What is your background? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I studied to be a counsellor and worked as one for a few years in India before moving to Sweden. I worked on creating awareness programs and conducting those programs in schools. During my time in Sweden, I also spent a year at the university studying a few courses in early childhood education.

Do you think that your background gives you many advantages as a junior developer now?
Part of my training as a counsellor required a lot of self-work and working on developing my interpersonal skills. I think that has allowed me to be a good team player in terms of how I communicate, the language that I use, and my ability to listen and work through conflicts.

What made you interested in a career as a developer? And do you remember what the first moment was when you realised you want to try programming?
Struggling to find a job in Sweden that I could be passionate about made me start to learn more about programming and decide to try it by taking a few courses online. From the moment I started learning how to code and building my first HTML and CSS website, I was hooked, mostly because I believe that developing the programming skills will enable me to work in organisations that are creating products that benefit society.

Are there any blogs or books about programming that you can recommend?
As a podcast listener, I have found a few that help me stay inspired and focused on this journey and which also share a few tips and explain concepts. These are Learn to code with me, The CodeNewbie and Base CS.

What are the advantages and challenges of learning at SmartCoding?
One advantage is that it is a space which offers us resources and mentors who can guide us on our path to becoming better programmers. Secondly, it provides a group of people who are on a similar journey and who help and encourage each other. Thirdly, it provides the opportunity to work on a real project, which teaches us more about how to work together as a group.

One challenge is the relatively short period of time that we meet for, which makes it hard to keep a sense of flow going. I also felt the need for a few more instructional classes to help complement the self-learning that happens.

How is the teamwork and pair programming going for you?
The teamwork has been rewarding as well as challenging sometimes. I have learnt a lot from discussing tasks with the other girls and asking them for help. The pair programming was at times challenging because of the short amount of time that we meet for.

What is your opinion about the real IT project you are working on during the classes?
I have enjoyed working on the project and have learned a lot from thinking about all the different aspects of creating a web product.

Apart from the teacher, there is a group of mentors available to support the group in coding classes. Do you use that support, do you think it’s needed?
I would definitely say that the extra support was appreciated, especially when I was stuck on a problem that we couldn’t work out on our own. An additional benefit would be if we had more workshops and classes conducted by the mentors that briefly covered some of the different technologies and concepts we needed to know.

Do you see any new opportunities after the graduation that could help you to do something that you’ve always dreamt of?
I have always wanted to work with something that benefits the society in a large scale in some way, and I feel like there are so many tech products and services that are attempting to address and make an impact on certain issues that plague society today. And so having taken these first steps towards becoming a developer – I feel like I have the possibility to join some of these companies and contribute to making the world a better place to live in.

Will you, or are you already joining any tech events dedicated to women?
I have not yet joined any tech events dedicated to women, I would be interested in doing so in the future since I see that as a venue to be encouraged and motivated, while also meeting other women in tech that I could connect with.

Looking from a time perspective, is there anything you would change, do differently as it comes to start learning programming?
I think it helps to have a plan for setting aside a certain amount of time every day to focus on learning and practising some coding, and I wasn’t always very good at planning out my time. So I would say ensuring that you start with a plan is important. The amount of time dedicated to each day could vary depending on other responsibilities, but dedicating a minimum of 2 hours would definitely go a long way with one’s learning and practice.

What would you say to a woman, who, same as you a few months ago, wants to become a developer without having an IT background?
I would encourage every person who has an interest in becoming a developer to give it a shot. I believe that everyone has the capability to do so and that it can be a very rewarding path to take.

What should all beginners in programming be ready for?
They need to be ready for a lot of hard work, a willingness to constantly be learning new things, frustration at times when things don’t always work or make sense but also a sense of accomplishment when concepts start to make sense and your code works.

Ayesha