Inspired by Code.org Video, Gov Girl Goes Geek

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Between my current full-time government position, volunteer work, and trying to live life, I decided to learn how to code. By Nabihah Azim (Intake Specialist, City of Oakland Department of Housing and Community Development)

Government girl goes geek.. well kind of. But that’s the name of my new blog. This is the beginning of my 30 (or more) day challenge, where I take my previous code knowledge, which is basically nothing, and learn a whole new skill. This is where I’ll chronicle my ups, downs, frustrations, and wins as I embark on this new hobby. Like many other 20-somethings, my desire in life is to do what I’m passionate about. For me, that’s city planning, and working for the Housing Department in a major city. In the meantime, between my current full-time government position, volunteer work, and trying to live life, I decided to learn how to code.

Programming first piqued my interest when Code for America (the peace corp for geeks) recently launched their partnership with Oakland. And following Jennifer Pahlka (the founder and CEO of Code for America) on Twitter has been incredibly inspiring.

But what really pushed me to do something about this interest was the recent viral marketing video from code.org featuring Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, and will.i.am. Code, or, programming, has always been incredibly intimidating to me – as if it was only for nerds, which I’m clearly not (I wish I was a nerd).

Before watching the code.org video on coding, I had this assumption that you had to be an expert or go to school to code. But that video told the stories of all of these successful people that didn’t initially get formal training – they just, picked it up. And that’s when programming became less intimidating, and more accessible, to me.

The code.org video was so inspiring, that I knew I had to do something about this interest to learn how to code – so I turned to my friend, Google. The problem was that the internet has an overwhelming amount of information – should I check out code.org? Or Codecademy? What about Skillshare? Or Khan Academy? Perhaps Coursera – the list goes on and on.

I started somewhat blindly by googling websites people have referred to me. After extensively researching (read: scanning the homepage of each site while browsing Facebook) each of the sites listed, I decided to use Codecademy. It seemed the most user-friendly for someone who has very little experience programming. I also signed up for “Teach Yourself to Code: One Month Rails” by Mattan Griffel on Skillshare. I’ll document my experience learning to program, so wish me luck as I embark on this journey and attempt to use my government and programming knowledge to change the world (yes I know, overambitious)!

This post was originally posted at Nabihah Azim's blog. About the guest blogger: Nabihah Azim has a passion for all things city planning and a growing interest in civic technology. She is currently involved with the One-Stop Housing Assistance Center through her job with the City of Oakland's Department of Housing and Community Development. She volunteers for a non-profit that organizes transportation for children to visit their parents in prison. Nabihah has also started the SF chapter of a women’s network for local impact projects. Follow her on Twitter at @nabihah16.

Women 2.0 readers: How are you learning to program? Let us know in the comments