your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 68: meet the wonderful technologist Shelly!

Happy Friday! In this Spotlight, I’m introducing you to Shelly! I met Shelly at EuRuKo in in Salzburg last year and she’s been on my ‘list of Spotlight heroes’ ever since. Shelly participated in the amazing Rails Girls Summer of Code in 2015 and she worked as Community Manager for the Open Source Initiative until recently. Today, she gives you her advice on learning to code and talks about her experiences in tech :)

Name: Shelly Coen
Job: Freelance Community/Event Management
Favorite website, app or gadget: app is wonderful! Using the BeSpecular app, a visually impaired person takes a photo of what he or she needs help with and attaches a voice message. A sighted person then replies with an answer to whatever query. It’s really worth checking out, and signing up for it!
Favorite book: The Giving Tree! <3 I love Shel Silverstein
Twitter: @shellycoen
Site: eep! It is still sitting in production, I am a disgrace :D

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT? I really wanted to change to a career that challenged me and where I could learn loads. I knew some people working in tech so I started learning to code once when I was home sick with the flu, and quite enjoyed the feeling that I got when my code actually did something! I was lucky enough to get involved with the Ruby community in Vienna, which is fantastically welcoming and inclusive, which only encouraged me further!

What does your working day look like? I work remote. Every day starts with a giant mug of tea, firing up my computer, and checking out my to-do list for the day. It is often a mixture of researching, having calls with folk, working on tasks for different projects I am involved in, and petting cats :) At the moment I am just finishing up an internship in tech marketing so I am starting to get up and running with freelance projects. Alongside this, I am making a plan for volunteer coordination with the Open Source Initiative, supervising a wonderful team in Rails Girls Summer of Code, continuing to learn and do tutorials, and I have joined the organisational team of two conferences.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why? I have just joined the team of Taboola Rasa, a mental health advocacy project.  I really like this project because its aim is to create awareness for mental health experiences and to end the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health concerns. This is a really important subject, so I love being a part of this project!

Do you have a hero or someone who inspires you? There are so many people who I find inspiring, it’s hard to choose just one! Instead of pointing you to one specific person, I will just encourage people to seek out the voices of people who don’t look like you, or don’t sound like you.

Why do you love working in  IT/Tech? Something I have found to be wonderful while I went from learning to noodle around with basic web apps, to doing summer of code, to doing software engineering, to going into marketing and community management, is that I have had so much support from other people who I have encountered along the way. I have met so many people who have gone above and beyond to offer me help and advice, and I am trying to pay it forward by helping others who are now trying to get into tech.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge? Not quite! My degree is in English and Classics. I worked for several years in early childhood education so my journey to working in this industry hasn’t been the most straightforward one. There are a lot of aspects of my previous career that help me now. I still love teaching people and the basics of that are the same for every age group – it’s important to treat people with patience, kindness, and empathy.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?) You can do it! What I said above about treating people with patience, kindness, and empathy doesn’t only apply to teaching others, but it is extremely important to apply to yourself too. Especially the patience part! You are more than capable of this, and it will probably frustrate the heck out of you at times but you can do it.


Extra question from Veni:  What is something new that you learned at work this week? This week was actually one of those weeks where my big revelation wasn’t one of the new things I learned (I did learn several) but I noticed that I have gotten into a really good stride with what I am doing. It’s extremely satisfying to have some time where I feel like things are falling into place and I am doing a good job!