised of women working in a variety of technical roles with local Kansas City companies like Cerner, VML, Useagility, and Ziv. The panel discussed user experience design in regards to cognitive psychology, user profile creation, working with clients, and beyond.


Being multifaceted, working in user experience design is arrived at from many different paths.

To those looking to get into (or at least explore) user experience design, Leah Sand, associate director of content systems at VML, suggests this:

“Find a digital product or experience that you like and could make better and then make it better,” said Sand. “Take screenshots to show it was ‘this’ and now it’s ‘this’ then put that in your portfolio. Don’t wait for permission, make your own opportunities.”

If you’re interested in becoming more involved with other technology professionals, learning to use various forms of technology in your profession, or simply enjoy a night out, mark your calendars for our upcoming TechTalks. Register on our Eventbrite page for our January 2018 session.



Jen MillerJen Miller, an alumni of both Coding & Cocktails and LaunchCode, got her fresh start at Myers and Stauffer recently, where she is now a developer. We caught up with her not long after she started to ask her about the technical interview process.

KC Women in Tech: What would you like to tell other KC Women in Tech members about interviewing for your first technical role?

Jennifer: Don’t panic and don’t shut down. They gave me a 4 page code test with a 20 minute time limit, which was nowhere near long enough for a junior developer to take this test. Some of the questions were quite vague. Both of those were on purpose, to see how I handled the stress and uncertainty. Then they reviewed it in front of me and questioned my answers… to see how I handled criticism and correction. So keep your cool, and ask for feedback if you are in a situation like this – worst case, the feedback will help you in your next interview. Best case, you can demonstrate that you DO understand a concept where the interviewer was questioning your abilities. I also recommend following up with a Thank You note. It’s another opportunity to get your name in front of the decision makers, and if you noticed an area where your answer wasn’t the best, you can craft an answer addressing that area. In my case, I found an online class that covers a topic that I struggled with, and I mentioned that I was taking the class to help fill the gap in my knowledge.

KC Women in Tech: Have your experiences with KC Women in Technology helped you professionally? If so, how?

Jennifer: Of course they have! Going to Coding and Cocktails has been a great confidence booster, gave me a starting point for several topics that I have had zero experience with, and helped me with buzzword bingo – all of those acronyms and software package names that people in the industry just expect that everyone knows.

You can connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn



Melanie GarveyMy road to code is not short nor straight for that matter. Being a Gen X’er I did not grow up with the internet we know today so I’m not a web developer that can say, “at age nine I made my first website.” Instead, I was the alien daughter of an engineer and a programmer that flourished in liberal arts. After graduating college, I spent fifteen years working at advertising agencies and three pivotal events unfolded during that time period that would tip my world into a 180 spin.

First, the internet fundamentally changed how we consume media.

Then the Great Recession cut all of the corporate fat and the ad industry really did not ever bounce back.

And finally, the last blow was when my father passed away. All of this occurred in that exact same order over these fifteen years, and by the end I found myself wondering why I was in a career that I did not believe in and was struggling to keep.

I will say that most people don’t know that what tipped the scales for me was due to the loss of a parent, but it is not something you casually mention in your career change elevator pitch. However, when a loved one passes away it makes you prioritize what is important.

For me that meant that life is too precious to spend it doing something that you are not passionate about M-F which is where Coding & Cocktails entered the picture.tipping point and turning point

My interest in web development started with a movie blog and some Codecademy tutorials but my curiosity did not end there; and through my search I found Coding & Cocktails.

At my first Coding & Cocktails session in February of 2016 I realized that this hobby could be a career. This discovery was significant because all of my life my interests did not translate into a career. However, now those two were finally converging via web development. Additionally, at that first session I learned that at least half of the women there did not have a traditional computer science background.

In other words, it was not too late for me to pursue a career as a web developer.

Fast forward to now, the summer of 2017, and my world has once again done a complete 180.

I quit my dreaded ad job and am a full time student in pursuit of an associates degree in web development with a graduation date of May 2018. I feel useful, valued, excited, and confident about my future as a web developer because I’ll be doing something that I not only enjoy, but that people actually need.

I guess you could sum it up by saying that the tipping point for me was when my dad passed away, but the turning point was that blistery cold winter night when a dozen or so women ditched their weekend plans to come teach me at that first Coding & Cocktails session.

by Melanie Garvey



Kelsey Leftwich may live in Tennessee, but she remains dedicated to Kansas City Women in Technology and its programs like Django Girls KC.

Kelsey LeftwichWhile Leftwich is originally from Kansas City and she attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City, she moved to Tennessee about a year ago, where her husband is attending graduate school. However, Leftwich is back in town this summer as her husband completes an internship at Saint Luke’s Hospital over the summer – and she jumped at the opportunity to mentor again for Django Girls KC.

“I feel like Kansas City is the best place to be a woman in technology and a big part of that is the KCWiT community,” Leftwich said.

Leftwich works as a software systems developer. She works closely with clients and subject-matter experts at her firm, where she develops software systems for businesses. The firm is made up a small, core group of people, and Leftwich is the only consultant whose focus is technology.

“I get to wear a lot of hats like server administrator, database architect, and ColdFusion developer,” she said.

Django Girls is a free, one-day programming workshop that connects women and girls with resources necessary to build their first web application using HTML, CSS, Python, and Django. While applications are now closed for the 2017 Django Girls Kansas City event, you can learn more about the event online, as well as see the complete list of organizers and coaches.

How did your interest in coding begin?
When I was in grade school, I borrowed a videotape from the library and learned how to make rudimentary HTML websites using Microsoft Notepad. Like a lot of people, I had a bit of coding experience personalizing my Xanga. (Social media sure has come a long way!) When I went to college, I decided to take a programming class and fell in love with programming through Python. I got a bachelor’s in Information Technology from UMKC and work as a software systems developer for a consulting firm.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
My work requires me to think about resources and how they are organized and connected. I know from experience detailed implementation is important but so is viewing the larger system as a whole.

I also think that part of the programmer culture is to seek out the best tools and avoid excessive or redundant work. I try to think about optimizing other areas of my life in the same way. It can be as simple as organizing my kitchen and meal prep or as complicated as organizing a community event.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Working on a really interesting project and getting into a programming flow state – hours fly by!

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
I am the only consultant in my firm with a technical focus. It can feel isolating, especially since we all work from home and are far flung. Finding communities like KCWiT has been really important for me.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
I learned a lot watching Lynda.com videos and working through their courses. It benefited me to try a lot of different programming languages and put hours into coding and probably more importantly debugging.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
There is creativity and craftsmanship that goes into making quality products. There is an artfulness to software development that non-developers might not be aware of. I take a lot of pride in making products that are functional, efficient, and maintainable.

How do you envision STEM continuing to evolve into our daily lives?
I’d love to see more interdisciplinary dialogue. We all have a lot to teach and a lot to learn. I think STEM professionals can bring a valuable set of skills to the table.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.

 



The academic path that ultimately led Annie Ingham to pursue a career in computer science begins at the University of Kansas with studies in economics, German, and international relations.Annie Ingham

Upon graduating from KU in 2006, Ingham said she considered attending law school or studying economics in graduate school. “It’s funny because at that time, I doubted my math ability,” Ingham said, smiling. Instead, out of college, Ingham worked professionally on research projects, in addition to teaching elementary school. It was her move from Kansas City to New York in her 20s that allowed her time for “soul searching, as far as career choices go.”

While living in New York in 2013, Ingham worked as an administrative assistant, which gave her the time to learn computer science and coding on the side, in the evenings, and on the subway. The MIT OpenCourseWare Introduction to Computer Science course, Ingham said, became the course that helped her the most, as she bought the textbook and watched the videos, which introduced her to Python. She also studied front-end web development at General Assembly.

By 2014, Ingham practiced fundamental web development skills at Startup Institute, and soon after started a three-month internship at Reelio in New York. That internship then turned into a full-time role as a full stack web developer. Today, Ingham works as a software engineer at a web security startup.

This summer, Ingham is preparing for her third time mentoring at Django Girls, a free, one-day programming workshop that connects women and girls with resources necessary to build their first web application using HTML, CSS, Python, and Django. Prior to moving back to Kansas City in 2016, she mentored at the Django Girls event in New York City. She moved back to Kansas City in time to mentor for the summer 2016 event. The level of enthusiasm and organization of volunteers and the attendees “made it such a fun experience, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to miss out on this again,’” Ingham said of her continued involvement.

While applications are now closed for the 2017 Django Girls Kansas City event, you can learn more about the event online, as well as see the complete list of organizers and coaches.

How did your interest in coding begin?
When I was a lot younger, I loved to play on the computer, but then there’s a big gap when other things seemed more important at that time. What piqued my interest again was that I was working for a professor, and they needed someone to update the website. They sent me to a free HTML course, and I made three, incredibly basic updates. That’s when I realized it was possible to do, and I didn’t do anything with it for 10 years. In New York, then, I was reflecting back on what it was that I enjoyed about all the jobs that I enjoyed. I liked the analytical aspects and the critical-thinking aspects, as well as that it was ever-changing. I liked the flexibility that it could provide – you’re in demand, so you have a lot more options that way.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
The most immediate application that I can think of is spinning up websites for friends and family. That’s a fun hobby, too, and it’s something I enjoy. It’s a little more creative, too, than the backend development.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love what I do, and I love the company that I work for and the people I work with. What I enjoy the most is when you’ve been working on a problem for a long time, and you get a solution, and it works. I enjoy that good feeling of being able to solve a problem.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
Right now, my big goal is to advance to a more senior level and to constantly evolve my skillset. Sometimes, it’s hard. For me personally, it’s making sure that I am setting realistic expectations for myself, and not growing complacent with where I am, but not getting too frustrated with where I am, either.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
I would say, “Do it,” first of all. Don’t be afraid to take baby steps and verify that you enjoy this. Go into it with an open-minded. Try a little bit of everything, and then focus on what you like. And, don’t be intimidated. Deep down, so many people are willing to help, if you’re willing to ask.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
It’s a very diverse field. There’s no one person or type of person who embodies what a software engineer is. And, it’s open to everybody, and I like that. The more, the merrier.

How do you envision STEM continuing to evolve into our daily lives?
I think if you just look at how things have changed in the last 10 years, and how we were with cellphone usage and Internet usage, and how now you can’t go an hour without checking your email or something on a website, I think it’s only going to continue to accelerate.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.

 



JavaScript is everywhere. This is something that I already somewhat understood prior to attending Coding & Cocktails on Saturday, June 10. After attending part one of the two-part Programming Concepts series, though, I can now see how JavaScript is a driving force behind one of my favorite web-based activities: Reading as many news websites as possible online, particularly The New York Times.

One of my favorite aspects of The New York Times homepage is its simplicity paired with elegance. The homepage also mirrors closely the very traditional sense of The Times’ ink-based front page. Prior to digging into the session’s worksheet on June 10, I asked Coding & Cocktails’ Curriculum Director Kayla Hennegin to walk me through the different elements of the The Times’ homepage, so I could get a sense of what features are driven through HTML, CSS, and finally, JavaScript. Kayla also showed me how it is possible to turn off JavaScript in Google Chrome, which I did not previously know was possible.

As I progressed through the evening’s worksheet, I quickly realized how closely HTML and CSS work alongside JavaScript. I appreciate how Coding & Cocktails is structured to where you can join at any session throughout the course of the year-long curriculum, but I wish I hadn’t missed out on the introductory HTML and CSS sessions in January and February. I’ll definitely be picking them back up on the next go-around.

Lastly, a great deal of camaraderie took place at my second-ever session of Coding & Cocktails. At the PC table, I sat near two brand-new, first-time participants who had first learned about Kansas City Women in Technology via social media, and they thought it would be great to give it a try. I also saw several familiar faces of participants from my first session in May, and it made me feel at ease to see the loyal dedication of other coding newbies like myself.

My favorite experience of the evening came when I looked up from my laptop, and I saw a participant sitting at the Mac table with a Vu Le sticker on her computer. I instantly had to go over and speak with her – it is always great to meet another fan of Vu Le (pronounced “voo LAY”), who is somewhat of a celebrity in the nonprofit organization community. (He is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.) The participant, too, had attended his talk for Nonprofit Connect this January when he was in Kansas City. I briefly shared the experience on Twitter, and Vu was pleased and said that he felt encouragement.

July will be yet another busy coding-immersive month for me. Programming Concepts 102: A deeper dive into JavaScript is set for Saturday, July 8, and I am looking forward to building upon what we learned in June. The July TechTalk on Wednesday, July 12, is a joint meetup with KCWiT and Kansas City’s PHP User Group. While I know practically next-to-nothing about PHP, it will be exciting to learn more, as well as to see the beautiful facilities at Stowers Institute where my best friend works as a postdoc fellow. And finally, I am pleased to say that I was selected to participate in KC Django Girls on July 21 and 22. I am ready to learn more about Django and Python, as well as meet other girls and women who sharing my love for a growing knowledge of technology and its applicability in our daily lives. Without Kansas City Women in Technology, I’m not sure how else these opportunities would be available for me at this juncture in my life.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


Not too long ago, my best friend surprised me with a small, chunky notebook similar to the first one I had as a child that developed my love for notetaking and journaling. On the very first page, I scribbled two sayings that I’ve somewhat recently adopted as my adulthood mantras: “Start where you are,” and similarly, “Wherever you are, you’re in the right place to begin.” I love the applicability of these quotations toward my evolving appreciation for computer science and all that it entails.

I was unsure of what exactly I should expect ahead of my first attendance at Coding & Cocktails on Saturday, May 13. Alongside an improvement in my overall patience, I am learning to let go of predisposition while heading into a new experience or skillset, especially if it involves math or science instead of my natural strengths in the arts. I did know, though, that my participation in Coding & Cocktails was seemingly long overdue.

First, a little history is in order for why I am involved with Kansas City Women in Technology in the first place: A year ago, Alex Peak Turley, a college friend of mine for 10 years and the co-chair of KCWiT’s then-newly formed Marketing and Communications Committee, put a callout for committee members. I quickly volunteered for the committee because of its natural fit among both my long-standing and ever-evolving interests: I graduated in journalism and mass communications, and I was a professional newspaper reporter for five years, so I knew those skills would transfer well in profiling mentors and leadership on KCWiT’s blog. My husband also is a software engineer, and his passion and dedication to computer science has reignited my own interest in technology that began in childhood. Lastly, my interest in KCWiT has grown throughout the past year because of its 501 (c)(3), nonprofit organization status, and my current pursuit of a Master of Public Administration, with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The older I become, especially as I turned 30 a year-and-a-half ago, the more I am gravitating back toward the interests that held my loyal and unwavering devotion as a child. One of those childhood interests included spending hours alone at the computer, tinkering with word-command games or very elementary word processing programs on MS-DOS, and later, Windows 95. Although other participants and a solid core of helpful mentors were in attendance at May’s Introduction to Front-End Architecture, I also felt that same sense of independence and ability to try (and fail – and try again!) things on my own that I experienced as a 10 year old.

I feel encouragement because of the challenging content that was presented as part of the Introduction to Front-End Architecture, and I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a coding-filled summer for me. In June, I will attend Coding & Cocktails once again, where Programming Concepts 101 will incorporate JavaScript and jQuery, why they are important to front-end developers, and how to incorporate them into websites. The following week, Julie Stark will speak at the June TechTalk about her experiences at the first Django Girls KC workshop and her experiences with Python.

The July Coding & Cocktails theme of Programming Concepts 102 will allow a deeper dive into JavaScript, building upon lessons learned in June’s session. These two summer months offer a lot of excitement for a newbie like myself, but most of my anticipation lies ahead with my application to attend Django Girls in Kansas City. If I am accepted (applications close on May 26), I will have the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop geared specifically toward beginners who crave even further introduction to coding and programming.

Part of attending continuing education of any kind is starting where you are, learning what you can in a moment, and building from there. Alongside studying Python, R, and HTML independently on Coursera, attending Coding & Cocktails does not have a specific end goal or finish date in mind; I simply want to continue to build these skillsets, and hopefully, mentor others at some point. I am starting where I am, with the understanding that it is the right place to begin.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


Eric Poe started attending CoderDojo KC during its second session, and since November 2013, he has remained an active volunteer. Today, as Director of Curriculum, Poe said he enjoys seeing the children learn and seeing “the light bulbs” come on in their early development work, as well as his own networking with other mentors.

Mentor Profile_Eric Poe (CoderDojoKC)“I enjoy seeing the kids work hard to learn something, build something out of it, and then present it after three hours,” he said. “Seeing the joy of the kids as they show off their hard work is what kept me coming back.”

Poe has worked as a Programmer Analyst for three years at Stowers Institute in Kansas City, and previously, he worked for 15 years in a public school district as a manager of information technology. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2012, as he studies in the evenings while working full-time during the day.

Poe’s hobbies outside of work and CoderDojo KC include spending time with his family, watching Kung fu movies, and studying. “I try to devote at least an hour per night of studying various topics: usually programming, but I also work on studying foreign languages,” said Poe, who also is an organizer of Kansas City’s PHP User Group.

How did your interest in coding begin?
My grandfather sent me a book on BASIC when I was a teenager. He thought it would be cool if I became a developer. I read it. I did a few things. I took a class on it in high school, and I couldn’t really see myself becoming a developer. A long time later, I started doing tech support for Gateway 2000 and learned about the Bachelor of Information Technology program at UMKC. I thought that would be a good fit for me. I went into that hoping to get more information technology knowledge, but mainly, it was just a programming thing. At some point, during that degree program, I started to enjoy the programming side of it and the challenges that it provided.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
I have recently started going to conferences as a speaker. So, that has certainly helped.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy having big problems that we can then divide into smaller problems and divide among the team. I enjoy it when people appreciate using the tools that I built for them. I enjoy the social aspects of programming, as well.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
Figuring what people are asking for when they are asking for something – their ideas change as the project becomes more mature. It’s challenging, but I also enjoy it; it’s all the same.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
It’s OK, to try out something, but once you’ve decided to do it, go all in. Learn what you need to to get the job done, but also learn much more. I didn’t start enjoying programming until I dove into my studies and learned the whys and the whats, which allowed me to play with the code with a deeper understanding. Also, attend a local user group that deals with that topic – there you can learn from others, ask questions, and discover neat things about the topic you’re learning.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
It is a social activity. I think the lone the developer in mom’s basement is a myth, or rather, an outlier rather than the rule. In writing code, you’re writing it more for other people to read rather than just for the computer. The computer understands it, but it’s secondary.

How do you envision STEM continuing to evolve into our daily lives?
I think STEM, by itself, is not all that interesting, without the arts coming into play. I like to think of it more as STEAM, rather than STEM. Science is great, but science without playing or without imagination, doesn’t go very far.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


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