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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 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!