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 firstname.lastname@example.org