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Meet Min – TechLadies Bootcamp organizer, Coffee-lover, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code!

Meet Min - TechLadies Bootcamp organizer, Coffee-lover, TechLady

Editor’s Note: Min is a graduate of the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. Despite her modest experience in tech, she has courageously picked up the baton to organize TechLadies Bootcamp #4 with Shirlaine, helping to train a new generation of female engineers. This is her story.

 

If you could tell a story about yourself in one or a few sentences, what would it be?

I like coffee and slow mornings. I like to ask ‘why’ and am drawn to things that are created with intention.

I was born in Singapore, raised in Brunei and completed college in the US. I studied Economics and Philosophy and graduated with a liberal arts degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

 

What do you currently do for a living? 

In my previous role, I was a Portfolio Management Analyst with Jardine Lloyd Thompson in Singapore. This was my first job post-college, in a country and with people that felt familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. Looking back, this allowed me to bring a different approach and perspective to my workplace. In my 4 years with the firm, I learned how to apply critical and logical thinking in strategising, conceptualising, executing and evaluating projects.

Outside of work, my main interest is coffee and used to spend Sunday mornings working at Nylon Coffee Roasters. I see a good cup of coffee as the result of the combined efforts of the entire supply chain i.e. from the farmer to the roaster and finally, the barista having successfully brought out the best of the coffee, all playing a part and all equally important. I am currently in the process of setting up a cart service that aims to highlight this, keep checking in this page!

I enjoy problem-solving. To me, coding is a creative pursuit. Just as an artist expresses herself through colors, a programmer uses code. I love the dichotomy of code; logical and systematic yet creative and fluid at the same time.

What sparked your interest in learning how to code?

I first picked up coding in college as an elective course. Wanting to challenge myself and pick something that was completely off my vocation I decided to try introductory programming. Contrary to my expectations I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been trying to build competency since!

I enjoy problem-solving. To me, coding is a creative pursuit. Just as an artist expresses herself through colors, a programmer uses code. I love the dichotomy of code; logical and systematic yet creative and fluid at the same time. While math and logic set the framework, creativity gives me the freedom to build solutions that are designed well and fit for purpose. This is exciting because there are multiple solutions to a problem. It is also empowering because we all have creative freedom to build anything we want, in any way we want (within the define structures, of course).

In many ways, my studies in philosophy have complemented my thought process and approach to a coding problem. 

 

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

An excellent initiative to support women who are in or are exploring tech by offering tech talks, workshops and study groups. TechLadies is an amazing community of learners and teachers who encourage and challenge one another to think, share ideas and learn alongside each other.

I believe communities like TechLadies will be instrumental in bringing back some parity to the programming field.

 

Why did you apply for the TechLadies Bootcamp?

Over the past 2 years I had been trying to build competency through online courses and workshops, but was always aware that building an application involved much more than just knowing how to write code – equally important are the design process, working in a team, and project management element that simply cannot be taught online.

I wanted to work on an app for an actual company with a real problem, and saw that the bootcamp had:

  • Practical experience working on an actual app
  • A structured program with clear objectives and an achievable goal
  • Solid coaches who go above and beyond to mentor and support us
  • Good cause – the NGO gets an app, we learn a new language. Win/win situation!

Despite the abundance of resources out there, it was difficult to figure out how to solve problems when one has to figure out how to fit all the pieces together to get the code to look and behave the way you expect it to.

What are some of the challenges you faced while learning how to code?

My biggest personal challenge was not knowing how to find the best solution to problems. Despite the abundance of resources out there, it was difficult to figure out how to solve problems when one has to figure out how to fit all the pieces together to get the code to look and behave the way you expect it to.

As part of my experience at the TechLadies Bootcamp, I learned the value of asking for help. There are so many people who are more than happy to lend a helping hand!

I also understood the importance of proper documentation, both in reading and writing it. Good documentation helps me be self-reliant in getting around the code and troubleshoot errors more efficiently. Having worked on the project as a team, it also meant that I could quickly pick up and build on a fellow teammate’s code and vice versa.

 

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on and why you selected this project.

We revamped the TechLadies app! TechLadies needs no introduction; to date, Elisha and her team had been sorting and ranking bootcamp applications manually with Excel and Google Sheets, which had been extremely time-consuming.

We added code to integrate and automate what can be automated in the bootcamp application process i.e. remove incomplete applications, sort applications to the respective NGOs and coaches as well as sending out acceptance and rejection emails. Now, Elisha and the coaches will also be able to view, review and assess every application, all on the same platform!

Min presenting at TechLadies Bootcamp #3

After graduating from the TechLadies Bootcamp #3, you have stepped up to organize the TechLadies Bootcamp #4! Tell us more about it.

I wanted to give back because I’ve benefited so much from the bootcamp! My primary motivation comes from the desire to give more ladies that opportunity to become empowered – both commercially and emotionally.

So with sheer determination and zero experience in program management, Shirlaine and I decided to take on the challenge of organising TechLadies Bootcamp #4. This was not easy, I had to constantly step out of my comfort zone – from learning time management, resourcefulness, and adaptability to marketing the bootcamp. It’s definitely a learning experience for me, but I think the ultimate value it brings to the community make the hours spent worth it.

We also get to put the app we built for TechLadies to use! As admins, we got to enjoy the efficiency and time savings the app brought. To see the hours spent and snippets of code we put in in Bootcamp #3 manifest into a functional app is really a big encouragement for me to continue to pursue programming.

 

How do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to design, build and maintain more complex applications on my own. I see myself empowering people and communities around me. I want to bring value by building applications to help people work more efficiently and effectively. By minimizing ‘clutter’ and creating products that work and function well, people can focus their energies on doing and creating things that impact. I am currently looking for opportunities where I can build products and gain competence. I am still navigating my way around the spectrum but am keen on picking up the full stack.

Finally, just as I had been ‘accidentally’ introduced to programming and benefited immensely from it, I hope to share what I have learned with others.

 

What is one advice you will give to a lady who is thinking about learning how to code?

If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it – because what’s holding you back?

Meet Shirlaine – Jill-of-all-trades, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that’ll inspire you to start learning how to code!

Meet Shirlaine - Jill-of-all-trades, TechLady

Editor’s Note: Shirlaine has taken a very interesting path to discover her passion for technology. She struck me as someone who gives her all to pursue her goals and she proves it by enrolling herself into a full time bootcamp on top of her involvement in the TechLadies Bootcamp. I’m excited at where she’ll go next in the industry. This is her story.

 

If you could tell a story about yourself in a few sentences, what would it be?

I would describe myself as an introverted but friendly, Jill-of-all-trades. I go where my passion calls and take deep dives, head first, into acquiring the knowledge needed to do well.

What are you currently working as?

I am currently running a small pet grooming business that I founded 4 years ago. Despite loving animals, joining the pets industry came as a surprise since I have a degree in sports science. I’ve worked in the property, health, and finance industries and I had no prior experience in the pets industry!

Wow, sports science to pets and now tech! Tell us more about your journey getting here.

Sports play a huge part of my life since I was a child so I thought sports science was something I could pursue in college. I also took up a property license and moonlighted as a property agent while in college since I had quite a bit of time at hand. It was when I met my mentor who was working in a health startup.

He wanted to create an IoT device much like FitBit before FitBit existed and roped me in to help bring that idea to fruition. Although the project failed, it gave me a glimpse of the tech world as it was the first time I’ve worked with software and hardware developers.

However, this experience was not enough for me to make the switch. After I left the company, I started devouring everything I can find on trading. I could make a living out of trading but it staying up to 3 am and waking up at 5:45 am to meet the trading open times was incredibly stressful. That’s why a friend and I hired a developer to create an app that trades on our behalves using our trading formulas.

We tested the app with mock data and were elated when the numbers were moving in the right direction but we lost thousands within hours when we roll it out into the wild! I didn’t understand how this could happen – the codebase was like a mysterious black box to me. I couldn’t tell if our formulas were wrong or if the code was wrong.

I felt quite burned out after that and took a sabbatical to figure out my next steps, and that’s how I decided to pursue my passion for animals and take up a pet-grooming license. This business and the industry was a huge change for me but I could acquire a new life skill and business management skills. It was tough as a one-person-do-all job but I am glad I did it!

I thoroughly enjoyed this process and through this, I learned that programming knowledge serves a purpose to a businessperson as well. (Without it,) I would not be able to comprehend the limits of my website without a background in coding.

What eventually sparked your interest in learning how to code?

Despite my previous experiences working with developers, my interest in coding was only piqued after I’ve set up my business. I engaged a web development company to create a website for me but I was entirely hands-on with the process – from crafting the logo using Adobe Illustrator to choosing all the photos going onto the website. I wanted everything to be perfect!

I thoroughly enjoyed this process and through this, I learned that programming knowledge serves a purpose to a businessperson as well. Communication between a developer and a client could be challenging at times. The client (a.k.a. me) would want a feature that a developer might not think could be done based on the existing infrastructure. I would not be able to comprehend the limits of my website without a background in coding.

This, coupled with my two previous experiences with developers, was finally enough to tip the scales for me to pick up coding.

Why did you want to apply for the TechLadies Bootcamp?

Having attended several events by TechLadies, I have always been very impressed by the way these events were organized. From venue to workshop materials, it was hard to miss the passion and quality that the volunteers for TechLadies’ cause.

I was looking to attend a part-time bootcamp to further my knowledge on Ruby by building real-world apps and to have a dedicated group of like-minded peers and mentors to share this journey with. With an almost 1:1 student to teacher ratio, TechLadies made my choice easy and everything just kind of fell into place. Zero regrets!

You had to create an app before you could apply to the bootcamp. Tell us more about the app you made!

We were required to build an app with a specific list of basic features using Ruby on Rails, with brownie points given for added features. For my app, it was a no-brainer for me to build a website for my grooming business. For those interested, the site can be found here.

Building the app was tougher than I thought it would be. I faced different roadblocks at different stages of the process and many of them took hours to solve. It also really helped that there were code clinics held to help us with any problems we encountered. Shout out to Michael and Daniel, thanks for the help!

What are some of the challenges you faced while learning how to code?

One of the major challenges I faced was the inability to identify problems. Problems in coding can come in various forms. To illustrate an example, we could get an internal 500 error but that gives one little hint of what exactly went wrong (especially when we’re still new). A trip to Google or stack overflow may or may not help to solve the problem and many times we had to trash the project to start coding again.

Another challenge faced was to apply the right syntax to problems. This was particularly frustrating at first because logically, the problems are usually not difficult to solve. But solving them through the use of a programming language felt a bit like trying to sing “baa baa black sheep” in French!

I’m happy to say that these days, it is definitely getting much better. At the bootcamp, we are taught how to recognize types of errors and deduce clues on what to look for to solve them. Fluency with the programming language, particularly Ruby, gets better with more practice 🙂

A mentor once mentioned that the skills we picked up from coding are similar to various tools in the toolbox. Each tool has its best use in specific situations. In the context of software development, these tools can potentially be used to solve various problems in the community and even in the world!

How do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?

A mentor once mentioned that the skills we picked up from coding are similar to various tools in the toolbox. Each tool has its best use in specific situations. In the context of software development, these tools can potentially be used to solve various problems in the community and even in the world!

I hope to continue sharpening my tools and acquiring new tools to tackle these problems, above all, I seek to gain more experience in deploying the best-fitted tool for the right situations.

Hereinafter, I hope to be able to know enough to contribute to more open source projects, preferably for more NGO’s. Being around other programmers has also inspired me to want to better my code, and constantly challenges my way of thinking in solving problems. I also hope to seek out the opportunity to learn more in an internship programme, and eventually, work my way towards becoming a developer to tackle more complex projects.

What is one advice you will give to a lady who is thinking about learning how to code?

If you are already thinking about learning how to code, just do it and start somewhere!

When it comes to choosing programming languages to learn, my humble advice is to think of something you want to build first, like a private tweet site/ blog site/photo album site for just your loved ones, for example. Building something with an aim in mind always helps to keep the momentum going. Once you’ve decided on what to build, it’s easy to figure out the tools you need through YouTube videos and online resources etc.

Don’t worry too much about which programming language to learn first, the key is to get started!

Meet Maggie – Introvert, Learner, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code!

Meet Maggie - Introvert, Learner, TechLady

Editor’s Note: Maggie has struck me as a shy lady who probably gives herself less credit than she deserves. I sat down with her for this interview and learned that despite being keenly self-aware, she also exuded a sense of quiet confidence. This is her story.

 

If you could tell a story about yourself in one sentence, what would it be?

I’m an introvert who discovered technology through my introversion.

I’m intrigued, tell us more! What sparked your interest in technology?

When I was in my teens, I knew that I’m not as outgoing as my peers. I struggled with low self-confidence and have difficulties expressing myself eloquently. So while other kids were joining CCAs such as uniformed groups or sports that rely heavily on interacting with others, I picked a CCA that required the least amount of human interaction. *laughs*

Under the recommendation of my teacher, I joined the computer club in secondary school where I discovered and fell in love with technology. I love how technology makes things efficient – a document can be easily shared with multiple people which cannot be done with paper.

Why do you love technology?

I believe that technology is a blessing to solving problems and streamlining processes. Moreover, solving problems with technology goes beyond writing code, it’s also about getting people to work with technology. This enabled me to look at problems and solutions from different perspectives.

I find dabbling in technology to be deeply comforting and that’s where I feel most at ease. After secondary school, I pursued a diploma in Multimedia Infocomm System and a degree in Information Technology.

Are you currently working in the tech industry?

I’m currently working as a Digital Project Manager at a retail company under the Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) offered by Workforce Singapore. I signed up for this program as I’m craving for a new challenge and at my age, there aren’t plenty of programs to help me transit into a new industry. I’ve transited into the retail industry from the entertainment industry where I’ve worked for 5 years on improving internal processes with technology.

Actually, I got my new job thanks to the TechLadies Bootcamp! My employer was looking for someone with Ruby on Rails skills and found my experiences gained from the bootcamp vital.

Before I found out about this community, I felt really alone – all my female peers from school have left the industry.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

Before I found out about this community, I felt really alone – all my female peers from school have left the industry. I didn’t know where to go to further develop my technical skills or bounce ideas with. So I was delighted when I came across a TechLadies ad on Facebook! It’s amazing to see that there is a community of women, people just like me, who are in the tech industry and are open to learning new technologies.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Bootcamp?

I knew that I wanted to be in an environment to upskill myself, and I knew that the best way to learn is through a hands-on process of working on a project. The TechLadies Bootcamp provided just that and more! In the bootcamp, I get to work in a team under the guidance of industry practitioners and this provides a chance for me to interact with people like me while gaining some real-world experiences.

Tell us more about the project you’re working on for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3!

My team is building an application process for the TechLadies Bootcamp, which allows the TechLadies team to streamline the process of selecting participants for future bootcamps. It is a blessing to have a community like TechLadies for ladies who are interested in tech, and more so to be able to work on this project that contributes back to our community.

The TechLadies Bootcamp #3 has started quite some time ago, how are your experiences so far?

I’ve really enjoyed my time in the bootcamp! My experience in the bootcamp resembles that of the real world – I have to work in a team to create an app that will be used publicly. Being in a team, we need to communicate the features we are working on and how we think about solving technical problems. This allowed me to practice my communication skills and has helped me in building confidence!

The lessons I’ve learned at the TechLadies Bootcamp have also benefitted my current job – I could now better communicate with and understand programmers.

Before the bootcamp, I don’t know about Github, Trello or Slack (important tools used by developers). I used these tools at the bootcamp and that has helped me to be a better project manager. Moreover, I now have a better understanding of code and could decipher what my teammates are writing!

All in all, I feel confident about my future with the learnings I’ve gained via this bootcamp. Plenty of friends have been asking me when the next batch will be!

Since technology is used everywhere. I can use this skill no matter what industry I am in. With my new coding skills and newfound confidence, I’ll love to be a product manager who creates tools that improve productivity and streamline processes.

How do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?

Since technology is used everywhere. I can use this skill no matter what industry I am in. With my new coding skills and newfound confidence, I’ll love to be a product manager who creates tools that improve productivity and streamline processes. I want to share my love for technology to more people, getting more people to adopt better technologies.

Not just for a career, I’ll like to continue learning by creating tools to solve my problems. I love traveling and I face a pain-point where photos, maps, and itineraries are on different tools and it’s a mess. I’ll like to create an app where I could pull all of these data into one place and I think I’m poised for this challenge.

Thanks for taking time out to share your story with us. Last question to end this interview, what is one advice you will give to ladies who are thinking about learning how to code?

Be bold and courageous! Just step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn how to code. Coding is just logic thinking, it is only 1 or 0 (binary) and it’s not intimidating!

 

Meet JiaMin – Mathematician, Data Analyst, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code!

If you could tell a story about yourself in one or a few sentences, what would it be?

Born and raised in Brunei, I moved to Singapore to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University where I discovered an unexpected love for coding. Upon graduation, I went on to complete a Masters of Science in Financial Mathematics at the University of Chicago. My passion for Mathematics stems from my enjoyment in tackling challenging problems.

My hobbies include yoga, baking and hiking.

What are you currently working as?

I am currently working as a Data Analyst at Bloomberg where I apply technology solutions to provide data to the financial markets in an accurate and timely manner. Previously I was working in a business development role at a construction company in Brunei.

What sparked your interest in learning how to code?

I love coding because it is really fun to break a complex problem into smaller pieces: solving them individually and compiling them together. There is something relaxing about isolating problems into little categories and solving them one at a time, and I experience that a lot when coding. Coding is fundamentally about creating solutions to problems. The best part about coding is that you can make things that are useful to other people and improve their lives in some way.

It wasn’t easy for me to come to love programming. Growing up in a traditional family, I would not receive any gadget or technology-related presents unlike my brothers as my parents believed that such toys were only for boys. So I never thought to explore or pick up any IT skills when I was younger. My first real exposure to programming happened when I was in college – where I had to take a class on C++ as part of my Math degree. That class blew my mind. It opened my eyes to programming and made me realized how much I enjoy creating applications and interacting with computers. I am very happy to be a part of TechLadies as I truly enjoy expanding my technical skills in a tight-knit community.

Despite the abundance of resources out there, it was difficult to figure out how to solve problems when one has to figure out how to fit all the pieces together to get the code to look and behave the way you expect it to.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

When I first heard about TechLadies after seeing their ads on Facebook, the first thought that came to my mind was how great the community-led initiative was in terms of introducing more women to the tech industry and encouraging them to have a career as programmers!

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Bootcamp?

I applied to TechLadies Bootcamp because although my work involves some programming, I don’t have any experience building a web application. Building a web application has always been one of my life goals because I am fascinated by the works of a web application. With Facebook, Google and the likes, applications play a big part in our everyday online life.

You had to create an app before you could apply to the bootcamp. Tell us more about the app you made!

For my application to the TechLadies Bootcamp, I created an events listing app (see my codes here). The choice was simple, I simply picked an idea out of the 4 ideas listed on the TechLadies website and ran with it. Attending all of the pre-bootcamp workshops definitely helped me with creating an application. I have also supplemented my learning journey by reading a bunch of online resources. I would definitely recommend RailsGirls guides and reading the documentation of the appropriate gems for the application.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on and why you selected this project. 

My TechLadies project is with I Am Talented, which helps students to discover their talents in non-academic pathways. This is especially meaningful to me because academically, I was a late bloomer. It might be hard to tell now, but I was really bad in Math back in primary school. I would always fail my exams despite how much time I’ve spent studying. My self-confidence took a big hit. It was only when I’ve graduated into secondary school where maths is all about logic and algebra (none of those abacus and memorizing work) that I started excelling in my studies.

Because of my experience, I understand that studying in Singapore can be stressful and damaging on one’s self-confidence. IAT struck me as a great social empowerment initiative for youths to not only discover their strengths but also hone their talents and overcome challenges. I hope that pursuing non-academic pathways may help students also similarly find their footing early on in life and develop their self-esteem. I believe it is important to develop the next generation as they are our future leaders. I also believe in the power of education and that education comes in many forms (not just academic).

How do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?

Through TechLadies Bootcamp, I hope to meet more women in the tech industry and to gain insights on having a career as a programmer. Besides that, I want to develop a web application that not only meets the basic requirement of I am Talented but to go above and beyond their specifications!

I would also like develop more web applications that can significantly improve people’s lives. In particular, I believe that information overload from endless streams of tweets, texts, emails or interesting articles on Facebook is a struggle many people face everyday. If I am able to develop an application that tackles this problem holistically, it would be a big check on my bucket list.

In the future, I would like to keep learning and developing my technical skills. Technology is an ever evolving industry and I believe there is much to learn in order to be agile and to remain relevant in the industry.

Meet Clara – Fashion Businesswoman, Curious Introvert, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code!

Clara Chow

If you could tell a story about yourself in one or a few sentences, what would it be?

A very socially awkward but curious introvert, that asks ‘why?’ too much. It is hard to convince me not to do something once I’ve set my mind on it.

Oh also, I like puns and I struggle with mornings.

What are you currently working as?

I have been running my online boutique selling self-designed apparel for about 5 years now. It is extremely challenging to manage all facets of the business and be 100% self-disciplined/motivated, but has been a fantastic learning experience. I don’t think any office job would have given me the experience and knowledge I gained whilst struggling without guidance through these years.

What sparked your interest in learning how to code?

I guess some part of me always loved web development. When I was a teenager, I built websites on Geocities for my adopted virtual pets to ‘live’ in. I promise this is cooler than it sounds. What got me hooked on web development was the immediate gratification programming provided — I could insert a code snippet and have the result rendered on the page instantly. To this day, I’m still awed by the magical process of transforming semi-gibberish into functional and useful websites that anyone can see on the WWW.

I wasn’t exactly a model student in school, and performed dismally for my A Levels. This severely limited my options in university and I ended up studying Project & Facilities Management – something I had neither passion nor interest in. After graduation, I worked at a desk job for an unfulfilling year before deciding to take the leap and start my own business.

Again, fashion wasn’t an industry I had particularly keen interest in. After 4+ years, my motivation to persist started waning quickly. I couldn’t see myself staying in this industry for the rest of my life. I thought: “Since I’ve always been keen in technology, why not rekindle that childhood flame? It’s time to move into the tech industry as a programmer.”

What got me hooked on web development was the immediate gratification programming provided — I could insert a code snippet and have the result rendered on the page instantly. To this day, I’m still awed by the magical process of transforming semi-gibberish into functional and useful websites that anyone can see on the WWW.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

“YAASSSS”. I have been trying to pick up rails on my own for over a year now by attending workshops and meetups, but it wasn’t easy without any sort of structured syllabus and guidance. It was hard for me to acquire new knowledge systematically and build on it.

There was also this sense of a lack of purpose — I didn’t know what I wanted to (or could) build. Even if I did, the app would serve no significant purpose. I have toyed with the idea of approaching an NGO on my own to help them with their website, but would always chicken out because I lacked confidence in my own abilities. I didn’t want to take on a project that I couldn’t deliver on. The whole TechLadies initiative and TechLadies Bootcamp was like a sign — there was no excuse for me to not apply.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Bootcamp?

I saw the Bootcamp as a way for me to do ‘disciplined learning’. There was:

  • A clear objective — building a functional app by the end of the bootcamp
  • Structure — weekly meetings with my team and a healthy number of hours I had to put in on my own prior to these meetings
  • A willing, experienced mentor <3
  • The teamwork element — working in a team is obviously more complicated than working solo, involving a whole different set of processes. There is also that sense of mutual support, learning and teaching.
  • A fantastic cause — helping an NGO become more efficient by lightening their administrative load

If you are someone looking to learn how to code, you’ll have to be seriously nuts if you do not at least apply and try to get into the program.

You had to create an app before you could apply to the bootcamp. Tell us more about the app you made!

My app is called The Foodlogger and it’s a meal tracking app. The idea for this app surfaced from a recent visit to the doctor. I have been living with Chronic Urticaria (commonly called Hives) for over a decade now, and recently went for a checkup to see if things have improved. The condition is basically an allergic reaction in the body and the trigger is unknown. Don’t worry! This is not contagious. Feel free to share hugs and high-fives with me!

The doctors did tell me that food is a very likely suspect in causing these daily allergic reactions. They gave me a list of common allergy triggers and suggested that I start a daily food log to find out which food group(s) were possibly contributing to my condition, and so the app was created!

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on and why you selected this project. 

I am thrilled to be on the Touch Young Arrows (TYA) team! Like many other NGOs, they are currently using Excel spreadsheets to store, sort and analyse data. This process can be tedious, causing conflicts when there are multiple sources of info (which occurs frequently) and is prone to errors.

I picked this project as I was really drawn to the product’s complexity — I love a challenge! I watched the pre-bootcamp video of Grzegorz (the coach for this project) teaching basic Ruby concepts and really liked his teaching style. He could explain complicated concepts in a structured, broken down manner that I could understand for once! It made this project resonate with me even more.

How do you see yourself using your coding skills in the future?

I’m not sure if I have an unrealistic expectation of the future at this point in time, but I’ll like to be able to build complex, decent looking apps and to deploy on my own.

I also want to secure a job as a developer. Coding been really fulfilling for me and I haven’t felt so at ease with myself in a long time. Well… of course the process is frustrating at times when I just can’t get things to work, but in general, I’m really happy now. It is the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, and I wake up feeling excited to attack the code! In a completely non-violent way, of course. I’d like to be a programmer at a company that could help me further develop my skills.

I would also love to build apps for more NGOs! They get an app, and I build up experience and competency. Everyone wins! If at some point in the future, I would love to spread the joy of coding by sharing my knowledge with other ladies who want to start coding.

Meet Cornet – Intern, Go-Getter, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 10-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become professional programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 9 ladies were chosen for the first batch of the TechLadies Bootcamp. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about the background and learning journey of these ladies. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code too!

If you could tell a story about yourself in a few sentences, what would it be?

If I were to sum it up in one sentence, it will be this: My life revolves around the love for matcha (green tea). You will never spot me without a matcha snack or drink at any point in time!

What are you currently working as?

My current day job? I’m currently interning at Tinkerbox, a design and software development company! I’m working on an app that helps with automating most of their company’s processes. My responsibilities are to assist the leading developers in developing small parts of the application and fix bugs during test runs. It’s been quite a challenge so far. Minor bugs tend to be found on a daily basis and I have to fix as many bugs as possible before they pile up. It can be an arduous task sometimes but I am enjoying it so far. No complaints!

What sparked your interest in programming?

To really understand my passion for programming, I’ll have to start my story from way back before college. I excelled in Science in high school so my family advised me to take up Chemistry Engineering in college because it has great employment opportunities in Malaysia where I’m from. I followed their advice and studied Chemistry Engineering at The Ohio State University in the United States of America.

I was good at what I was doing back in college but I’ve always thought that there’s something more out there – something I would feel passionate about doing my entire life. And I decided to take a break from school to search for that. I was recounting my story to my friend back in Malaysia when he suggested that I pursue programming. It didn’t make sense at first, but then it all clicked.

I remembered how much fun I had when I was taking some introductory programming classes at the university. You may have heard how satisfying the feeling is of being able to create something – anything – you imagine through programming, and that was the exact emotion that I felt back then. It was as if doors of opportunities suddenly presented themselves in front of me, each one leading me to some path towards creating the next big thing!

My friend also recommended me sites like Codecademy to learn to code from but it was not enough. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to intern at Tinkerbox when I met the founders through my friends, and now I’m here in Singapore finally learning how to code!

My experiences with programming, even though it is still in its infancy stage, has made me determined to pursue this as a career path. I’m taking a break from college and fully devote my time to becoming a junior developer.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

I was elated, surprised, and thrilled! I said to myself, “Oh my gosh, how can such an excellent program exist without having to pay!”

This is the perfect program for me, and this is exactly what I needed and what I was looking for! Since I’ve decided to take a break from school, I knew that an internship alone is not enough to give me all the learning experience I need to reach my goal of becoming a developer.

I was also enthusiastic about being able to meet more women who share this same passion for technology, to be able to connect with and learn alongside them. As much as this was a fantastic opportunity for the women and myself for me to learn and better my programming skills, it was also something meaningful as I will be able to contribute and serve the community. I haven’t seen a single program that offered such a comprehensive syllabus with a greater purpose in mind.

With this knowledge, I know I can create a tool to make a difference, be it to a community or to change people’s lives and perhaps, livelihood. I would like to use this skill to help people in need.

What do you hope to gain out of joining the TechLadies Coding Programme?

Ultimately, I hope to gain enough out of the program to build something that will allow me to contribute to the community. With this knowledge, I know I can create a tool to make a difference, be it to a community or to change people’s lives and perhaps, livelihood. I would like to use this skill to help people in need.

Looking forward, I sincerely hope to start my career path as a junior web developer, and press on to progress on the career ladder, eventually becoming a skilled web developer who will create the next most empowering, life-changing tech product – like Facebook!

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on now!

The project we are working on in TechLadies is for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).

HOME is a non-profit organization that aims to give foreign workers the chance to be heard when they encounter an unfair situation or circumstance, such as unpaid salaries, excessive working hours, work injuries, physical, sexual, verbal and psychological abuse. HOME believes in the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and dignity for migrant workers.

Along with two other talented women in my team, and my programme coach Jaryl, we are helping HOME to create a system that helps their organization and clients to communicate more efficiently. We are currently building the active record model, which is part of the ruby on rails application that is responsible for representing business data and logic. In this project, we focus on a couple of main models such as the users, organization, cases and issues. We work with them to link up and make sense of data.

How do you see yourself using your coding skills in the future?

I have big dreams and goals, and I’ll reach them one at a time with the coding skills I’ve learned through my time in the programme!

First and foremost, I’d like to build an e-commerce platform for my sister’s online business. My sister runs a third-generation laksa shop, called Ah Gong Laksa in Johor Bahru, with the aim of modernising a traditional business by selling packaged laksa paste online. I would like to help her create a product to do that. Eventually, I want to work as a junior web developer at a tech company!