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How Scholarship Winner Natalie Miles landed a job at Credit Karma

72584_751438918288_206195_n Natalie Miles is a business analyst at Credit Karma who earned a full scholarship to the Hackbright Academy Part-Time class. Eager to help with tasks at her current role, her knowledge in programming is vital in the current work landscape, and as a woman, she knows the increasing need of females in tech. 

It was during a job transition when Natalie had the idea of getting into the data science field. 

Wanting to learn Python, Natalie, who had previously known about Hackbright, heard about the scholarship application through Hackbright from the Women Who Code newsletter. “I read it all the time and saw that there was a scholarship opportunity. I had been through boot camps and that had always been the first thing on my mind.” Natalie said she liked that it was all women.

“It’s a great way to learn a challenging subject, being with other like-minded people who are similar to you.”

After the application process, which Natalie found to be quite painless, she had heard within two days that she got the scholarship.

“I think for me I would have been reluctant to make that jump had I not received the scholarship. The program was something I wanted to do for awhile and I always pushed back because I knew it required a huge time and money commitment, so having that money commitment out of the picture and knowing it would just be a time commitment on my part made it a go ahead.”

Hackbright’s new Prep Course is twice a week during the evening, for eight weeks that covers the foundations of programming, which amongst the many topics, includes Python, GitHub, basic data structures and functionality. The prep course is perfect for those that want to get more into programming but still need some more experience before taking the Fellowship course.

As far as the program itself goes, Natalie made great friends in addition to a great education.

“It was a very encouraging and nurturing environment. I like the fact that there wasn’t weird competitiveness going on, and it really helped forge great relationships. The cohort I was with was great and I made some really great friends from this class. It’s hard to meet people outside of work so having an in-person class is a really rewarding experience.”

Projects That Carry into Work

As a business analyst at Credit Karma, and a former operations analyst at Lending Club, Natalie wanted to learn programming to help with mundane projects and tasks in her work.

“One of the most important things as far as getting into the data science field is that I have a basic understanding of Python, and [without this education], wouldn’t be able to do.

One of the cool projects I was able to do at Hackbright during class was using an API project to improve a work-related issue. I was able to make a tool to have a presence of Reddit.”

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Eventually, Natalie would like to get a master’s degree in data science or an MBA. “I feel like I’m at such a big advantage knowing how to program—it’s such a valuable skill set. There’s not a lot of representation of women in these roles, and I feel an obligation to help and not be left behind because technology is advancing.”

Natalie’s advice for people who might be interested in learning about the Hackbright program and getting into more technical roles: “If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you set yourself up for success. Don’t keep putting it off because of timing…there’s never going to be a perfect time. Do it now while you have the availability, because you want to be able to focus on this and give yourself a chance to succeed.”

Hackbright Academy is the engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.

5 Ways Engineers Can Support Each Other

New female developers are bursting onto the tech scene every day and that’s a win for everyone. You’ve made some big moves and landed your dream job; now it’s time to think about what you can do to support other women in tech and #ChangeTheRatio. What seems like a daunting task can be made easier by following a handful of simple, intuitive steps. We’ve come up with five of them to help make tech more inviting to women new to the tech scene.


Step #1 – Introduce yourself!

It seems obvious, but the struggle is real – sometimes we get so busy at work that making time for small talk with the new hire slips our minds. Cultivating new connections becomes more difficult the longer you’ve been in the same place, but it’s worth it to make the effort, particularly when the new hire is a non-traditional candidate.

Women and gender non-conforming people are more likely to feel shy or uncomfortable in coding jobs because the gender ratio disproportionately favors men. If you’re established in your position, make a point of saying hi to new engineers. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a simple “How’s it going?” – and maybe a quick assist in understanding the company’s culture or tech processes – can make during someone’s first week and get them started happily at a new job.

Step #2 – Encourage an inclusive workplace.

Women are more likely than men to be primary caretakers for their kids, parents, or other family members, which makes ensuring work-life balance a crucial first step if we want to #ChangeTheRatio. Jobs that allow for flexible schedules, occasional remote work, and paid time off make ALL employees happier, healthier, and more effective! People in management roles can make a big difference by setting inclusive office policies that work for everyone – whether you have children, pets, or a marathon to train for after work!

Step #3 – Hire each other!

It can feel a little uncomfortable to stick your neck out for non-traditional candidates once you’re on the hiring side of things. Don’t be afraid to push for more interviews of candidates whose resumes don’t have the brand-name college or tech company names.

When recruiting, interviewing or recommending candidates — try taking a chance on someone who doesn’t have a brand-name company or university on their resume, and look at the distance traveled for individuals. Try to remember that this high-potential person has already broken down some pretty big barriers getting to here – and can be a great contributor to your existing team (especially if that team is a homogenous).

To make sure your applicant pool is diverse, don’t be afraid to push for more diverse candidates to get an interview – whether by phone or in the office. Try citing that the Rooney Rule is being used at Facebook, or that Hackbright Academy works directly with companies to recruit female engineers.

Step #4 – Call out problems where you see them, but know it’s OK to have limits.

The bottom line is, most of the responsibility lies with leadership to make the employees (people of all genders) feel valued, supported, and empowered to do their best work. If you see something unfair and want to speak up, you deserve mad props — it’s always a brave thing to do, and it WILL make a difference! But don’t believe anyone who suggests that because you’re a woman in a powerful tech job, it’s on you to single-handedly overthrow the system. You should be able to expect that your coworkers and industry peers will contribute to creating a safe environment.

Step #5 – Lift as you climb!

This means, circle back to where you began your tech journey! Hackbright engineering fellows in the program love the chance to meet Hackbright alumnae who graduated earlier and are now working in the tech industry. Remember that? Well, you’re that role model now!

If you have some spare cycles, volunteer your time at a school like Hackbright Academy thru the mentorship program or at a non-profit like Black Girls Code or Technovation.

Best case scenario? You’ll find a new recruit for that position you’ve been itching to fill with some non-traditional talent that is overlooked by traditional recruiting. Either way, it’s rewarding to show the next batch of new Hackbright engineering fellows how their hard work can pay off. Besides, be honest – you’ve probably missed it here just a little bit anyway!


Ready to take the first step towards a new career in tech and forge amazing relationships with brilliant, like-minded women? Check out Hackbright’s upcoming courses!



5 Reasons to Learn to Code in 2016

Anything could happen in 2016. It could be the year you start learning French and decide to move to Belgium. It might be the year you go hang gliding off the cliffs at Fort Funston or finish knitting that hat you started Sophomore year of college. Or maybe 2016 is the year you learn to code. Now that would be awesome! (Not that there’s anything wrong with Belgium, hang gliding, or knitting!) If you’ve been on the fence about learning to code, here are a few reasons why you should  definitely pursue it this year…


 

1) It’s fun. It really is! Coding is all about solving problems. It’s about breaking things down to their constituent parts and building them back up again. It can be challenging. Just like learning a new language or putting together a puzzle. Except that with coding, you are putting together a puzzle that will allow you to talk to computers (and tell them what to do).

2) Bring your ideas to life.

Coding is powerful because it allows you to make your ideas a reality. Say you’re an amateur mushroom enthusiast who just moved to a new city and wants to meet up with fellow mycophiles. There’s no app for that (at least not as far as we know). But you can make one! You could make an app that finds you the closest hang gliding location or one where you can trade half-finished knitting projects. Whatever you decide to make, however you decide to use the super power that is coding, the important thing is that it’s yours. You’ll be shaping the products that you—and others—are using.

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3) Build your resume.
Learning to code can be a huge game changer for your career. No matter what your field, computer programming is a powerful skill and it’s in super high demand. According to The New York Times, “it is a seller’s market for those who can master new technology tools.” This demand for coders means more opportunities and, in many cases, a substantial salary bump. (That same article says that “the average base salary for software engineers is $100,000, and $112,000 for data scientists.”)

puppy coding4) Tech is a universal language.
Computer programming is a language (well, actually, it’s a bunch of languages) that is spoken all over the world. We may think of Silicon Valley as the capital of coding and in many ways it is. But tech is everywhere and there are other hubs sprouting up all over the place, from Nairobi to Bangalore and Stockholm, Austin to Buenos Aires and London. You may not be able to speak Swedish or Spanish or Kannada (the language they speak in Bangalore), but if you can code you can communicate with programmers from around the world. They don’t call it the world wide web for nothing!

5) Break stereotypes.
As a woman, learning to code is more than just fun. It’s more than just a career move. By learning to code, you’re also shattering the stereotype of the over-caffeinated young white male computer programmer. You’re joining a vibrant community of women coders (including hundreds of Hackbright fellows and alumnae) who are creating apps, solving complex technical problems, and pushing back against a set of stereotypes we all know are wrong. You’re also setting an example for the next generation of female computer programmers and scientists and mathematicians.

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…So, are you ready to begin?! To get started, check out Hackbright Academy – the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to changing the ratio of women in the tech industry. Learn more about our full-time 12-week software engineering fellowship at our upcoming Info Session on July 13!  RSVP to join us in person or remotely.