Sally Poundall was elected to have the best final project from this summer's Code First: Girls course with her site Language Love Letters. She won a brand new Nokia Lumia phone, presented to her by Sherry Coutu, and is now returning to complete her final year of university. Here is her account of this summer:
"When I turned up to the first Code First: Girls session at the beginning of July I really had no idea what to expect. I wanted to learn to code, although truth be told, what ‘learning to code’ really meant I wasn’t quite sure. Technology seemed a bit like magic – you click a few buttons and cool stuff happens. I had no idea how it all worked and, like all things magical, the thought of coding seemed both amazing and intimidating at the same time.
"At the end of the course I brought all my new-found knowledge together and I built an app that allows you to send a personalized love message to someone in a different language in just a few clicks. It was the perfect project for me because it combined my passion for languages with my new coding skills. I got the idea when I came across this quote from Nelson Mandela: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart.’ From my own experience this is so very true, and so I thought it would be a nice idea to set up an app that would allow people to send romantic messages to their partner in their native language. Given that when I started the course the sum of my coding knowledge was how to make a space in HTML, it’s incredible how much I’ve learnt in the space of just nine weeks. Yet all this great tech stuff aside, the most valuable thing that Code First: Girls gave me was a change in attitude. Technology can still seem a bit like magic at times, but learning the basics of coding has broken down the seemingly impenetrable walls surrounding this incredible world of tech and made me realize that you don’t have to have super powers to be able to build this stuff. I now look at apps on my phone and have a rough idea of how they might work. What’s more, coding no longer scares me. If I have an idea for a website or an app I’m creating, I no longer automatically think ‘I can’t do that’ but instead I know that with some perseverance and a little help from Google I can make my ideas reality.
"It’s great how much technical knowledge I’ve gained from Code First:Girls, but to say that’s all I’ve come away with would be doing the course a great disservice. Learning to code with the other girls has been so much fun and I’ve come away with a fantastic group of new friends and an invaluable network of incredible young women. Tom and the teaching assistants were great with us and created a really friendly atmosphere in which we all felt no question was too silly to ask. If someone had told me before the course how much fun I was going to have with Code First: Girls this summer I probably wouldn’t have believed them. But I’m telling you, it was a fantastic experience and I honestly couldn’t recommend it highly enough."
This week saw the closing ceremony for our first group of Code First: Girls graduates. The event was a symbol of how far the coders, and the project, have come. Aside from the amazing views across London from Level 39 at Canary Wharf, the tech demo’s from Entrepreneur First’s latest cohort businesses Weave and Code A Thing, and the (all too) bottomless bar of social lubricants, it was a pretty awesome evening. Here’s what happened:
We had a fantastic guest speaker in Sherry Coutu, an incredible female entrepreneur who has built and sold two large businesses. She is now an angel investor, board member for multiple organisations, and regular speaker for top business schools. Sherry spoke on her early experiences of coding, highlighting the advantage it gives female entrepreneurs, and the important role Code First: Girls has empowering women in tech.
Another highlight was Chloe Donegan’s speech: having graduated from Code First: Girls she has gone on to found her own start-up, Weave, through the Entrepreneur First accelerator. Chloe made a big impact on all the investors, journalists, and potential future Code First girls and explained how she went from thinking coding was ‘a mystery’ to ‘actually fun and essential'.
As part of Code First: Girls, the coders had to create a grand finale product which was put to the vote by the class. Sally Poundall was elected winner with her creative Language Love Letters, a result of her new coding skills, passion for languages, and confidence that ‘men will love it’.
Alice and Matt, Co-Founders of Code First: Girls’s umbrella organisation Entrepreneur First, gave a rousing explanation for their motivations and ambitions for the project. Course instructor and tech genius Tom Close later stole the show, however, as he tried to slip away early only to blocked with a thank you from the Code First: Girls class.
After this point memories fade as the guests, investors, journalists and coders became better acquainted with each other, and also with the bar.
Code First: Girls