When I was studying political science in college, I had no intention of going into the field of technology. I had friends in STEM, but I was sure I either wanted to pursue a career in politics or business. However, when I saw an opportunity to enter a rotational program at IBM Watson starting in the summer of 2014, I knew I had to pursue it. I got the job and rotated through the sales and marketing departments, where I began learning more about AI technology. As I talked to developers both inside and outside of the company, I found myself wanting to learn how to code with the Watson API’s and create a new product or app. They gave me advice on how to start, but the thought of committing hours of my time to learning a new skill seemed daunting. In the summer of 2016, I mentored a high school student on starting a career in STEM through the program Girls Who Code and I was very impressed with the girls’ ability to create an app in just a few weeks. They inspired me to take a free HTML Codecademy course, which acquainted me with programming, however I barely kept up with my novice skills.
In my day job today as an offering manager for IBM Digital, I work on a website called the IBM Learning Lab, which offers interactive courses and real-world use cases on emerging tech to help professionals gain new skills. Use cases include everything from building a chatbot in 20 minutes to creating your very own Harry Potter sorting hat. The website also features courses from partners such as General Assembly – a company that trains employees and individuals around the world in coding, data science, design, marketing and product management. I decided it was time to practice what I preach, dive into the coding deep end, and take one of General Assembly’s immersive coding courses. I’m going to skill-up, learn the language of the 21st century, and hopefully begin a journey of learning different programming languages.
So, I recently began General Assembly’s HTML, CSS, and Web Design course with the intention of building a website that chronicles free workout opportunities in NYC. In addition, I am going to build a chat bot with Watson’s Conversation API so you can ask it questions like “What are free yoga classes in NYC,” or “What free workout classes are happening at 6:30 PM in Brooklyn?” I look to highlight the great people and organizations that offer free workout opportunities for New Yorkers.
I’m both excited and nervous to begin this journey of learning how to code. Since this is something I’ve wanted to pursue for almost 2 years now, I am treading optimistically that I will enjoy programming and continue to learn new languages once this course is over.
This is part 1 of a 2 part-series. In the next post, I will chronicle my 10-week coding experience – including all of the ups and downs that occur when learning new skills.