DjangoGirls London

Last weekend I had the pleasure to coach at Django Girls London. It was my third event as a coach, and fifth in total (or ‘as anything’, as I wittily put it during my intro on Saturday morning).

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the amazing organisers – Ola, Rina and Olivia, who made the event amazing in so many new ways. This workshop has really been an important learning experience for me, both as a coach and an organiser. So, what was so perfect about it?

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let’s (installation) party!

While I am fully aware that this is not always possible to organise, I have to admit I found the day before installation party extremely beneficial for a couple of reasons – first, the installation could be done in person, and as you can probably imagine, it goes much smoother this way. No need to share screens, no problems with weak Internet connection or outdated Skype versions. Secondly, there was time for talks – Ola shed some light on how the Internet works, Dori and Sandra shared their professional stories, Eleonore talked about PyLadies and Naomi gave a brilliantly inspiring talk about the impostor syndrome. Afterwards everyone stuck around to have a beer and network. Having only 10 hours of the workshop itself, I think this time is crucial if you wish to meet new people with whom the contact won’t be cut the minute you leave the workshop venue (and if you decided to take part in DjangoGirls, chances are you do!).

 

there’s more to sponsorship than money

Another first at DG London were two contests, in which the attendees could win books and a Raspberry Pi starter kit (I know, right?!). Both competitions were Twitter-based and the tasks were either to take a creative picture with the sponsor’s sticker or say why diversity in tech is important. While for obvious reasons as an organiser you mainly look for sponsors who can provide you with money (or food and T-shirts/stickers/gadgets), there is a space limit to every swag table and the idea of a contest is invaluable on so many levels: it makes the attendees excited in moments when their programming energy may be running short (which is around 4 – 5 PM at every event I’ve ever attended) and introduces them to Twitter! As strange as it sounds, ‘Intro to Twitter’ should seriously be a thing at all the DjangoGirls workshops. Most of the beginners I met (or myself not even a full year ago) don’t use it and treat Facebook as their main social medium, while it is Twitter where everything tech-related is born, discussed and spread. Try finding any useful info about any conference on Facebook. Sure, you’ll find their fan page, but only to be redirected to their Twitter and / or website. I was happy to see at least three girls at DG London who “renewed” their Twitter accounts and were surprised to hear how important it is in the tech field. I’d say one could go even further at their event and recommend some accounts to follow – e.g. Django Girls main account, local DG and PyLadies accounts, etc.

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One additional point about the contests – to make it super-turbo-uber awesome and multipurpose, they could involve some team building! I’d say it’s especially important during one day workshops where the networking part is limited. Actually, we have had some suggestions as to include team building activities after DjangoGirls Amsterdam, but we rejected those ideas quickly since they involved introducing a competition dynamic in regard to the tutorial completion, which we found unacceptable (of course).

Generally speaking it seems to be a very good time for Django Girls. It becomes easier and easier to organise an event, as resources, help and support network have grown with time. I’m so happy to see second editions coming – there already were two events in Groningen and there are some first clues about Budapest having a second go, too. I’m also super thrilled to help with getting DG Cardiff up and running, and can’t wait to coach in Montreal!

 

Hugs, cupcakes and high-fives!

{an official DjangoGirls greeting}

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