How I Got Involved with Girl Develop It and Why You Should Too

By tessa on September 11, 2017

Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and their everyday lives.

New City Means New Networking Opportunities

I had recently moved to the Minneapolis area from a very small town. I was excited to network and meet other developers and see what the area had to offer. Check out Meetup for the very first time, I stumbled upon the Girl Develop It Minneapolis group. I noticed they were looking for Teaching Assistants for their next Intro to HTML & CSS class, so I volunteered. TAs help the students during the classes so the instructor can continue to teach.

After TA-ing my first class I was hooked. I LOVED helping women learn to code. As a strictly self-taught developer, I really wish this organization would have been around when I was learning. As the class wrapped up, one of the chapter leaders asked if I would be interested in teaching a class of my own. I had never taught before. That didn’t matter to me, I wanted to be a part of this organization in any way possible, so I immediately agreed to give it a try.

We decided I could teach a follow up class to the Intro to HTML & CSS offering. This class had never been offered before, which meant I had a lot of curriculum to build. Volunteering as a TA was awesome, but volunteering as a teacher—building out lessons and objectives for an entirely new course—felt even more amazing. It was incredibly rewarding to have students come up to me after class asking questions, telling me their stories, and thanking me for teaching the class.

I continued to TA and started building additional curriculums for other classes, including Intro to WordPress and a third level of HTML & CSS. I enjoyed being involved so much that I decided to get involved with the leadership team, which is comprised of some of the most passionate and amazing women I have ever met. We focused on growing the chapter and empowering women to feel comfortable learning to code. We accomplished so many things, but one thing that really sticks out to me is the Front End Developer Series. This is a series of classes that women are able to take in sequential order with the support of fellow students as well as an assigned mentor that they can turn to with questions. We do this series a couple times per year and I was lucky enough to teach and mentor so many amazing women when I taught this course.

Looking back at our graduates page, I am proud to see so many women that ended up attending development bootcamps or continued self-learning and are now successful developers.

Becoming a Chapter Leader

When a chapter leader role became available, I knew immediately it was a new way for me to further serve the organization. As a chapter leader, I communicated and worked with Girl Develop It HQ as well as many other chapter leaders across the country. It was such an amazing group of women, all with the same mission to empower women. I was invited to attend the Girl Develop It Summit in Austin, TX in October 2016. The goal of the Summit is to provide chapters leaders with opportunities to connect, and to receive training to help them continue to be the ambassadors for their chapter.

Don’t Be Shy, Get Involved!

The Minneapolis chapter of Girl Develop It is having their third anniversary party on Thursday, September 14th in downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks away from the local Pantheon office. Pantheon has always been incredibly supportive with my community involvement, including sponsoring the anniversary party this year (thanks guys!). The awesome thing about the anniversary party is that it’s the one time each year that we raise funds for the chapter. These funds are used throughout the year to support our chapter, as well as offer scholarships to women who are not able to afford the cost of classes.

If you are interested in supporting the Minneapolis chapter or a chapter in your area, you can make an online donation and mention the chapter you want to support.

If you are local to Minneapolis and interested in taking a class, I will be teaching the following courses over the next couple of months:

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