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First Django Girls coding event held in Chester

Words and photos: Tori Erskine

Chester’s first ever Django Girls event has taken place at Realbuzz Group in City Place.

The event was hosted and organised by Liam Cookson, who you may remember gave We Are Chester a bit of an insight into Django Girls Chester a few weeks ago.  

If you don’t already know who Django Girls are, Liam explained that the group “aim to decrease the gender gap in the tech industry and empower women into IT careers. It’s a worldwide charity that has reached thousands of women so far.”

Everyone welcome

No matter what your IT abilities are, everyone is welcome. Whether you’ve dabbled in coding before, or like myself are a complete beginner – I chose GCSE Music instead of ICT, just to give you a complete perspective of my IT skills!

What I particularly enjoyed about the day was meeting girls of all ages, from different career paths and hearing why they’d come along. From freelancers, to those who already had their foot in the door in the IT industry.

When going along to events like this, I think it’s really important to think about what you want to achieve from it. Whilst I’m by no means the next IT specialist, working in marketing, as everything is becoming more digital orientated, I wanted to learn a bit more about the behind the scenes of a website, and just in general gain more confidence in my computer skills!

We arrived to the Realbuzz Group’s office on Friday evening; the bright, vibrant office was the perfect place to get inspired and motivated for our coding journeys! We had the opportunity to mingle, grab some freebies, and get our software installed and set-up ahead of our Saturday session.

Web development

For anyone who doesn’t know what the days entail, Liam explained: “We run a workshop that follows a tutorial, but we also want people to get an insight into what working as a web developer means. That means team working, using research skills, and learning from repetition, amongst lots of other things.”

On Saturday morning, we were greeted with croissants, pastries, and most importantly, tea and coffee, which was the perfect start to the day ahead. 

After a brief intro, we were divided into groups and got started. Each group had a mentor from the tech industry, who were all so patient and helpful. It was also reassuring to know that even they came across errors in their day-to-day coding lives.

Blog building

Our goal for the day was to build a blog. We used Python, GitHub, and I also used BBEdit. For me, the day was a really good way of putting problem solving into practice. It can sometimes be frustrating, and easy to give up on technology when it’s not going your way, but when it did work, it was so rewarding to see it all come together as we went along. My group had Doug as our mentor who was a great help and brilliant with any questions that we had – I had a lot!

We learnt how to add blog posts to the site we had created, as well as customising the design of the blog.

Sadly, my PythonAnywhere password let me down when it came to the end when we had to ‘deploy’ our sites, but I’m determined to get my website live online.

Inspiring talk

For anyone who is thinking about a career in IT, wants to learnt a bit more about coding, or just in general wants to learn a new skill, Django Girls is an amazing opportunity to do so. Everyone was so friendly and supportive, and it was really inspiring to be in such a positive environment. I especially enjoyed Raul Tavares’s talk, where he shared the inspirational stories of women throughout history who have shaped technology and our way of thinking today.

Liam also told We Are Chester how happy he was with the event: “I’m thrilled that so many people applied and came along to learn some coding skills and make their first website. The day has been so much fun, it’s been excellent to see people learning together and being inspired.

“Even the mentors have learned things from the beginners, and have been impressed with everyone’s abilities. We couldn’t have done it without the help of all our sponsors and partners in the community, and to the volunteer coaches who gave up their time to be here.

“Thanks to our sponsor Code Nation, we were able to give away two places on their 12-week, full time Master: Coding course, which takes you from complete beginner to a ready-to-work junior developer with an average starting salary of £23k. We’re so thrilled with Code Nation’s commitment to diversity in the tech industry and their generosity to our cause.”

I definitely recommend keeping an eye out for further upcoming Django Girls events, including Django Girls Chester 2020 of course. If you can’t wait until then, Liam hosts the monthly CodeUp meetings in Chester, which are another great opportunity to learn more about coding, and meet new people too! Join their MeetUp page here: https://www.meetup.com/CodeUp-Chester/

The Django Girls Chester event was sponsored by: Elastic, Code Nation, GitHub, and venue sponsor, The Realbuzz Group, all their details can be found here:

Elastic – https://www.elastic.co/

Code Nation – https://wearecodenation.com/
GitHub – https://github.com/

The Realbuzz Group – https://www.therealbuzzgroup.com/

For upcoming news about Django Girls, you can visit: https://djangogirls.org/chester/

About Angela Ferguson (166 Articles)
I'm a writer, journalist and blogger, as well as the founder and editor of culture webzine wearechester.co.uk. I'm also a university lecturer in journalism and media communications and a radio presenter for hire.

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