I Am The Unicorn | WTR 46

I Am The Unicorn | WTR 46

Sara is a software engineer with a journalism and digital/social media startup background. She began to learn code using Codeschool & Codecademy.

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Show Notes:


ANGELA: This is Women’s Tech Radio.
PAIGE: A show on the Jupiter Broadcasting Network, interviewing interesting women in technology. Exploring their roles and how they’re successful in technology careers. I’m Paige.
ANGELA: And I’m Angela.
PAIGE: Well, Angela, this week we have Sara joining us and she is a new coder out in Austin and she talks us through her journey and just some really awesome stories about how she got here and what’s she’s been through. It’s a great interview.
ANGELA: It is. And before we get into it, I just want to mention that you can support Women’s Tech Radio by going to patreon.com/jupitersignal. That is a general bucket that supports the entire network, but more specifically, because you listen to Women’s Tech Radio, you are supporting us as well. So go to Patreon.com/today.
PAIGE: And we get into our interview today by asking Sara what she’s up to in technology today.
SARA: Essentially, right now, I”m a software developer. I live in Austin, Texas. I was a journalist and i worked in digital media for ten years prior to making that transition, which I did with the help of a code bootcamp in Los Angeles called Sabio, which focuses particularly on women and minorities, trying to diversify the tech scene out there. So currently I’ve been working on UIs, utilizing Angular, Bootstrap, and C#.
PAIGE: How do you wrap the C# into that?
SARA: So, essentially, you’re building the UI out for this device and the back end is being written in Java, so we’re writing a dummy backend or whatever in C# just to be able to test the UI out.
PAIGE: That makes sense. Awesome. So it sounds like you’ve had kind of a fun journey. Did you start in Austin and end up back there? How did that all go around?
SARA: Yeah, sure. It’s kind of a funny story, just because I ended up moving between LA. I ended up back and forth between La and Texas so many times I would literally be in Austin saying hey, I’m going to LA and everyone asked me, didn’t you just move here? And I’be be like yes, but I”m going back. ANd then I’d be back in LA and everyone is like hey didn’t you just move to Texas?
SARA: So my family is actually from a town here on the Texas border called Eagle Pass and my dad went to grad school in LA at UCLA. And so, ended up living in LA for part of my childhood. And then moved to San Antonio, finished high school out here. Went to school in California. Worked in Texas. Moved to California. Moved back to Texas. Moved to California. Moved back to Texas. So it was really just something that, I think you know, you become a grown up and you say hey what kind of quality of life is for me and personally I, most of my family is in Texas and the pace is just a little bit more my speed, because being stuck in traffic in LA just wasn’t as fun for me anymore. So, yeah, so Austin is great. I think sometimes it as a little bit of a small town for someone who’s use to something bigger. But what I really like about Austin, what I really appreciate, particularly in the tech scene and a lot of the work I do with Women Who Code, is that it’s really easy to know people and get to know people and network with people. And you can literally meet a CEO somewhere, connect with them on LinkedIn, get coffee with them. It’s really kind of a more intimate community, I think, than like a place where LA where there’s just, first of all, it’s just hard to meet people because you have to go across this huge 60 square mile area just to get anywhere. And then you can’t even just get there, you have to fight traffic. And once you get there everyone is very much interested in who are you, what can you do for me, why would I want to talk to you.
ANGELA: It sounds a lot like Austin is very much like Portland.
SARA: Uh, yeah, you know, I haven’t-
PAIGE: This is a frequent comparison that is made.
SARA: Really?
ANGELA: Is it?
PAIGE: Yeah. It’s why we share the slogan keep it weird.
SARA: Keep it weird.
ANGELA: Yeah. Paige is from Portland, so.
SARA: Oh, that’s cool. My brother went to Reede. He’s a graduate, so that’s really the only time I’ve ever been to Portland. I can’t really speak, but it was really nice when I was there. Just a little bit cold for my taste.
PAIGE: It is. The seasons are a bit, it gets cold. I would rather live in the LA area mostly, but I detest cars and traffic for the most part. If I can avoid using a car I will opt for that every time.
SARA: I feel you girl. I’m right there with you.
PAIGE: What do you think is, besides the, so you’ve kind of outlined why LA is not the scene that Austin is, but what do you think it is that makes Austin the scene it is? Because I’ve been to other small tech cities and they don’t, like even in Portland, I would say you have to kind of work to get to meet a CEO. Like, and we have a fair number of startups, the startup scene, because everybody is migrating north from Silicon Valley and they’re winding up in either Portland or Seattle.
SARA: Oh, okay.
PAIGE: But, you know, we have a pretty good scene. It’s a couple years old now really of kind of getting going, but trying to, networking that is still sort of difficult. So what do you think makes the community in Austin tight?
SARA: I think that, you know, my father is a history professor and so I frequently fall back on things like context and history to kind of think about things like that. So Austin has been traditionally a really small town in Texas. So most recently, I think Austin has experienced, probably the last decade in particular, a lot of growth. Compared to what it was historically, Austin was the smallest major city in Texas. I mean, Dallas/Fort Worth were bigger, Houston was bigger, even El Paso was bigger. San Antonio certainly was bigger. So Austin’s growth has been really recent and so I think that that kind of small town flavor, that small town culture is still very much kind of part and parcel of the community here. And I think that kind of the way that it came about was that, again, Austin is a small town, so then people started moving here from other parts of Texas, and, you know, it’s still a small town so people kind of adapt that culture. And then people start moving here from other part of the country and that’s the culture. And so I think it’s just kind of, I think that that’s due mostly to the fact that historically Austin was a pretty small town and still is compared to a lot of the other major Texas metropolitan areas. And so that being said, I know, I have a lot of–you know, obviously, I spent a good chunk of my life in California. I know people, I know there’s crazy people in Texas, but people are really nice. There is a good part about Texas that, there really is a good genuine friendliness in the culture here, which you may not know if you don’t get past the crazy gun stuff. But, you know, and I think that’s another part of it. It’s just, people are nice here. And to your point about the startups, you know, kind of moving and relocating, I have heard on more than one occasion that startup founders or venture capitalist will say things like, well Austin has a really good work/life balance if that’s what you’re into.
PAIGE: Yeah, I totally get that.
SARA: And so we’re a bad thing, right, to not be working all the time. KInd of to that point, there’s just so many, Austin is a really social networky town. I mean, you can literally be drinking every night of the week here, meeting people, if you wanted to do that. I’ve definitely had weeks where I’d go to two or three events, and you know, so those are my thoughts.
PAIGE: That’s a really good way to put that. I think Portland has some of that heritage, but it’s been a little, a little longer.
SARA: Uh-huh.
PAIGE: And I think the influx is a little bit higher. The gentrification in Portland is starting to pick up pretty bad. I think we had like a 30 percent rent increase in the past year.
PAIGE: Yeah. It’s pretty unreal.
ANGELA: Yeah, house values are going up here in Seattle, like a lot.
SARA: A lot.
PAIGE: Yeah, like a lot. It’s is literally like Silicon Valley is just spreading.
SARA: Wow.
PAIGE: So it will be interesting to see. I like the history as well, so it will be interesting to see the numbers come in in the next couple of years of how things change and why.
SARA: Yeah. Similar things are happening in Austin and everyone kind of has different feelings about it, but you can’t really stop demographic shifts, right.
PAIGE: Yeah, we just have to try to, i think, be conscious of them.
SARA: Absolutely.
PAIGE: We can’t stop them, but we can do it intentionally.
SARA: Absolutely. I agree.
PAIGE: So you started out in journalism?
SARA: Yes, so that’s, I get that question sometimes when people hear about my background. I went to school and actually thought I was going to go to law school. I took the LSAT and all that. And I was just thinking, hey I’m going to do this journalism thing for a year before I apply to law school. Well, once it came time to apply to law school I thought, oh my god, I do not want to go to law school. So I ended up making a career out of journalism and I loved it and I was really good at it and I did it in two languages. And, unfortunately, I came into journalism right at that turning point where the web was starting to overtake media in a really kind of forceful way. I’ve literally sat in meetings where people were saying, you know, we actually have more hits on our website than we have subscribers.
PAIGE: Yeah.
SARA: And then the recession hit and media companies, so I tell people sometimes, I’ve been laid off like three times. And they look at me with these, you know, horror in their eyes. I’m like, oh it’s no big deal, it just working in the media. And that’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality is, you know, every quarter you’ve got to have profits, because it’s a publically traded company and the first ones to go.
SARA: So, yeah, so I worked in newspapers here in Texas. I worked in Brownsville, Austin, and San Antonio. So I actually lived here in Austin about 10 years ago, first time. And i loved it and was great at it and unfortunately it didn’t work out for me. And then I thought, okay, hey I’m going to be responsible, I’m going to change careers and I started a master’s in community counseling. Because through my work as a journalist people are always telling me all their problems anyways and I’m a real good listener. And I thought this will be really great, because I’m bilingual. You need more bilingual health workers, right, in Texas. And then I got pulled into a startup and I loved it. And so I started doing digital media. I worked in an industry publication called Inside Facebook, kind of covering the Facebook platform right around the time that Facebook was really deep into monetization, rolling out the pages product and things like that. So I have some pretty detailed memories, excruciatingly detailed memories about Facebook’s development as a monetized platform. But, yeah, and then I started this other startup. It was called News Taco and it was like a digital English language publication for Latinos. And then I worked at another digital startup when I moved to LA called Mitu, Mitu Network and it’s was a YouTube network. I think now it’s kind of more newfangled, new media company. So kind of through all of that I, you know, I see it as kind of like a steady progression of what media is, essentially these days. Anybody can write. Anybody can take pictures. Anyone can do video. So media really is more about medium, right, the medium is the message, right?
SARA: So, and that medium is technology. My last position, I really kind of started to dig deep into some more technical things and YouTube’s backend stuff and I thought, hey I can handle technical stuff. I learned all this stuff. And it’s something I’d been wanting to do a while so I decided that I was just going to get a job, marketing job or content management, whatever I could get, and I was going to figure out how to learn to code. So, I”m doing this. I literally have these jobs I’m going to apply to. I had moved back to Austin. I was kind of freelancing. And, like, I’m fixing to apply to these jobs, like the next day, and my friend Liana (unintelligible) from LA, who I met when I was working in LA–we were actually in a room, we were in a Girls in Tech LA event and we were both like, where are the other Latinas. We kind of made a B-line for each other because there were literally on four of us there. That’s how I met her. She calls me up, she says Sara, she’s a cofounder of Sabio, this bootcamp that i mentioned. She says Sara, we have a spot for you. And I”m just like, wow, this is almost like faitful, you know.
PAIGE: Sometimes things just line up like that.
SARA: This really lined up. So I kind of said hey, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s literally knocking down my door, so I kind of dropped my plans to apply to these jobs. I started Code School, Codecademy, JavaScript, all this stuff. What’s Bootstrap? What’s Responsive Design? C#, SQL. So that’s what i did. And then I went to Sabio last year and then I moved back in December and I had an excruciating job search. I tell people, don’t look for a job in December and January. Especially as a newbie, it was hard. I mean, I wrote a story about it on my–I have a platform for Latinos in technology and STEM, it’s called MasWired and I had like 40 interviews between phone calls with recruiters and phone calls online and in-person interviews and technical interviews over the phone. And those kind of like shared develope, I mean, it was just, I counted them, right? And it took me months and I finally, when I did get a job offer I got two.
PAIGE: When it rains it pours.
SARA: Where were you guys all this time, you know. Why are you doing this to me. So, yeah, so since April, so it’s been about, going on seven months, I’ve been working as a software developer and it’s a little bit overwhelming, I’d say. LIke journalism. Journalism and writing and digital media stuff, I just got so good at it that i could do it with my eyes closed. And certainly that’s not something that you ever feel working in technology. So it’s been an interesting adjustment. But, yeah, so that’s kind of how I made that transition.
PAIGE: That is an awesome story.
ANGELA: Uh-huh.
SARA: Than you.
PAIGE: That’s very cool.
ANGELA: Lots of moving.
SARA: Yeah. I definitely, I’m just like, ugh, I’m actually buying nice things now so, like, I’m only going to move one or twice more.
ANGELA: It sounds like you’re staying.
PAIGE: Yeah, that’s when you know you’ve settled. I’m still not doing that.
ANGELA: Yeah, keeping the boxes broken down in the garage.
PAIGE: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.
SARA: Yeah.
PAIGE: But, you know, I”m nomadic, so it works that way.
SARA: Oh yeah, I had my nomadic years.
PAIGE: I don’t think I”ll give them up. My dad said to me one time, he’s like, Paige, I’m pretty sure there’s not gypsy blood in the family. I’m like, dad I think you’re wrong. I have so many questions out of your story. I guess the first one is, do you feel like being at a bootcamp that was focused on diversity made a difference in the way that you learned or how you networked afterwards or the support that you got afterwards? Like any of that stuff?
SARA: Sure. So, I can’t really speak, because I’ve never been to any other bootcamps. That being said, I have been around other bootcamps, you know, here in Austin, certainly. And I’ve heard thing from–I’ve had friends who have gone through MakerSquare or General Assembly or whatever other ones, right. We have some Austin Code School or Austin Code Club or something. I would say, I think for me personally, you know, and journalism is also a very male dominated profession, so I wasn’t so freaked out around being around men, but the–I went to Stanford as an undergrad and I just remember being put off by those tech people. And so I was scared about that. And so, I think for me, going to Sabio was really kind of, much more warm and inviting and made me feel like technology was for me. And so that made a huge difference. I think, you know, there were other women there. There were other Latinos there. You know, um, you know, there was African Americans there. It was just kind of an environment that I felt comfortable in while learning this difficult material, right, in a very stressful environment. So, I think as far as the recruiting goes, you know, LA’s tech market, I think my job search would have gone a lot easier had I been in LA, because it’s just a bigger market. I think part of the trouble that I had in Austin finding a job, or why it took me so much longer than it should of is it’s just a smaller market and people here or the companies here seem to really be waiting for those unicorns to come along. You know, the–I saw a meme the other day. It’s like, we’re looking for someone in their 20s with 30 years experience.
ANGELA: Oh, yes, I’ve seen that one before.
PAIGE: Yeah, exactly.
SARA: And so-
PAIGE: Entry-level, seven years experience.
ANGELA: Right.
SARA: Exactly. And that’s kind of what I kept running into, is we want a junior developer for this position who is really, really, really, really, good. I’m like, okay. You know. So, yeah, what I think that I do appreciate about Sabio, and this is my experience, is they’re very focused on creating a community and a network. I think, because of this type of students the they’re focusing on, they understand that hey, you probably don’t have a network in tech, otherwise you would have a network in tech and you wouldn’t need to come to a code school. So there is a really, kind of, active alumni network that I go to all the time. Hey, what about this? Anybody know about this? Hey, you know, and like is this normal, what should I be asking, what should I do. And for me that’s been, that’s probably been one of the best things about my Sabio experience.
PAIGE: What tool do you guys use to do that?
SARA: We have previously used Yammer and now we’re on Slack.
PAIGE: Seems like everybody is on Slack doing this these days.
SARA: Uh-huh.
PAIGE: It’s a great tool for it.
SARA: Absolutely, yeah. So, and then if you’re in LA they have Professional Development Seminars. They have recruiting events. It’s just really great if you’re in LA and you’re going to work in LA to have this tangible and virtual community. That being said, my mother still lives in LA so I”m going down there for Thanksgiving and there’s going to be a Sabio happy hour and I may get to visit with everybody. I think that’s amazing. A year after I haven’t seen these people, we’re going to get together and have drinks and it will be fun.
ANGELA: That is awesome.
PAIGE: How big was your class?
SARA: So we had eight folks.
PAIGE: Eight.
SARA: There was eight of us.
PAIGE: That’s nice. That’s a good size. So how, did you feel like your journalism skills, like did you find a way to kind of translate them? I think being bilingual should have given you some, there is some similarity between learning a foreign language and learning to code, because you are essentially just learning to talk to a computer. Do you feel like that influenced your learning process and/or did being a journalist who is used to kind of seeking out answers to questions, do you think that influenced it for you?
SARA: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that one of the first–I think that anything that you have to learn changes you to a certain extent, and I would say probably one the ways that journalism changed me the most was just really not having any feelings about asking questions, which makes for some little awkward situations sometimes, because I end up like interrogating people about their personal lives without really meaning to. Just because I’m curious, but I think that served me really, really well in software. Okay, so you want this data on front end. What is it going to do once it gets there. How is this going to be used. Is this anywhere else? Just really drilling down deep into questions so that I can fully understand the task at hand. That has been really helpful. And I think my metaphor for writing code or creating an application, and certainly I”m not as proficient as I would like to be at this point, but kind of my goal is, there’s a really–so, for me, because I’ve been writing for so long as a profession, as a science almost, it’s very formulaic at the end of the day. I know some people, I know a lot of people struggle with writing, but once you’ve written like thousands of things it’s pretty much the same thing over and over again. It’s very formulaic, just like a function, right?
SARA: Just like anything you’re going to write in software. It’s like, hey here is the beginning. Here’s a few details about the thing. Here’s how they all tie together. The end. I mean, it’s pretty formulaic for me. I could write anything in a variety of ways, but at its core, that’s what you’re doing. That being said, there’s a verbose way to do that and there’s a succinct way to do that and there’s a romantic way to do that, and there’s a funny way to do that. And that’s kind of how I look at software development, is like you can write the same thing multiple ways, right. So I kind of look at being software developer, my development as a software developer as looking at it like being a writer. I want to be an efficient, interesting, but very pointed writer. Nobody wants to waste words, especially in the digital age when if it’s not 140 characters who cares. I think code is kind of the same thing. Yeah, you can have, nobody reads the source code of Angular. I mean, it’s just too long and it’s too crazy. But people will love a code snippet, right. So how do you ingest all of this stuff and output the most elegant, quick, easy to understand solution. To kind of address your question, I see software development as–I see writing as a metaphor for software development in that it’s very painful to learn how to do it well, but once you get there it’s totally worth it.
PAIGE: I really like that idea. That’s really cool. Like the idea of your code having your voice behind it.
ANGELA: Uh-huh. Yeah.
PAIGE: And I definitely notice that. I think, I can usually tell who on a team has written something by the way it’s written.
SARA: Oh, that’s interesting. That makes sense, yeah.
PAIGE: I mean, unless you have like super song’s file guides someplace too.
SARA: Yeah.
PAIGE: Especially in some of the more relaxed languages like JavaScript or Ruby or Python.
SARA: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense, actually, now that you say that. I can tell too.
PAIGE: Yeah.
SARA: Huh, that’s cool.
PAIGE: If you like the idea of software having a voice and being really readable, Ruby is a fantastic language for that. It’s actually one of the core foundations of the community. It actually kind of over the years shifted to the idea that even comments are not, shouldn’t be necessary. LIke your code should be human readable enough that you shouldn’t need comments.
SARA: Yeah.
PAIGE: Which, I really like that idea.
SARA: Yeah, that’s, I like that too.
PAIGE: So you mentioned that you had 40 job applications. So I have two questions in that.
SARA: Uh-huh.
PAIGE: How long did that take in a town like Austin and what did you do while you were doing those to kind of keep yourself sharp or, you know, maybe you had to have a job or whatever. And if you had to have a job, like how did you find the time. I have a lot of, in my Women Who Code network we have a lot of bootcamp graduates who are really struggling with that process.
SARA: Sure. I totally lucked out in the sense that I was able to, you know, I’ve always kind of tried to have a side gig going, just to be able to save up money. And so by the time I moved out to Austin I was freelancing. I wasn’t making a whole bunch of money but I was sustaining myself. So I had all this savings, all this money that I had saved up so I was able to go to the bootcamp and work one contract, so it was actually, I was just colleague over lunch, I am way too old to go to bootcamp ever again. It was a great experience. I don’t ever want to do that again. It was like-
ANGELA: What is too old? What makes you too old?
SARA: I just, I just mean that I was going to bootcamp 10 to 12 hours a day.
SARA: And then I was going home and I was working.
ANGELA: I see. Yes.
SARA: I was working one to two hours and then I was trying to make my lunch and it was just-
PAIGE: Yeah, like sleep and eat?
SARA: It was just, so tired. It was just so exhausting and I was stretched so thin. You know, when you’re 24, 25 you can do that.
SARA: Because it’s, you know, and I”m not. So i’m just, it was just so intense and so hard and so-
PAIGE: I”m going to ask that personal question.
SARA: Yes.
PAIGE: How old are you?
SARA: Oh, I”m 32.
PAIGE: Yeah, that’s kind of when it changes.
SARA: Yea, exactly. I say I’m an old lady, everyone’s like, you’re not an old lady Sara. And I’m like, I know, but compared to you I’m an old lady. I’m not 24.
PAIGE: In tech we feel old.
SARA: Yeah, seriously. So, you know, that was kind of my thing. I was able to kind of do that. So the four month, it took me four months. I think. I came back in December, like a few days before Christmas. And I was still grump so I kind of ruined Christmas, but i forgive myself. But, yeah, so i came back December 19th and I found a job the third week in April. Almost towards the end of April. I started on April 27th. So it took a while and I think that part of it is, I think I mentioned earlier, in Austin, for whatever reason, all these startups think that they’re going to get senior devs. They’re all, I mean, it’s a limited pool. Again, Austin is like maybe, what, a million people. I don’t know what the population of Austin is, but it’s not huge. It’s not six million like LA or, you know, eight million like New York or whatever. Yeah, Austin is less than a million people. So, but they keep thinking that they’re going to, you know, everyone is holding out for that senior dev and so I’ve seen job postings–like I applied, check this out, I applied to, I saw a job that I applied to earlier this year when I was looking and they’re still looking for this person. So it’s going on a year that they’ve been looking for this person . And you just kind of have to ask yourself, maybe you’re not going to find that person dude.
ANGELA: Yeah, it’s a unicorn. Pretty much. You have to redefine it or something.
SARA: Exactly, something’s got to give. You know, it was really difficult. So, just kind of address your issue; so yeah, I had savings and I was working different contracts and stuff. So I wasn’t making money, but at a certain point I wasn’t losing a whole bunch of money. That being said, the balance still was going down instead of up.
SARA: And I got, I mean, I, so I put, I told them this story. I literally got to the point where I said, okay, well, I can’t find a software job. I’ve tried, you know. I tried my best. It’s not going to happen for me. But I’m not going to give up. I just need to get a day job and I’m going to support my software habit, you know, and I’m going to see how, I’m going to still do this. And so I literally, again, I didn’t give up in a really sad, dramatic way, but I had just practically speaking said hey I need income, so I started applying to these content marketing, digital marketing jobs and, girl, like wildfire people would be calling me back. People were dying to hire me, because I’m so good at that stuff and I have ten years experience doing that.
PAIGE: You’re a unicorn.
SARA: Yeah, exactly. I am the unicorn. So I was literally, the day I got my first job offer I was going to have job interviews for these content jobs, and then I had to cancel them because I had got the offers. And so that was kind of where I was at. I thought, hey, you know what, I’m not going to give up on this dream, but I have to be realistic about these parameters. And so there is that. You know, like I said, I was getting a little bit nervous about the balance of my savings so, and then I think as far as the emotional stuff, I’m not going to lie. I mean, I gained weight during the bootcamp because I was working out regularly and I just had to sit there for like, you know, 14, 15 hours a day I was just sitting.
SARA: The closest, the best I could do is go for a walk around the block. And so I gained weight. And I was like, great, so I’ve gained weight, I don’t have a job, nobody hires me, nobody likes me.
ANGELA: Your savings is going down.
SARA: My savings is going down. It was depressing. It sucked.
SARA: And that’s, you know, I think what I, you know, I was telling my friends recently, you know, I’ve gotten to that point in my life where I know myself as a well rounded person, the good and the bad things. And I said one thing that I really like about myself, and I don’t think that this is because I’m an extraordinary person, it’s just the way that I am, is i bounce back. Sometimes it takes me a few years after whatever, the ups and downs of life, but I always bounce back eventually. And so, you know, I kind of knew that. Even when I was having bad days. And like, Sara, you’re going to get there, you always do. And I think the other thing is, I have worked in environments that were like sexist. I just was like, I am not going to let these bastards get me down.
PAIGE: Right on. That’s the attitude you’ve got to have about anything, really.
SARA: Like hell no. So that was another thing. So, yeah, and then that’s actually kind of where the Women Who Code came into the picture. I was sitting at home feeling all like, oh nobody likes me. I’ll never be a software developer. All feeling sorry for myself and pathetic. And I thought, you know what Sara, you need to get out of this house and you need to go talk to some other human beings, because I was working from home. I said, you need to go out and you need to meet people, because you can’t keep hanging out with yourself only anymore.
ANGELA: Hanging out with yourself.
SARA: So I went to my first Women Who Code event. It was a Tech Talk and it was okay. I wasn’t like super impressed by it. But then I went to another one and that’s when I met some cool people, I heard some great stories, I met Holly the founder of Women Who Code Austin and Trisha the other co-director of Women Who Code Austin. I felt good being there, because I thought, hey, you know, other people had struggles. I’m struggling. It’s not me. You know, I talked to Holly. I said hey this is great. I would love to be involved. Like, I mean, just off the top of my head I didn’t know how I was going to help, but I can tweet. I do digital marketing. I can help you with that. Can I help you with that? She’s like great. So that same day, that same night I got on, hopped on the Women Who Code Austin Twitter and I started living tweeting the lighting talks and after that I said, hey I’m looking for a job, like I’d love any help you can give me. Also, let me know how I can help. That was in February. And so, you know, kind of what happened from there was I really kind of started focusing on the Twitter account and really kind of stepped up the Women Who Code Austin messaging on Twitter and really cool stuff started happening. We started getting more sponsors. We started getting more members in the Women Who Code meetup. We started being able to have panels. We had a panel about women in technology. It’s been really great. And then I had this idea. I said, hey, you know, we have all of these women who are coming who want to work in technology but they don’t have portfolio. We should have, like a portfolio hackathon. And we should say, we’re going to focus on women and we’re going to focus on diversity, because nobody else in this town is focusing on diversity. We’re the ones. We are going to be the change that we seek, right. So it was a great idea and then randomly started having conversations with some of the ladies that work over at Capital Factory, which is an accelerator here in town. And they said, hey we would love to host you for your hackathon. And we can find you a happy hour sponsor. And I said, sure, great, let me know the dates. They’re like in three weeks. So we had a quick pow-wow with the Women Who Code ladies and we said you guys want to do this in three weeks. So we did. In three weeks, you know, we all kind of, we got sponsorship moneys. We got the messaging out. We had people help us invite their members. And we had, what, some person said it at their happy hour it was like the most diverse group of tech people they’d ever seen in Austin. And we had like 90 people show up to participate-
SARA: -in the hackathon. We had a Ruby workshop. She had an IBM Bluemix workshop. I mean, i think next year we definitely want to try to have more workshops for beginners, but it was just such a cool event. I literally, girl, I showed up Saturday morning, because Friday night we had the happy hour, so I was all stressed out and tired. We got on TV, was interviewed by the local ABC affiliate, which is super cool.
PAIGE: Oh, that’s super cool.
SARA: And so by the time I got home I was just wiped out. So I wake up Saturday morning at like 8:00 and I’m like why is this happening to me. But I get to the Capital Factory and I’m just barely awake and I look and I”m like what are all these people doing here? I was really shocked that so many people showed up that early on a Saturday and it was great. So, after that, you know, Holly spoke to the Women Who Code organization and Trisha and myself became co-directors of Women Who Code Austin and so it’s just been, that’s something that I would say to folks who are kind of looking for that next job. You know, trying to get their break, catch their break. Go to a Women Who Code event. Start your own event. I mean, I’ve been so impressed. And I’m not like a super new agey person or anything, but we have a nice little group. The Women Who Code organizers and co-directors and volunteers and in the last few months two of them have gotten new jobs making a bunch of money and they’ve been helping the rest of us find jobs, get bigger paychecks. I mean, when we’re all together, we’re so much more powerful than we are when we’re on our own.
PAIGE: That’s exactly the point.
SARA: Yeah, and I’m a true believer. I’m not saying this because, I’m like, girl power, just for the sense of saying it, but, you know-
PAIGE: It’s not even just girl power. It’s any group that comes together with a purpose, with common experience, that’s where you find power. That’s why the majority has power, because they’re already together with a common experience. We can do the same thing.
SARA: Yeah, and it’s been really powerful moment in my life to be–you know, we have a, we call it, what is it called, ladies coding brunch, on Sundays and we get together. A lot of Women Who Code stuff gets done over brunch on Sundays. But, you know, hey I’m working on this project does anybody know Angular, da, da, da. Hey, I”m working on this job application, can you look at my resume, okay let’s go over your LInkedIn profile. It’s just tremendous. We can pull all of our resources together so we have this big pile of resources as opposed to each one of us out there trying to make it happen. And so I have to say, I wasn’t feeling so good about myself. You know, I didn’t have a job, money was going out, I was like overweight, I was just like woe is me. I’m so sad. And then I got these job offers and, it was just the Women Who Code community or whatever really kind of helped me. Like, it was something I could lean on before, while I got to where I wanted to go. So, and Holly started Women Who Code Austin when she was in a bootcamp, when she was here at Makersquare. I mean, she had moved from LA, didn’t know anybody in Austin. She had some health issues and she said, hey, you know what, I need a community. So she started one. And so that’s what I would say. If you don’t have a Women Who Code, you know, check out meetups. You know, I started a JavaScript study group just amongst the people that I know because we’re all trying to better our skills, for example, right? So create a community. Don’t do it by yourself, because that sucks.
ANGELA: Thank you for listening to this episode of Women’s Tech Radio. Remember, you can check out the show notes which includes a full transcription over at JupiterBroadcasting.com. Just click on Women’s Tech Radio and scroll down.
PAIGE: You can also hit us up on Twitter, @heywtr, or send us an email at WTR@JupiterBroadcasting.com Thanks so much.

Transcribed by Carrie Cotter | Transcription@cotterville.net

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