Coding & Cocktails: An Attendee’s Perspective – Adrianne and Building Skillsets

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.

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