Best of 2015: Learning to Code!

2015 was a year in which I started achieving some real progress in my MA course. I gave my first conference paper at the annual School of Languages and Cultures postgraduate colloquium and I successfully honed my writing skills to produce some top-notch essays for the taught part of my degree.

That all makes me sound like a complete bore, obsessed with my academic work, which I can be most of the time. When you study part-time and work alongside you are ALWAYS tired. Without my passion for my subject I would not be able to motivate myself to hit the books and the laptop, scouring for the umpteenth journal article that week, when all I want to do is relax with some vinyl records and a G&T. That being said, I also like to pursue other interests with the little spare time I allow myself, and at the end of 2015 I was able to cross a long-standing interest off my list: coding.

streets of sheff

Whilst de-cluttering my uni-inbox I stumbled across an email advertising a free six-week course for female students to learn basic coding skills and how to create your own website. I have always found technology fascinating so this was the perfect opportunity to demystify the behind-the-scenes nature of the internet. I filled out the application immediately and was lucky enough to receive a place.

Run by Code First: Girls, an organisation that works with universities and businesses to increase the number of women in tech, I got the chance to acquire the building block programming languages of web design: HTML, CSS and jquery. Under the helpful guidance of student and professional tutors taking the course, we were able to create a website in teams of two in the final two weeks and present it to the course. My team even managed to come a close second to the winner and I was astounded at just how many skills myself and all the participants had acquired in just six weeks!

I’m hoping to use these skills to code my own personal website in the format of an online-CV, through which I can showcase my new coding skills alongside professional and academic achievements. I didn’t think tech was for me. I was convinced for a long time that anybody who works in tech is a self-taught, bedroom whizz-kid. I actually found that my attention to detail in spotting correct adjective endings in German grammar came in handy when trying to spot missing tags in code. (A good knowledge of Chomskyan syntactic theory from my Linguistics background also didn’t hurt). It’s because of extra-curricular opportunities like these that I love being part of the university community, where I still benefit even as a postgrad!

If coding is something that you too would like to learn, Code Academy is a great website that has interactive courses for FREE for multiple programming languages. You can’t beat the satisfaction you get once you’ve managed to solve a problem that has given you code rage for hours!

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