Written by Veronika Suhareva, edited by Laurel Freyja.
“Honestly, I don’t want to tell the truth about this course. Because it’s sooo cool, and everybody might want to take it.”
This summer, Riga TechGirls offered a generous discount for a three-month course at JavaGuru which enabled six women to have the opportunity to study object-oriented programming in Java. The women had weekly classes with homework to work on for the rest of the week. At the end of the course, the goal was to be able to write small programs and to be familiar with language syntax and object-oriented programming.
JavaGuru courses were created by a group of professional software developers who wanted to share their knowledge with future IT professionals. The purpose of the courses is to prepare students for professional work in the field of software development from a practical point of view. JavaGuru believes that “everyone can master IT”. All you need is strong motivation and the will to commit time for regular classes and practice. A professional team of tutors will teach you “real programming, rather than just theoretical basics”.
Java is one of the most popular and in-demand programming languages, and it is appealing to women like any other natural language like French or Portuguese. With the help of Riga TechGirls, six women set forth to study Java at JavaGuru. Four women of the group kindly shared feedback to us. Below is what we learned from Marija, Anna, Darja, and Linda who took the course.
The women we spoke with believe that the knowledge of Java offers a big advantage and a plus to their CV.
Marija: “I think that knowledge of Java can help you not only in coding. It`s frequently used in many business projects. Maybe you do not want to become a Java developer, but the basic understanding of Java still gives you an advantage in other positions.”
Marija herself was inspired to start learning a complex programming language after attending the “Draw it with Java” workshop organized by Riga TechGirls. Anna and Darja had prior knowledge or experience in the technology field — Anna is studying computer science, and Darja is working as a manual tester. Both felt the need to build new technical and professional skills. The last attendee, Linda, didn’t have previous exposure to programming, but was very curious to know more about Java and “to have a taste of programming”.
Even though there are numerous materials, tutorials, and online courses available for those wanting to “speak” Java, our four attendees decided to learn together in a group at JavaGuru courses. The women desired a mentor to help them out and to give professional feedback. They also found practice and real tasks to be motivating. One woman mentioned that she tried to learn programming by herself while watching video tutorials, but she didn’t see any output without real practice. They also found that “real” in-person classes with homework gave them more motivation.
An added benefit is that there is always someone available when the help is needed. The women also mentioned that learning in a group environment is faster and much easier. They noted the warm atmosphere at JavaGuru courses, where learning was done in a fun way, and everything from simplest questions to “global issues” was explained step-by-step. For a newbie, even the simplest tiny thing can cause a lot of struggle or lead to a loss of motivation.
This is exactly where an experienced mentor can help. The women emphasized the work of their tutor, whom they found to be very devoted and helpful — one mentioned how he quickly found a right answer to her question on a late Sunday evening.
Marija: “Coding is logic, it is knowledge and creativity. But first of all coding is an experience. And a really cool thing that I liked about JavaGuru is that tutors are sharing their own experience: in coding, work, and life in general.”
Even though the courses are over now, the women sometimes communicate with their tutor and ask for advice such as how to improve existing technical knowledge and how to start working in IT.
In addition to materials presented during the lectures and workshops, the attendees received access to numerous materials, including books and videos. Their access to intranet sharing space has remained open even after they finished the course which gives them the ability to revise the material and continue learning new things at any time.
The women found the courses very intensive. Most of them liked having a lot of home tasks to do and enjoyed solving a hundred cases — some simple, some very object-oriented nutcrackers. Linda, who didn’t have any prior programming knowledge and any spare time to devote for home works, additional learning and research, found learning difficult for herself.
Acquiring a programming language demands time, practice, motivation, and constant learning — just as any normal human language. Indeed, no one can become a developer in one day, but we shouldn’t be afraid to start or to be disrupted by our mistakes — every little step helps. If you are not afraid of working hard and failing sometimes — you’ll acquire any complicated programming language.
After completing the course, the women didn’t lose interest in coding, and desire to learn more about programming languages and technology.
Anna: “I want to develop myself in the technology field and pick up as many events, information and courses as I physically can.”
After finishing JavaGuru course, Anna would like to work in IT: “My aim is to find something I can be really cool in. Not just a “job”, but a way in which I can self-fulfill, show ingenuity, and to do my work with passion. I think learning Java is a good start anyway!”
Darja sees the completed JavaGuru courses as a new step towards a new path in her career: “It was valuable as it helped me to move forward with switching to a more technical stage in my professional life. I think it will be a good point in my CV, but mostly it is valuable because of the gained knowledge.”
We were curious to hear why women think it’s important for women to know more about technology. We learned that women find technology and IT to be interesting, perspective, and intellectual.
Marija: “The main thing I’ve learned is to get immersed in the task, to be as focused as possible, but at the same time to be creative. I like coding — it makes you think. It`s a big challenge for your logical skills, thinking, and creativity.
Technology is not future — it’s present. It is around us, and it’s everywhere. Even an electronic clock has its own code. As technology is an important part of everyday life you should know how it works. This knowledge gives us the power.”
Darja thinks it is important for both men and women to learn more about technology and IT, as “we are moving towards a more automated lifestyle. It is exciting how we can simplify our lives with technology, and as more people are technology educated, the faster progress will be.”
Linda: “Girls need to get into technical industries just because the majority of women have been held back from it for too long. But girls are as smart and technical as boys are and if they have not had the opportunity to have a good education in the technical field when they were kids, they should try it later anyway just because they might as well love it in the end!”
Anna also emphasized that “it’s very important for women to support each other in this mainly “men’s job”. The women also noted the contribution of Riga TechGirl for inspiring women to getting into IT:
Anna: “Riga TechGirls is a perfect place, where you can pick up new information, gain new skills and collaborate with co-thinkers. I don’t know if here in Latvia anyone else organizes such great events.”
Riga TechGirls is delighted to hear that the three month JavaGuru course was personally beneficial to this group of women. We look forward to seeing how they continue to develop on their learning journey. Thanks to Anna Kodina, Marija Berjoza, Darja Barabash, and Linda Micule for sharing their experiences with us!