Girl Develop It! Miami Hackathon

Girl Develop It! Miami Hackathon

Earlier this month I came upon a Meetup group for women who are in (or interested) in the tech industry called Girl Develop It (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale). The timing was perfect since a previous goal of mine in 2014 was to learn coding, but things always seemed to get in the way, as life usually does but I was determined to revisit this goal for 2015. After joining the group’s page, an upcoming event for the meetup group was highlighted, which was the first GDI Hackathon for this particular chapter. I should probably preface this by stating I’m not a coding expert by any means but figured it would be a fun way to network and see what the group is about. Plus, the organizer (Ibis) was specific in noting that coding skills weren’t necessary – bonus!

For those unfamiliar with Girl Develop It, their slogan is “don’t be shy, develop it” with a vision statement that’s pretty amazing:

Our vision is to create a network of empowered women who feel confident in their abilities to code and build beautiful web and mobile applications. By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.

So, off I went on a Saturday afternoon to the first GDI Hackathon in Miami’s Wynwood district, held at the co-working space The LAB. There were about 13 or so people in attendance ranging in all ages and backgrounds; some experienced developers, some completely newbies – but all sharing the common goal of learning.

The session kicked off with Ibis sharing some interesting facts surrounding the role women are playing in tech, but also touched on the potential Miami has in becoming a tech hub. Since this was all new to me I definitely appreciated the overview and crash course in what seemed to be an exciting time to get involved in the South Florida tech scene.

If you’re wondering what the format of a hackathon is, I can’t speak for others since this was my first. However, I can tell you this one was welcoming and in no way intimidating. It was an open forum in which we broke into pairs and were given a section of the gomiamitech.com web site to develop using GitHub. Myself and another “Nerdette” (as Girl Develop It calls its members) chose to work on the “People” page. After brainstorming ideas on format and how it would be laid out, my partner informed me of Bootstrap code which would help us to create the layout using existing HTML and CSS. I’m familiar with most of the basics in HTML and CSS, but since I don’t actively build web sites anymore there hasn’t been a requirement to learn responsive design and it was great to learn first-hand how to use it.

Our project for the People page primarily consisted of snapping the attendee’s photos using my iPhone, editing the photos in a simple photo editing tool and then using Github and Bootstrap to make the page. Pretty straight forward and yet even though I’ve done similar processes like this in the past I was really excited to be able to do so using new tools and code I wasn’t familiar with.

Curious to see how our page came out? See our page here.

To sum up my first hackathon experience with Girl Develop It, I learned quite a bit in one afternoon, plus had the chance to meet a few really down to earth people who were also super smart and freely enjoyed sharing their ideas and knowledge to help others. It was a fun collaborative session and I would encourage anyone interested in coding to visit a local Girl Develop It chapter.

Have you attended a similar collaborative session in coding? What was your experience like? Would love to hear about it in the comments.

BONUS: Are you a South Florida local? If so, this Friday GDI is hosting an inspiration panel featuring several local women in the tech industry. The event is being held at the Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale and I’ll be attending along with many others. Why not join us and get inspired?

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