“Who here is currently working as a business analyst?” The panel asked the audience.

A handful of about 100 attendees raised their hand during our September TechTalk, What is a BA? at the Helzberg Auditorium at the Kansas City Public Library-Central branch.

“See, those of you with your hand raised, look around. This is a great opportunity to connect with others in your field and those who want to learn more, be sure to network with them after the talk.”

According to PayScale.com, those in the role of business analysts have been mostly male, with 41 percent of the workforce being female. Exploring this unique role, four local Kansas City professionals, Tamara Copple, Lee Zuvanich, Joanna Shindler, and Cecelia Walsh, spanned the spectrum of companies and backgrounds and discussed their experience working as a business analyst and the road that led them there.

What Is A BA? It’s the Person Your Dev. Team Needs


Tamara Copple, a business analyst with Lockton Affinity, discussed the specific day-to-day working in the role. With 15 years of experience, Tamara and the rest of the panelists explored how working as a business analyst included “wearing different hats” as the product owner and being the point person on the business side of the project.
This can be reflected in the QA or quality assurance process.
“We were getting to launch an eCommerce site,” Tamara said. “We got to the dropdown menu where you put in your credit card number and on the backend of it it read ‘what is your expiration date?’ and we had 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,12. Somebody said, ‘What happened to November?’ The developer looks us straight in the eye and he said, ‘We don’t need November anyway’.”
Discussing the role of a business analyst, the panel commented on how it is about adding value to the company and determining how you add that value.
“My favorite, favorite thing as a BA is to sit down with business owners and share what I think they need to help scale their business,” said Lee Zuvanich, a freelance business analyst for multiple local Kansas City business. “That can turn into a marketing effort or monetary strategizing. I love asking business owners ‘what resonates with you?’.

They Connect with Clients


“We are all working hard to accomplish the same goal and to come together to celebrate those goals is what I love most,” said Cecelia Walsh, a senior business analyst with 13 years working in the financial software development industry.

How to Become a BA

“If you’re the type of person who wants to know things just because you want to know, you can be trained in the skills you need for your industry,” said Joanna Shindler, a business analyst working in the web, data, publishing, and content management fields. “If you have that intellectual curiosity, the technical skills can be learned.”
Not having a tech. background isn’t a stopping point for those interesting in working as a business analyst. According to the panel, most of their backgrounds started in a variety of fields including journalism and design. The road to becoming a business analyst just started with the particular skills of working with people to handle the client side and the curiosity skills to work with the development side of the business and then connecting the two.


Join Us Next Month!
Interested in learning more about the various roles in the technology industry? Join us for our October session coming up this month where we will be hosting another panel discussion exploring What is Data Science on Wednesday, October 17 at C2FO in Leawood.



As a LaunchCode graduate, Gloria Higley completed an apprenticeship at VML and then accepted a full-time web developer role at Burns & McDonnell. She recently shared her interviewing insights and gave her top three tips for technical interviewing. Check them out below!

1. Be genuine about where you are in your journey and passionate about where you want to be.

When I was interviewing for my first technical role I got really wrapped up in the fact that I didn’t have more side projects or had yet to contribute to any open source projects. Instead of being hard on myself about what I hadn’t done, I chose to focus on all the things I had. I focused on how hard I had worked to learn to code. First with Coding & Cocktails, then DjangoGirlsKC, then with the LaunchCode LC101 course. I chose to focus on the projects I’d completed as a part of LaunchCode. I chose to focus on going back to Coding & Cocktails to mentor because I felt that was the right thing to do after all of the support they’d provided for me. I chose to focus on how my background in project management paired with technical skills could help others bring their big ideas to life. I chose to focus on all I’d done while raising a family and working a full-time job.

Being genuine about where I was in my journey helped differentiate me as a candidate by showing how intentional and engaged I am in being a lifelong learner. It also helped me see what types of companies were a good fit for me.

Interviewing is definitely a two-way street. It’s important to find a company who values you for where you are and your future potential.

2. Be prepared for both behavioral interview questions and technical ones.

Study common white-boarding questions if you think that will be a part of your interviewing process. Hackerrank.com is a great resource for prepping for technical interviewing. Also, and arguably more important, make sure you can explain how well you can work on a team and accomplish results. Technical skills are vital to landing a job, being able to work well with others is vital to building a career.

3. Research the company you’re interviewing with before the interview.

Learn about the clients they serve, their competition, their financials, and their goals. Then clearly articulate how you could contribute to their success. Interviewers want to know that you’ve done your research and are interested in being a part of the team.

The Coding & Cocktails curriculum was a catalyst for me gaining the confidence I needed to learn to code. Being provided a safe place to learn, ask questions, and network are the reasons I’ve been able to successfully navigate my career change to technology.

Similarly, I’ve grown a lot professionally by returning to KCWiT to mentor. Talking about how code works and helping other women learn has made me better at my job and increased my confidence.

I can’t thank KCWiT enough for their dedication to growing the number of women in technology careers in Kansas City.

You can connect with Gloria at https://www.linkedin.com/in/gloriahigley/



Anri Liy’s internship as a quality assurance tester at realquantum turned into a full-time Quality Analyst role this summer. We sat down to find out what that was like.

KCWiT: Tell us about realquantum. What is the company all about?
Anri: realquantum is a web app for commercial real estate appraisers that is easy to learn and use. We also have a new iOS app for appraisers to use when they inspect properties that make their job easier.

KCWiT: Anri, what does a typical day look like for you? What does a quality analyst do?
Anri: I am responsible for testing our web and mobile applications manually and ensure they are ready for production. In addition, I’m learning about automated testing and starting to implement test scripts. Our developers are very good, but I still manage to find things to fix!

KCWiT: What would you like to tell our members about interviewing for your first technical role?
Anri: First it’s very important to network and to be an active member of the community because I don’t think I would have gotten a chance to interview otherwise. I interviewed twice before I got hired by my current company. My First interview was with CEO Mark Davis. We talked about some general topics, my past experience, and education. We didn’t discuss technical topics in any detail.

The second interview was with the CEO and CTO, Dan Wieschhaus. To prepare I reviewed what I had learned, then decided what I would like to show them. The day of the interview they asked me about technical topics and past projects. For example, they asked me to describe a gem file, which rails version I have used, which databases I have used, etc. The interviewers told me I could say if I didn’t know something. That made me very comfortable and that I could simply describe my skills.

I brought my laptop, prepared my GitHub and web URL so I could show them my projects and code. This preparation helped me show them my skills and I wasn’t fumbling around in the interview.

KCWiT: You mentioned that getting involved in the community was important to helping you get an interview. Can you tell us more about that?
Anri: I started my online programming school one year ago. At that time, I had just moved to the U.S. from Japan, so I didn’t have anybody to ask for advice. I really wanted to join a good community so I Googled “Kansas City programmer women” and found KCWiT and Coding & Cocktails. I started Coding & Cocktails in April 2017. I remember my first session like it was yesterday.

After I finished my online boot camp, I started job hunting. I didn’t know how to do this in the U.S. so I asked many Coding and Cocktails mentors what to do. I thought my questions were childish, but all the mentors were super kind to me. I also received help editing my resume from three or four mentors. They gave me professional advice for my resume like adding a Github URL, my project URL and how to document my skills and education.

Also, they recommended I attend CoderDojoKC as a mentor because I didn’t have any volunteer experience. At first, I didn’t know what I could do, but the senior mentors were very kind and the girl I taught, made a presentation that made me really proud of her. The event was wonderful, so I still attend regularly. KCWiT has made my life so much better.
Thank you KCWiT members for all of your help and for being my friends!!

You can connect with Anri at https://www.linkedin.com/in/anriliy, or you can often find her mentoring at CoderDojoKC or hanging out at Coding & Cocktails!



Taking over thousands of different forms, the value of cryptocurrency mostly lies in the “utility that the technology is providing”, said Lauren Browne. Browne and Melissa Jobe are the founders and managing directors of Blockesperity Capital, Kansas City’s first cryptocurrency investment fund, Browne and Jobe bring years of working with Fortune 500 and 100 companies to their approach to providing the Kansas City community with access to learning more and investing into various types of cryptocurrency.

“We’re looking at the big picture of where we think KC is in regards to the technology landscape, cost of living, and incredible talent,” said Lauren Browne. “We are here to provide a service while the [cryptocurrency] technology is still progressing and somewhat hard to to access.”

Browne and Jobe shared their insight into cryptocurrency during our Kansas City Women in Tech August TechTalk at Mazuma Credit Union in Overland Park. Going beyond monetary assets, Browne and Jobe discussed block chains and how cryptocurrency can process data; so it is “important to know what you’re investing in”, said Jobe.

Cryptocurrency Myths

Working in cryptocurrency investment, a relatively new frontier for the mass public, Melissa Jobe and Lauren Browne have come across varying first impressions of people when first exploring cryptocurrency.

  • That it’s a “get rich quick” scheme
  • That it’s used for shady things (transactions are transparent.)
  • That there’s no value to cryptocurrency

Beyond exploring the network value of cryptocurrency, Melissa Jobe explored the various authentication software and best practices with TechTalk participants for those interested in investing into crypocurrencies like Bitcoin or Litecoin.

Many thanks to Lauren Browne and Melissa Jobe for an in-depth introduction to cryptocurrencies and Mazuma Credit Union for hosting our August TechTalk. View our Instagram photo below for more information on how to learn more about cryptocurrencies from sites Coindesk and Medium.

Are you interesting in staying on top of the latest practices and trends in technology? Join us for our free monthly TechTalk speaker series around Kansas City. Explore the role of Business Analysts with a Q&A panel with local women professionals during our upcoming September TechTalk on Wednesday, September 19, at the Kansas City Public Library-Central branch.



Melanie Garvey is a Coding & Cocktails alumni who just wrapped up her associate’s degree in web development at Johnson County Community College. Just before graduation, she was offered a role as an integration engineer at Mylo, a division of Lockton Insurance.  

KCWiT: Melanie, tell us about Mylo. What do they do?

Melanie:  Mylo provides consumers with the market’s most competitive and customized insurance quotes.  Our digital approach makes the process of purchasing the correct insurance policies more efficient so each consumer can feel confident that what matters most to them is covered.

KCWiT: What do you do as an integration engineer? How is that different from web development?

Melanie:  The role of Integration Engineer serves as a technical liaison between our internal teams and clients.  As apart of the engineering team I do actively write both front-end and back-end code like any other web developer.  However, it is also my responsibility to accurately represent our capabilities and gather the information needed in order to find the best technical solution for our clients.

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

Melanie: It was intimidating but I was able to put the nerves aside, be myself and use my studies/knowledge to answer the questions to the best of my ability.

KCWiT: What led you to pursue your web development certificate?

Melanie:  There are many reasons that led me to go back to school to get an Associates in Web Development from JCCC.  I have a liberal arts and marketing background so I always thought that a career in tech was out of the question of me.  However, I discovered code while writing a blog that I started as a creative outlet & found myself wanting for find out more.  KCWiT’s Coding & Cocktails surfaced in my search & after attending a couple of classes I was hooked. KCWiT made the idea of taking this hobby and turning it into a career not seem so far-fetched & out of my reach.

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

Melanie:  Yes! More than anything KCWiT helped me come out of my shell.  I became not so intimidated by tech because I realized that people in tech actually come from all kinds of academic and professional backgrounds.

KCWiT: Now that you have graduated, what is the next thing you are looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to continue to learn as much as possible and studying the science of web development.  Code is all around us so having insight into how that technology works is a powerful skill.

You can connect with Melanie at https://www.linkedin.com/in/melanie-garvey/ or give her a shout out on Slack!



DjangoGirls KC

As I opened my application late last spring for Django Girls Kansas City 2017, I remember feeling nervous. I had very elementary programming experience, having attended several Coding & Cocktails sessionswith Kansas City Women in Technology and having worked independently through several Coursera courses on R and Python.

Still, I wondered, did that leave me not qualified enough to participate in Django Girls? Was I too qualified, so then I would have to serve as a mentor? Turns out, I had nothing to worry about (side note: a running theme in the category of Things I Tend to Worry About in My Life). I was honest on my application about my experience to-date, and it was enough to earn me a spot at the table in honing my elementary coding skills as a participant.

Perhaps you are working on your application right now, or maybe you have thought about applying but still are not sure as to whether you should. With the deadline approaching at the end of this week, if you have thought even once about applying for Django Girls Kansas City 2018, please do so. That shows your desire and drive to learn new skillsets, and those are among the qualities of a stronger contender for participating in Django Girls Kansas City.

Here are three tips that I would offer for submitting a solid application:

  • Application question: Why do you want to attend the workshop? Your answer: Think about how you use technology in your everyday life and how you might leverage the skills you learn at Django Girls Kansas City to better those experiences. For example, those who work in graphic design or instructional design might build a website to leverage their freelance work or to strengthen their creative and critical thinking skills.
  • Application question: current occupation. Sure, you have a formal job title, but how does technology relate to that role, as well? If you are a student, how could learning more HTML, CSS, and Python help strengthen your studies? If you are a working professional, what facets of your job could be improved from studying new-to-you technologies and frameworks?
  • Application question: How will you spread the word about Django Girls Kansas City after the event? Your answer: Think about your professional and personal networks. Could you encourage them to participate next year, as well? If you are active on social media, you could post your milestones throughout the day, to encourage others to learn more about Django Girls. Remember, too, that Django Girls is an international nonprofit, and one way you could make a difference afterward is in making a donation.

Just the other day, I was reflecting upon the Winston Churchill quote, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” There is no way to fully predict what you will learn in participating in Django Girls Kansas City 2018 – that’s the beauty of learning a new skill. (Most of what I learned last year is how much I still have to learn and how that is completely okay.) But in taking some time to complete your application, you set yourself up for planning a day that will likely open up a world of new opportunities for you.

Adrianne DeWeese is the Vendor Coordinatorfor Django Girls Kansas City 2018. She may be reached at adrianne.deweese@kcwomenintech.org



DjangoGirls KC Workshop Event

I will always remember my first computer, mostly because I had two of them: One was a portable VTech PreComputer 1000 that I spent hours alone with in the evenings. I answered the trivia questions it had among many different categories, eventually memorizing the questions that slowly scrawled across the screen and typing the answers before they had a chance to finish.

My other first computer was a DOS. I spent many hours on floppy disk-based games, where my favorite was a word-command game called The Lost Crown of Queen Anne. As I waited for Solitaire to boot up, I got so good at typing the few start-up commands that I could type them in a quick succession, hit Enter in the right places, and run into the next room to grab a piece of gum and sit back down at the computer just as the decks of cards were starting to line up.

Twenty-five years later, I share these memories of my first two computers for good reason: I always wanted the opportunity to attend computer camp, but I never had the chance to do so.

Last year, I had the opportunity to achieve my childhood dream alongside women of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities as I participated in Django Girls Kansas City. The day left such an impression on me that I am back this year on the coordinating team.

I want to encourage other women to also participate in Django Girls Kansas City – or, if you have advanced technical and critical-thinking capabilities, I encourage you to apply as a mentor.

Today, I work full-time in the nonprofit sector; I am not a software developer or engineer. But the skills that participants take away from Django Girls Kansas City are immediately applicable in other facets of life. Here are just a few:

  • Access to unbelievable mentors: The mentors at Django Girls are high quality, and because of their gracious donation of their time, I was able to ask lots of questions, in addition to making lots of mistakes, without judgment and in a safe, learning environment space. 
  • Challenging, and developing, critical thinking skills: While I am not a full-time developer, participating in Django Girls allowed me to further strengthen and develop my critical thinking skills, which is applicable to any job/sector, as well as in school. There also is great satisfaction when you solve a problem in coding, and Django Girls provides lots of opportunities for those small victories throughout the day!
  • Lifelong learning: We are definitely at a point in our economy where lifelong learning is a must. Django Girls is an opportunity that allows for that lifelong learning and curiosity, regardless of experience levels. While it is encouraged that everyone aim to complete the curriculum, the day truly is what you make of it. 

Having obviously graduated from my first two computers, today I’m on an HP ProBook 4540s. We’re going on five years together, and as strange as it sounds, I know someday I’ll have to say goodbye. It’ll be challenging because I’ve accomplished a lot through this computer: I’ve applied for jobs. I’ve worked remotely. I’ve completed an entire master’s degree on it – and we attended Django Girls Kansas City together.

But there will be other computers, and at the end of the day, a computer is a wonderful tool that helps us realize the potential within us we may have not known existed. Apply for Django Girls Kansas City 2018 today, and I think you will see what I mean.  

Adrianne DeWeese is the Vendor Coordinator for Django Girls Kansas City 2018. She may be reached at adrianne.deweese@kcwomenintech.org



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!



TechTalk Event

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.



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