Learning To Code @ Twitter

The preamble. 
Throwing it back to 2016.

They are about to announce the winner of The Guardian Code First: Girls competition. My palms were sweating and I had a confused look plastered on my face as I was still trying to figure out how our code had worked!

My teammate Miriam, was an absolute coding wizard. She always seemed to pick up new code as though it was a secret language that she had always known but had just discovered. Me on the other hand? I struggled. In fact, I ended up writing most of the code for our website, ‘Out of Bounds‘ that very morning. I spent the past 7 weeks battling with imposter syndrome and being a click away from sending that email headed “I quit”. I mean, I wasn’t a scientist or a mathematician and everything I was doing just seemed to be somehow out of bounds…

“Out of Bounds!”
We won!

Fast forward a couple of months later, I decided to do it all over again.

I remember when I received the acceptance email for the Advanced Python. I was so excited!

Twitter is an amazing company and it was nothing short of a blessing to be taught from experienced software engineers.
I decided to apply for the Python course, because I was advised that it was one of the most used languages and it was the easiest to learn.
Most used, probably. Did I find it easy, no! But it was expected.  Anything new that you decide to learn, will have a steep learning curve and this was no different. It was definitely a big jump from the beginners course that I did at The Guardian.

What is Python?
If you have ever filled in a form online, you have most likely interacted with Python. Put simply, it’s a back-end language which enables you to collect data from a variety of sources and use it to build apps and websites. Take Google Maps for example. Whenever you see a website with a Google Map on it, it must likely used Python and the Google Map API to allow you to search for a location.  But I will let the experts explain:

Python is a general purpose programming language created in the late 1980s, and named after Monty Python, that’s used by thousands of people to do things from testing microchips at Intel, to powering Instagram, to building video games with the PyGame library.

– Treehouse (online technology school)

The course 
For the past 8 weeks, I have been learning about external APIs, how to use the command line and even a bit of the dreaded Github. But, the most important lessons that I gained were from the people that I met and the growth that I experienced from challenging myself not to quit.
Balancing learning how to code with law school, as you can imagine, is tough!
Hence why, I didn’t write about how the course was going weekly, but I will try my best to pack an 8-week course into one post!

 You have to be willing to put the work in

I had a few hiccups
There was only so much that the instructors could teach us in 8 weeks. Therefore, it was important that I went over what we were taught, outside of classes. This is so that I could check that I actually understood what I was being taught and not just copying out the code. Luckily, the instructors warned us at the beginning of the course that we would get the most out of it if we used additional online resources.

During the course, I got stuck on how to use another computer language (FLASK), to integrate my Python code with HTML. I asked one of the tutors if they would be willing to meet with me outside of class so that I would not fall behind and she kindly agreed. I was so glad that I did because at that point I was really started to wonder whether I had made the right choice in deciding to apply for the advanced course.

I had a million questions, but honestly not much time. It took a couple of weeks for me to realise that it was that little bit of extra effort which would enable me to get the most out of the course. Even if it’s just one hour of coding a day, it made all of the difference.
So yes, coding is fun, but like any language, you have to be willing but the time in to continuously develop your skill. Most times, it’s not the difficulty of your venture that is the problem. It’s your ability to make the time to put in the work so that it doesn’t feel that difficult anymore.

You don’t have to do it alone

Team spirit
Learning how to code is a lot more fun when you don’t do it alone. For the past 8 weeks I have been surrounded by an amazing group of girls that were also interested in technology which made the experience even more enjoyable. I knew that if I was ever stuck on something, I was most likely not the only one. So it was difficult to get discouraged.

It also reminded me that I am not alone in this. I had a few friends encouraging me to learn how to code when I was developing my interest in technology, but I was the only girl. So it was great to be part of a community of other women that are all pursuing their interest.

So if you do want to learn how to code, grab a friend!

There is no cookie cutter coder

Inspirational talks
One of my favourite bits of the course was the weekly talks we had from Twitter employees on their coding journey. For instance, Charlotte who is pictured above, studied languages at University, thought she would become an academic and now she is off to learn how to code with Makers Academy and then she will be joining ThoughtWorks.
It was so inspiring to hear from different women why they chose to work at Twitter and to hear that you don’t have to have a computer science degree to have a space in technology. If you have an interest in learning how to code, there are a ton of resources and organisations, like Code First: Girls, that can support you.

It was also inspiring to learn about the participants on the course. We all came from different backgrounds. Some were librarians, others were working in finance and heck I am in law school! But we were all joined by an interest in seeing where coding can take us and that’s all you need. The initial spark or idea that you have, it could turn into something great if you decide to follow it.

I am not sure exactly where my coding journey is going to take me next, but I am definitely going to find out.

Sign at the Twitter office

For more information on Code First: Girls please visit (girls only): http://www.codefirstgirls.org.uk



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