Guest Post by Melissa Rivosecchi: Ladies Learning Code

It’s Fall semester, and that means first year SIS students are trying to make it through GLIS 617. Some of you may be breezing through it, while others may be really struggling. Just know that if you’re struggling, it is totally normal; a lot of us second years felt the same way last year.

Hopefully no tears have been shed (it’s not worth it!)

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Last Fall, I struggled with 617. I was a mess when it came to trying to solve those questions on the quizzes, yet when I saw the answers I was able to break down the code and understand it. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as I went to all the labs and I asked questions. It felt like my brain just couldn’t grasp being able to write the code from scratch. Thanks to the help of my classmates, I was able to make it through the course. However, because I felt so stressed during that first semester, I don’t feel like I was able to grasp everything I should have from the course.

After Fall semester ended, I was apprehensive about registering for any second year courses that had 617 as a prerequisite. Just before the holiday break, one of my classmates introduced me to Ladies Learning Code (LLC)*, a non-profit group that introduces people to beginner-level technical skills in a collaborative workshop atmosphere. There are chapters set up all across Canada, and the main lab is based in Toronto. The Learning Labs offer various workshops including intro to photoshop, intro to javascript, intro to HTML + CSS, CSS fundamentals for beginners,…and much more.

Last January, a bunch of us gals from class decided to sign up for the one-day Intro to HTML + CSS one-day workshop that was held in Montreal. Lead by industry professionals, every aspect of the workshop was well organized. There is a guaranteed 4:1 (or better) student to mentor ratio and the volunteer mentors sat at each table and were there to help answer any questions. The mentors were knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to help. The workshop gave us hands-on experience; we were guided each step of the way and were given plenty of time to complete each task. By the end of the day we each created our own beautiful web page! Although there was a $50 fee for the workshop, I felt that I totally got my money’s worth. The collaborative, social, positive, and stress-free atmosphere made me realize I wanted to learn more about HTML and gave me the confidence to register for the web design class offered by SIS next winter semester.

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Let’s face it: although many of us will probably not end up being programmers, learning basic digital literacy skills like HTML + CSS is an asset when it comes to employment opportunities. Last year, I spoke to one professional who said the web design class at SIS was really helpful because she ended up working in a small town public library where she was responsible for maintaining the library’s website. You don’t have to be an expert, but learning the basics can help show future employers that you are willing to get outside your comfort zone and learn new skills.

I encourage you to check out LLC and if you see a workshop that interests you, get a bunch of your friends together and make a day of it. Going to a workshop like those organized by LLC can open up different possibilities you might not have thought about previously.

Check out this video if you would like to learn more about LLC. You can also subscribe to their mailing list, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

*Note: men are also welcome to attend the workshops, however LLC asks that, when possible, a female learner be brought to the workshop!

Melissa Rivosecchi

About the author: Melissa Rivosecchi is a second-year MLIS student specializing in librarianship. She is the current president for the Canadian Library Association McGill Student Chapter (CLAMSC), as well as the Chief Returning Officer Parliamentarian for the McGill Information Studies Student Association (MISSA). Her interests include embedded librarianship, GIS, and pizza. 

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