Rails Girls Berlin “Wall of Fame”
This a series of interviews with women, who have made their way into coding.
Check out their stories, get inspired!
I was unhappily working in marketing which was not intellectually stimulating enough for me. I need to be challenged, and to be able to learn something every day. This is what is rewarding for me in a job.
Name: Linda Bergen
Job: Marketing Manager, soon-to-be Junior Web Developer 🙂
Website: linda-website.bitballoon.com (work-in-progress)
Hi Linda, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your educational background.
I have a Bachelor’s of Social Sciences in International Studies and Modern Languages from the University of Ottawa, and a Master’s of Law in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Renmin University of China in Beijing. I still am interested in politics, however, to get a foot in the door in this world, you need to do lots of unpaid internships. This wasn’t an option for me, having moved to Berlin right after I graduated from my Master’s degree.
How did you get to know about Rails Girls Berlin?
I have a few friends involved in various Girls in Tech initiatives around Europe, and I thought I would check locally to see which organizations in Berlin offered free beginner’s workshops, and this is how I found Rails Girls Berlin.
Why did you join the workshop and what was your impression of it afterwards?
At first I wasn’t sure if programming was something I would be interested in, as I had thought it was more heavily mathematics and algorithms-based, both of which are not my strong suit. I applied for the workshop in October 2015, and was accepted! I didn’t know what to expect, but my experience was very positive and completely changed my perspective.
Everyone was so warm, welcoming and encouraging. I came out of the workshop feeling very motivated and supported, and this is definitely the turning point which inspired me to dive deeper into coding.
Had you any previous programming experiences before?
Absolutely zero, other than one HTML class in middle school (in 2001-02).
How did you continue learning?
I enrolled in a six-month part-time course with the company CareerFoundry, which offers online mentor-based learning. I signed up for the web development track, which focuses for the first two months on building a static website using HTML and CSS. The second part of the course has the students building a consumer web-app using Ruby on Rails. As I was working full-time, I could only work on this course on the evenings and weekends from January-June, which got increasingly difficult as the weather got nicer. In the end I succeeded, and passed the course in July 2016.
What was the biggest obstacle during your learning process?
Even though I have successfully completed the course and am have started to interview for web developer positions, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is myself. Imposter syndrome is something I am facing every day, especially as a woman in this industry. Each interview I do gives me more experience and confidence, and I hope this will only improve over time.
When and how did you decide to change your profession?
I was unhappily working in marketing which was not intellectually stimulating enough for me. I need to be challenged, and to be able to learn something every day. This is what is rewarding for me in a job. As I mentioned before, I didn’t know much about programming but I thought I had nothing to lose by going to a beginner’s workshop, and this workshop really inspired me to make a change in my life.
Were you afraid of that step? If so, how do you think about it in retrospective? Was there a reason to be afraid?
No, I was not afraid. I am excited about new challenges, and believe they can help you grow as a person.
What do you like the most about your new profession?
I am currently looking for a full-time position, and would like to have something lined up for November 1st 2016, which would be exactly one year after my first introduction to coding.
What is your advice to women who want to learn coding?
Just give it a shot! Many new unexpected doors have opened themselves to me since I embarked on this journey, and I am nothing but excited for the future! Apply for beginner’s workshops, there are many awesome initiatives in many major cities around the world.
Your extra question from Lucie Höhler: What was the biggest surprise when you were learning to code?
How much I would like it! Of course it can be frustrating at times, but those little breakthroughs make it totally worth it.