Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Herstory: Full Stack Developer, Liz Harrison

The biggest question growing up is “What do I want to be” and for some that comes easy, but for a lot of us we often have a change of heart after we start pursuing our careers and sometimes it is all for the best! For Liz, that is exactly the case, here is her story.

What was the first thing that peaked your interest in programming?
I have always been interested in how technology works: the internet, video games, and mobile devices. My dad is big into technology so I grew up around it. I didn’t get seriously interested into programming until 2012. I was 18 years old, in college, and already majoring in Nursing. It took just 1 programming class for me to switch majors.

What was the first language you wrote in and (aside from ‘hello world’) what did you write?
The language taught in the “Intro to Programming” class was Python and I honestly don’t remember specifics from there, but the next class was C#. The first project was an ATM application. I was so proud of that thing. It had an account and I could deposit money, withdraw money, and check my balance.

How did you learn to code and what one tip would you give to women wanting to learn?
I learned from multiple places. I learned formally during my studies in Computer Information Systems. I also learned(and continue to learn) quite a bit from Udemy, Codeacademy, and Youtube.
For women wanting to learn to code, I would say to start looking at tutorials online. I’d also find blogs that discuss how other developers have gotten started so you can see examples. Don’t get caught up into the “language X is better than language Y” discussion. You’ll want to learn the fundamentals and the concepts first. Most of those will be similar across languages.

Who is your biggest inspiration in programming?
I don’t have any one person. I have had a couple of senior developers who have helped me so much as a developer these past 11 months. They showed not only the “what to do” or “how to do it”, but the “why” and the thought process behind what was done. I also would say that there are so many developers on Instagram that inspire me. When I started my account in 2013, I never thought that there was a community as big and inspiring as there is on that platform.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions because every developer was once where you are.”

Any advice for women wishing to get into the field?
Technology is an awesome field to get into. The possibilities are endless! You could be a programmer, a manager, a product owner, a business analyst, etc. If programming is your choice, DON’T give up! It may seem intimidating and there may be days where you feel like you don’t know enough, but everyone has those days. Literally everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because every developer was once where you are.

In your opinion, what makes a great programmer?
I feel like a great programmer is someone who has the ability to adapt and learn quickly, someone who has persistence and patience (especially when you cannot figure out where the bug is and it’s 2 am already…), and someone who is able to understand the client’s side of things.

You can follow Liz’s story of her development journey on Instagram and Twitter, along with her inspiring words.