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Meet Kate – Idealist, Problem Solver, 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, what would it be?

My big loves are travelling, the outdoors, hiking, people and good ideas that inspire the world to be a smarter, better place.

Someone who I look up to is Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund. Acumen’s mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty through patient capital – it is the marriage of the smart-headed businessman and good-hearted philanthropist. Over the last 15 years, they have helped to bring affordable water, light, food, healthcare, education and technology to the poor, through supporting and investing in businesses.

I hope to be able to bring positive value to someone else’s life through my work.

What are you currently working as?

I am currently looking for new work opportunities, preferably in a startup or technology.

After graduating from SMU, I was at a loss of what career path to pursue. I had a couple of internships but I don’t feel fulfilled in those industries. If I had to spend so much my time at a job, it had better be something I love. I joined Singapore Airlines to do what I love, travel. It paid well, I was excellent at it, I got to see a lot of the world and I learnt a lot. Amazing as it was, that life lost its shine eventually.

I left to join a pharmaceutical company as a sales representative. Hit the sales targets of course, but thankfully I was tasked to work with different stakeholders to help patients reduce their medical costs and educate the medical community. It paid well enough, I was good at it and I brought some value by making good medication available and slightly more affordable for patients who needed it.

Still, I wanted more.

A friend put it clearly into 2 words – “Finding Ikigai”. Work should have a purpose that is in line with the self.

Ikigai
Call it your love, passion, your belief system, whatever. In the words of Steve Jobs: “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”

Learning how to code has made me feel empowered to create something that can be of real value to others. I want to be part of the tech world that can bring real solutions that people need and empower them too.

Knowing how to code is empowerment. It puts the power to create in your hands!

What made you interested in programming?

We had this course in university, Computer as an Analysis Tool, and that was really my first taste of writing codes. We were doing a project with Excel VBA and knew nothing about it. I’m not even sure if you can really call it coding, but the 5am brain-cracking late nights and then finally getting an A+ got me feeling really ecstatic.

Alongside my job as a cabin crew, I’ve also dabbled in e-commerce selling coffee and branded goods on eBay, Instagram and WordPress. Learning how to create your own website and making that extra cash was another high.

There are so many apps out there that makes our lives better. But there are still many occasions that I wished there was another app. Here’s my wish list.

  • Please, someone do an online platform that can help a mentoring program like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America reach more people
  • Please, someone do an app for SQ cabin crew, so it wouldn’t be a pain every time we want to change flights with a colleague to be around for a class, exam, family event or wedding
  • Please, someone make an app so I could get my manuka honey for a reasonable price after I quit (cheers to AirFrov)

The final straw came when I heard stories from two of my close friends who took a year off their 9-to-5 jobs to set up a web and iOS app. They are both smart people with a great idea, but they are both non-technical. One of their developers disappeared and another charged $20,000 to create a prototype.

That was the point when I realised, that having some knowledge in coding will allow you to test ideas quickly without a huge initial investment (in either money or time). This will give you an idea of whether the idea is feasible or how it should be tweaked to satisfy users’ needs.

Knowing how to code is empowerment. It puts the power to create in your hands!

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

The TechLadies ad on Facebook I came across a few days after speaking to my friend, was really just serendipity.

I saw that there are so many other individuals who are interested in learning to code and being more involved in the tech community. I realised that I was not alone! Also, I’ve never been part of a for-ladies-only group, so this calls out to the little feminist in me.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?

A supportive community, like technology, is an enabler. The TechLadies Coding Program supports us in learning how to code while working on a project for an NGO. Having a shared vision, a goal, and deliverable that has real-life application is a huge motivational force.

Learning something together as a group is very different from learning on your own. This programme provides a community that can understand the challenges we face and learn from each other. The motivation and support from the coaches and community is invaluable to the learning journey!

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

Mastery of a programming language is an even longer journey than I first imagined – maybe deeper and more expansive than the ocean is.

My learning goal is to learn how to code in Ruby on Rails, in order to build an effective web app for HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics). Creating a solution that solves a problem is the goal here. By working on a real-world application, this gives me a good knowledge base to further explore Ruby’s capabilities in the future.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!

HOME is a society and charity that serves to uphold the rights of migrant workers in Singapore. I chose to work on this project for 2 reasons:

  1. I have a very good relationship with my domestic helper who has been with my family for more than a decade. My parents have brought me up to treat her like family. She has sacrificed watching her children grow up and cared for my sisters and I as we grew up.
  2. There are bad people in the world who think that position power and money translates to a right to take advantage of others. It’s unbelievable.

We are currently building a web application to help HOME better manage and update their cases. What excites me about this project is how some features of the web app will help HOME to look through their database more efficiently. For instance, it can highlight which companies or individuals have a repeated history of abusing and violating the rights of migrant workers in Singapore. They can also better track what are the common issues migrant workers face and provide the press with requested data.

So, to the bad people: watch your backs if you don’t want to land on the front page.

What do you see yourself using your coding skills for?

Right now, I am working on ideation for a friend’s business idea and as practice for myself, hope to use Ruby to create a prototype to help her get funding.

At the same time, I am currently looking for new work opportunities and believe that my coding skills will complement roles in tech startups and companies. I’m looking for an opportunity in programming and am open to sales and marketing positions, as long as I’m in the tech industry.

Meet Vina – WordPress Developer, Musician, 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?

Hi, my name is Vina! I lead a life filled with spontaneity, with a belief that there is always something new and meaningful for me to learn.

Currently, I freelance as a WordPress developer. But that’s not all I do. I’m quite musically inclined and can play by ear! The keyboard and the guitar are my favourite instruments to work with.

What is your current day job?

I’m a freelance WordPress developer so that I could make time for myself to learn and pick up a new skill. Recently, I’ve been trying out a few gigs as a music facilitator and I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Prior to being a freelancer, I worked in an advertising agency as their last-standing developer. It’s a long story to how I ended up in that position. I graduated from the University of Wollongong with a degree in Computer Science and I received a full scholarship from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research to pursue an MBA. That’s why I came to Singapore (from Indonesia), completed my MBA, and realised that while I have a foundation in business and computer science, I don’t have a specialized skill.

To hone in on my technical skills, I joined in this advertising agency as the 3rd developer on the team. After my team members left the company, I became the only person to help the entire team transit smoothly from being a traditional print-based agency to a full-fledged digital marketing agency. It was SO hectic! Because we were short on time and resources, I had to focus on using WordPress to build websites for our clients since it was the fastest way to do so. This went on for five full years before I realised that while WordPress is a fantastic tool, expertise in WordPress isn’t the skill that I wanted. I want to learn how to build an application from scratch, but the heavy workload at my job means that I wouldn’t have the time to do that.

An opportunity came when my professor from S.P. Jain approached me to help him create a website for a soup kitchen he’s helping at. That was my first freelancing gig and gave me the confidence to leave my job to make time for learning the skills I wanted.

What made you interested in coding?

When I was a kid back in the 90s, I used to watch my dad used word processors like WordStar, Lotus 123, and MS-DOS, despite not having a background in computer science or engineering. Watching him work away during the evenings fascinated the little 8-year-old me – he would type something on the keyboard and the computer will magically display something! While I couldn’t comprehend the mechanics behind it at that point in time, it was etched into my memory. Soon after, computing became a subject taught in my school. I got to learn and understand the same programs my dad used, MS-DOS!

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

I got to know of the TechLadies program during a Ruby meetup in Singapore where I spoke to Elisha, the TechLadies founder. The idea of making a coding program which focuses on building a real, scalable project available to women (for free!), was so appealing!

I had my reservations, though. Based on my experience, completion of a project would usually take much longer where the number of hours spent working on it is concerned. What’s more, the course covers a mix of both theory and hands-on work. I wasn’t quite sure if what that entailed – and was unsure if we would get to do much of the project ourselves.

When the announcement of the flagship 8-week coding program was made, I was pumped to hear that this was actually happening, and went ahead with the application, fervently hoping that mine would be chosen!

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Program?

After I’ve left my job, I started looking out for languages to learn and avenues to learn them. I’ve attended community-led workshops and meetups for Ruby on Rails and Objective-C but found that those languages didn’t resonate with me, and while the workshops were good, they don’t provide enough knowledge for me to understand what I’m doing.

Then I found out about PyLadies, a series of workshops to teach women how to code with Python. I attended a few and realised that Python “clicked” with me. That’s why when I’ve heard that one of the projects for the TechLadies Coding Program will be done with Python, it was a no-brainer for me to jump at the chance!

What do you hope to gain out of TechLadies?

Initially, my goal was to learn enough to build something from nothing, and gain new friends who shared similar passions. Now, and increasingly so, I want to become a full-stack Python and Django developer!

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!

We are working for Asian Film Archive to develop a web application that accepts film submissions. Think of it as the IMDB for Asian films, it’s a very interesting idea!

The best part of the project is to work with our mentor, Martin. Martin is a fantastic developer that never ceases to amaze us. He’s someone who breathes, walks, and sleeps Python and Django; it’s crazy! Through the process so far, he’s given us great guidance and advice on Python, Django, Ansible, Mkdocs and more. Learning directly from his thought-process was super helpful when we’re building new things from scratch. I think this is the best value of joining the TechLadies Coding Programme.

Right now, we are working on implementing the Django models for our app. My task is to create the Event model, which basically defines how the database table looks like. We need this to eventually build a timeline of events so that the administrators can see how a film submissions’ status has changed over time.

What do you see yourself using your coding skills for?

I would like to build a portfolio with a large selection of applications that people can benefit from and enjoy using, with an unlimited budget and fair deadlines proposed. Perhaps, if I can indulge in this thought, I would set up a company that provides healthy food for my team and work with a bunch of adventurous, exciting and forward-looking people.

Since technology is always changing, I will let myself adapt and keep up with it. I’m thankful for the large programming community in Singapore that looks to give so much to anyone who’s hungry to learn. This naturally makes me want to reach out to those who want to learn and help them out, too, regardless of their background!

Meet Yiting – Polyglot, Volunteer, 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 one sentence, what would it be?

Yi is the giraffe that every city needs because of her super ability to continually evolve from acquiring new tongues; she will soon speak computer too.

What is your currently working as?

I’m a final year student at the National University of Singapore majoring in English Linguistics. In addition to school, I am learning three foreign languages (French, Spanish, and German). On Saturdays, I help out at Blk 2 Furever Canines – a shelter with some of the sweetest dogs around. At Blk 2, I bathe, walk, and break up fights between the dogs. Since they are short of volunteers, I also design fundraising posters!

What made you interested in coding?

I’ve always been interested in HTML and CSS since the glorious days of Blogskins.com. I learnt to create my own blog templates through copying from the grandmasters of blog templates, and then editing parts of the HTML and CSS to my liking. It is always fun to make your own layouts and to see the code come alive.

But my passion for programming really started when I took the class CS3216 “Software Development on  Evolving Platforms” in NUS. I was lucky enough to take on the role as a designer during that class; I met the best of the coding talents in the university. It’s incredible to watch an idea turn from something on the drawing board into reality. To watch the coding talents live in action was like watching magic.

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

I don’t want to be that person, but… “Oh my god, it’s free!”

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?

The main hook was the mentorship that came with the programme. I’m a big fan of self­-directed learning but I’m also a believer in getting help where needed. Mentorship is a great way to kickstart my new learning journey especially so when code looks undecipherable, like an arbitrary combination of letters and numbers, to a beginner like myself.

I want to graduate from this programme with enough skills to inspire other girls to try coding too!

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

I want to graduate from this programme with enough skills to inspire other girls to try coding too! I know this goal sounds a bit of a stretch considering I’m just only starting out. But I know of many girls who are put off by how scary coding appears. These are girls who excel in Maths and Sciences, but somehow find programming as something unapproachable.

When I’m confident enough in my coding skills, I hope I can teach my female friends programming; many of them are interested in coding, but like me, they find it difficult to get started.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!

I’m working on Asian Film Archive’s (AFA) Emergency Reel Project. We are trying to improve upon the existing process that filmmakers undergo when they upload their films onto AFA. Currently, our team is building more subsections to make the site complete, such as the FAQ and the Event sections.

What do you see yourself using coding skills in the future?

I really want to create my own website from scratch! I would also love to use my skills to create a site for Blk 2 – it would be wickedly helpful in our fundraising efforts and in getting the world to meet our dogs. I’ve not finalised my idea, but it will be an app that drives donations for the shelter and promotes our dogs for adoption.

My ultimate goal would be to create a project related to travelling. I want to marry my love for exploring and visual storytelling with technology!

Meet Sandy – Air Stewardess, Coder, 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 one sentence, what would it be?

I am a geeky air stewardess who is learning to code and believes that technology can democratise education in developing countries.

What is your current day job?

I am currently an air stewardess based in Singapore. Prior to that, I was working in the sales department at Asus in Taiwan. That was where I decided that I am going to realise my dream of travelling around the world and be paid while at it. This is why I relocated to Singapore to become an air stewardess.

What made you interested in coding?

I first became interested in coding after reading Marc Andreessen’s “Why software is eating the world?” article. I have been coding for three months now, and I feel the coding is like a superpower that allows me to solve problems around me!

Recently, I noticed that my passion for coding has superseded my desire to see the world. I stayed in my hotel room to study while my peers were out sight-seeing or shopping when we were overseas, sometimes even after going for 24 hours without sleep. Of course it’s a hard trade-off and it’s something I do feel a little sad about, but I know that programming is something I really resonate with. I really want to create something from scratch, I want be better at programming.

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

Initially, I thought it was a branch of Girls in Tech organisation, and then I realised it is a totally new organisation that is very energetic and growing fast.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Program?

I want to join TechLadies for three reasons. Firstly, despite learning how to code for some time, I have not found many opportunities to apply it, and I think TechLadies’ approach of learning by coding a real­-world project is a great approach. Secondly, learning to code by myself can get lonely, and I would like to find like-­minded friends to learn and improve together. Lastly, I agree with TechLadies’ mission of helping women get into programming, and would like to be part of the initiative.

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

I have been learning how to code over the last three months, and recently shipped my first rails app a simple blog (https://sandytseng.herokuapp.com/). Though it is extremely basic and needs a lot of improvement, the feeling of creating something is extremely satisfying. I believe that coding is like a superpower that can solve problems, and I hope that after the TechLadies course, I will have the skill set to solve more complex problems. My ultimate goal is to use software to provide education for children living in rural villages.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!

We are remodelling the website for an NGO in Singapore called HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), which is focused on preventing the exploitation of foreign workers. I picked this project as I am a foreign worker myself. I remembered facing problems when I just arrived at Singapore so I could understand the pain faced by the migrant workers HOME is helping. To me, what HOME is doing is very meaningful and I am elated to be able to help in their mission!

I would like to use my skills to help provide educational opportunities to underprivileged kids in developing countries.

How would you use your coding skills in the future?

I would like to transition to the tech sector, and hope to join a software company or startup. In the long term, I would like to use my skills to help provide educational opportunities to underprivileged kids in developing countries. I envision a world where children can learn essential skills online, no matter where they are located.

Right now I’m helping out at my boyfriend’s education company, KidStartNow. KidStartNow teaches Chinese to children via a program that provides customised materials tailored for each child. Hopefully, we can bring this company to children living in rural villages all over the world!

Meet Xin Tian – Dropout, Customer Service Rep, 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?

I was extremely lost and my self-confidence fell tremendously after being kicked out from NUS Master programme two years ago. Today, I am here standing up again to pursue my new-found dream.

What is your current day job? 

I am currently working as a customer service officer in MyRepublic. I’m not sure if it is still considered a ‘startup’ company, but my role revolves around handling all sorts of issues that the customers of MyRepublic face, such as billing, order processing, and technical related support. My technical skills are geared more so towards hardware-related technical support, such as router or Internet-related troubleshooting.

Before this, I was enrolled in a chemical engineering masters program, but that only lasted for a while. It was funny how it happened, now that I think about it. I made my naive decision to join the chemical engineering masters program out of my passion for chemistry, and I enrolled myself in the course thinking I would have the freedom to choose my modules. It turns out that I couldn’t. What’s more, most of the modules resolved around physics, not chemistry. Of course, I was disappointed. Because I didn’t fair well, I was kicked out from the programme. I then began my career in MyRepublic as a customer service officer. I enjoy working in an environment so vibrant, where everyone had to hustle, be agile, and take up different roles and responsibilities. It is a very exciting and engaging experience!

During this period of time, a close friend of mine introduced me to the concepts of programming by showing me what could be created with code. It intrigued me, and eventually sparked an interest in me for all things tech and startup. I began researching almost obsessively, and with each new startup, each new tech-related service or product that I read up about, my passion and appetite for tech grew.

To me, the thing that attracted me to code is not coding itself, but the magic that coding can achieve.

What made you interested in programming?

To me, the thing that attracted me to code is not coding itself, but the magic that coding can achieve. The magic of being able to turn any idea into a real product amazes me, be it for business purpose or for the sake of helping people, was what drew my attention to coding and learning how to code.

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

Excited, like really excited! I’ve been keeping an eye out for coding bootcamps for a while, but time and financial constraints kept me from enrolling in them.

A couple of months ago, I joined in one of the workshops held at HackerSpace SG. Since then, I kept up with the news and posts on their Facebook page. During one of those days where I did my mindless scrolling through of my social media channels, I chanced upon a post from HackerSpace SG’s Facebook page that mentioned TechLadies. I decided to check it out, out of curiosity, and pleasantly surprised myself when I found out that it was exactly what I’m looking for all this while – something I don’t have to pay an expensive tuition fee for and don’t have to quit my full-time job to do.

Why did you want to apply to TechLadies?

I had been learning to programme by myself through all the online courses for the past one year during my free time after work. I did an HTML and CSS course with Treehouse and Code Academy, and bought a course off Udemy as well, in my attempt to learn how to code on my own.

However, I couldn’t really progress much without real life experiences. I would easily forget all the theories that I have learnt after a while since I have no chance to apply them. Moreover, I spent most of my days in a job that has nothing to do with what I really want to do, which was to code and create.

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

I hope that I would gain enough knowledge and experience that will enable me to get a backend developer job, which hopefully I will spend most of my time learning and improving my coding skills through hands-on experience. I decided that I wanted to work on backend development as I was genuinely more interested in the creation of the ‘skeletal’ structure of a working program. So far in my journey with TechLadies, things are going pretty well. With practice, I’m confident that I will achieve my goal!

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on now!

The project I’m working on right now focuses on revamping the Engineers.sg website, and currently we are working on the newsletter subscription module. I am in charge of the newsletter subscription form, which I mainly work on rendering the view, error message and link them to the controller.

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

One day in the future I would like to use my coding skills to build my own tech startup/social enterprise. I am also actively picking up some entrepreneurship skills, too. This passion ignited after participating in the UNited We Hack hackathon organised by UN Women. I joined that hackathon with two of my friends who were backend and frontend developers themselves.

I represented my group as a pitcher as I didn’t have prior programming experiences then. Our hackathon topic revolved around empowering women, and so my group went ahead in developing a mobile app named “Her Voice”, that uses voice recording to share women’s stories virtually. We open sourced our work and you can find the codes on Github.

The hackathon ended on a bright note for us, because we won first place! This experience triggered something in me. After the experience with the masters degree course, I was slowly and surely building up my confidence and hope for my future. Her Voice’s vision and mission left me with high hopes of building a community where one woman’s story inspires another, leaving women in the community with high hopes and courage to dream.

After TechLadies, I will be working towards building a sustainable social enterprise. How I will do this, I’m not so sure now. But I believe that every little step I make now will count!

Meet Sharon – Entrepreneur, Student, 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 one sentence, what would it be?
A 22-year-old believing in the possibilities and beauty of life.

What are you currently working as? 
I’m a final year student at SMU (Bachelor of Business Management) graduating this May. I’m also working on my own startup called Protégé that provides mentoring software for organization to better manage learning & development. Protégé helps organisations better develop the potential of their people and connect with their employees (especially the Gen Y millennials) through internal mentoring. It is a B2B mentoring software that matches mentors with mentees, track the relationship & mentoring sessions, as well as collect real-time feedback on learning value. This comes as a native mobile app for mentors and mentees and web portal for the mentoring programme administrators.

​As a student and an entrepreneur, I tried to stack more modules in the earlier years of university so I’d have increasingly more time for my start-up as I approach graduation. On the day-to-day basis, I focus most of my time on my start-up but just make sure my time is planned out so that I complete school deadlines in time.

(Psst, a note from the TechLadies team: Sharon didn’t want to brag, but we wanted to. For her work at Protégé, Sharon was awarded the Youth Entrepreneur Award 2015 by Small Medium Business Association (SMBA).)

What made you interested in coding?
I first encountered coding when we had to develop the MVP for our startup. That’s when I started exploring different courses and online tutorials, such as Codecademy. My first coding lessons were on Codecademy! Coming from a business background, going into the tech start-up space was a really steep learning curve. However, it was always fascinating and intriguing to see the infinite possibilities that coding could create. Having the ability to build what I could only previously imagine is a skill so powerful and life-changing!

What was your thought or reaction when you first heard of TechLadies?
“OMG This is so cool!”
*checks to see how much it is*
“OMG IT’S FREE! :O”
*immediately signs up*

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?
I’ve been wanting to attend an in-person coding course for the longest time ever. But all the courses I’ve come across so far have been way beyond my budget as a student. Hence, the substitute is online courses that I’ve done on Codecademy, Udemy and individual websites. However, I’ve always felt that I’d reach a certain point where I hit a wall and can’t continue forward without consulting a fellow coder who is more experienced. The learning always stagnates there. TechLadies is honestly a dream-come-true programme that offers the wonderful value proposition of the following core benefits:

  • In-person lessons with a high teacher-to-student ratio (2 coaches to 3 students on my project)
  • Actual practice by building something for a real-world “client”
  • A community of both coaches and fellow students you can learn from and together with — the help they extend throughout the week on Slack is mind-glowingly amazing. It’s like they are always “online” and will answer any questions you have almost immediately.
  • It’s FREE – what more can I ask for 🙂

What do you hope to gain out of the TechLadies Coding Programme?
​To be able to be sufficiently proficient in Ruby and Ruby on Rails to code something from scratch. I’d love to try building something just for fun to practice developing in Rub, maybe something useful that I can use — like a to-do list, or journalling tool of some sort? Otherwise, I’ll also love to contribute to coding the administrator portal of my startup as it is web-based (rather than the native mobile app).

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!
Our team is building new features and functions for the Engineers.sg website. Currently, I’m working on building a Mailchimp integration with the existing website to for the purposes of a providing a newsletter subscription service where readers can leave their name and email addresses to receive updates.

What do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?
Definitely in my start-up or any other projects I’ll be working on in the future!

Meet Casie – Gymnast, Entrepreneur, 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 one sentence, what would it be?

Compassion meets curiosity standing on her hands.

Psst… I often do impromptu handstands, I do them everywhere!

What is your current day job? 

I’m currently the Program Director and Head Gymnastics Coach at the Singapore American School and have developed a curriculum on gymnastics that gives success to all ages and ability levels. I am a high performance coach and have coached many Singapore national champions.

I also consult for the Ministry of Education and travel to schools across Asia sharing my curriculum so that the schools can develop amazing programs for their communities.

What made you interested in programming?

I began blogging about gymnastics when I moved to Singapore from China in 2010. I learned basic HTML and CSS when my blog was on Blogger and then taught myself to customize it on WordPress.

Thereafter I started writing about my other passions like DJing and teaching other DJs how to get gigs on websites that I had coded. From that point on, I realised how much power there was in taking technology into my own hands and not only using it for changing the websites aesthetically.

I got really interested in the tech space last year and started Googling and asking lots of questions about tech to friends and on Twitter. I also started to read a lot of books and blogs, and did practice tutorials online. I wanted to learn a programming language so I picked the one that I thought had the cutest name – Ruby.

Deep down inside, I think it is because I’ve always wanted to be like my big sister who is a UX designer back home in Wisconsin. Some things never change.

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

YES! Finally, something I have been looking for! I had always been looking at different programs available specifically for females but could not find anything in Singapore that would fit into my schedule as a mother, wife and founder. I believe TechLadies will help create parity for women in the tech ecosystem here in Singapore.

When I went to the TechLadies launch party, I met many women who, like me, were not right out of school. Many of them are very successful in their current positions but are really interested in tech, they just do not know where to start. I see TechLadies as the bridge for these women to cross over and make an impact in the world through technology.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?

I am insanely curious about finding solutions to problems.

Mostly to problems that I have, like being a mother with 2 children under the age of 5 and not being able to find quality classes for them to participate.

Some parents, including myself, find classes or activities online that have high ratings reflected on their Facebook Fan pages and trust their credibility. We signed our child up, paid his/her fees and brought our child to the class. However, we feel cheated when the teachers are not knowledgeable, when the space used is not clean, or when there are too many kids in one class. What is worse is that we feel like we have somehow failed as parents too.

I tried to solve this problem on my own by trying to clone a Product Hunt with Ruby on Rails because I wanted a way for parents to rate child-activity businesses in Singapore. But I never launch this project because I did not feel confident that it would actually work. And to be honest, the resulting interface was quite ugly. That’s why I applied for TechLadies.

The Universe handed me loads of high-fives in February when I was accepted into the TechLadies Coding Program. My own project also evolved into LeelaPass. My startup, LeelaPass, is a web app to help parents discover and book unlimited classes and boutique workshops for their kids with one low monthly subscription fee. It is the GuavaPass for child activities. I started this because I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to explore and develop their interests at a young age so that they can become the pillars of a healthy, happy and fulfilled society.

Why?

Because it happened to me. My mother took me to a ‘mommy-and-me’ class (just like the ones I teach) when I was 2 years old and I was an elite gymnast by the age of 12 and continued to train when I went to college at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I have been coaching gymnastics for over 18 years in US, China, Bermuda and Singapore and this journey in life has been due to the opportunity my mother gave me, allowing me to discover my passion and develop my interest.

I was so filled with confidence and the belief that I can make LeelaPass a reality that I managed to code the landing page in a day and turned it into a revenue generating business in under 10 days.

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

I want to be a part of the change in the Singapore technology landscape.

According to Female Founders, Singapore has only 5% of women entrepreneurs in tech startups. That’s not even half of what it is in Silicon Valley!

I want to be able to help bring up that measly percentage by being one of the first participants in the TechLadies Coding Program. However, my true value is to give another woman, after she hears about my story, the confidence to follow her own light within.

I also want to be able to prototype LeelaPass with Rails. I really want my contributions to be more than the voice and vision of the company. I want to have my code inside the software we build for LeelaPass from the very start. This is extremely important to me. My aim is to have a full grasp of concepts to be able to communicate with my technical team, set realistic goals and when bringing our product to market, be able to execute the goals knowing that I have enough tech knowledge.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on!

Our team is working on making a non-profit’s existing site better. The non-profit documents the Singapore tech and startup scene by recording videos of conferences, meetups and workshops, uploading them to YouTube as well as embedding them on their site – Engineers.sg. Right now we are adding code to allow visitors to sign up to a mailing list so that they can be notified when something awesome happens on the site. Like when a new video was uploaded of a workshop that they could not attend because they wanted to be home with their family for dinner.

What do you see yourself using your coding skills?

In the future, I will share what I learn. I believe harnessing knowledge solely for the sake of knowing is selfish, as doing that does not leave the world in a better state compared to before the knowledge was obtained. Therefore we must all teach what we have learnt. I know I will start to share what I have learnt by teaching my daughters how to build their own games and apps and perhaps I will also teach other children and other change-makers to code.

Why we started TechLadies

Participants and coaches for TechLadies Coding Program

When I was starting my previous tech startup back in 2011, I couldn’t find a tech cofounder to join me. That was when I decided that I was going to learn how to code the product myself. The biggest challenge I had was this ­ – “where do I start?”

I started hanging out at Hackerspace to learn from other programmers, and I remembered the discomfort I felt about how out of place I was at my first few visits. I have zero technical knowledge. I felt like a misfit among them – I was one of the few females there, I didn’t know “programmer speak” and I don’t understand what they were talking most of the time. But as I got to know the tech community better, and learned more and more about programming, ­ I fell in love with it.

Programming isn’t just a bunch of codes on a screen; it’s the ability to create. It’s the ability to solve your problems (or someone else’s problem); it’s the ability to dream up a tool and code it into existence. It’s beautiful; it’s like a superpower. 

And the best part about programming?

The programming languages are free to use.

People create useful tools and give them all away. Not just tools, people share their knowledge and help other with their coding problems ­ all for free. The culture of giving is very evident and prevalent in the tech community, and it’s something that has always inspired me.

It’s a shame the tech industry is a male­dominated one and sexism is real. Even in Singapore, the gender ratio at any tech meetup is heavily skewed towards men. Gender ratio imbalance in tech is a big problem to tackle – it’ll probably involve education, government, and unions. But that doesn’t mean that a small group of people passionate about the problem can’t try inching towards that goal. 

This is why TechLadies was created.   

We are a group of people passionate about getting more women into the tech scene. ­We want more women to come to love programming just as much as everyone in the tech industry does, without the perception that programming is a men’s thing or that the tech community is a men’s club. 

TechLadies is a community-­led initiative that introduces more women, and those who identify themselves as one, to programming and the tech industry. We’re trying out a different method of introducing women to programming by focusing a lot of resources to get them into the industry as programmers.

We’ll start with nine women.

These nine women are participants of our 8-week coding boot camp, TechLadies Coding Program, where they will learn how to code by coding an app for non­profit organizations. We’re cultivating the giving culture we see in tech by making this program free and help them contribute to their community with the apps that they create. 

The TechLadies Coding Program’s 9 participants come from very diverse backgrounds. They consist of an air stewardess, a chemical engineer student, a linguistics student, a gymnastics coach, a student entrepreneur, a management consultant, a WordPress developer, a pharmaceutical sales representative, and a customer service rep. They each have dreams they want to pursue with the ability to code.

It’s AMAZING where they come from and where they want to go. In this blog, we will share their stories and coding journey with the world. If you wish to get updates right in your inbox, please sign up for our newsletters below. Otherwise, you can also like us on Facebook to stay in touch.

See you soon!