Opening Doors with Curiosity and Code

90 participants attending the intro by Janine Fuchs, WE SHAPE TECH – photo by Jasmin Frei

by Sonja Bichsel

We Shape Tech and Master 21.Academy opened the doors in the second week of October 2019 for their fourth annual “Keep calm and learn how to code during CodeWeekEU” evening. Hosted in collaboration with partners Tamedia, Goldbach Group and Fachstelle Gleichstellung, Kanton Zürich, the event inspires people from different backgrounds – including non-technical professions – to broaden their understanding of technology and develop their skills and coding knowledge. Shortly after the doors opened, a buzzing room filled with keen learners was ready to take on the language of 1s and 0s.

Participants at group tables complete their first steps of the code – photo by Jasmin Frei

Among the crowd, Katharina, who is taking a sabbatical to give start-up life a shot. Her product idea is clear and soon she will need to hire developers. She is attending the event because she wants to understand what she needs to look for in a potential hire. While she comes equipped with a technical background, she has not had the chance to apply code in her day to day life. Besiana next to her is an Online Marketer. Her entire world is based in code. She wants to find out what is hiding behind the visible interface she is working with and adopt the mindset needed to solve coding challenges and identify bugs in a code herself. Aisha and Laura want to get an insight into coding and are curious about the opportunities host Tamedia has to offer in the field.

Coding opens doors to people and experiences

While Katharina and Besiana are busy setting up their laptops and smartphones, Janine Fuchs from We Shape Tech and Samuel Huegli, CTO & Head of Digital Ventures at Tamedia are taking the stage to welcome the participants. “Coding, as any language,” says Huegli, “is a door opener to people and new worlds”. To be fluent in coding is a big step towards a sustainable career and life. It also will be key to build more diversity in the workplace of the future. Sarah Safri, Head of Marketing at Tamedia’s Competence Centre confirms that coding skills continue to be increasingly important in the workplace. Coming equipped with a coding skillset is a clear competitive advantage. Sylvia Epaillard, Managing Director at Digital Ad Services Goldbach Group stresses the role of technology in advertising and how embedding automated ads can actually be key to monetizing blogs and content.

Top f.l.t.r.: Janine Fuchs, WST, Samuel Huegli, CTO & Head of Digital Ventures at Tamedia.
Below f.l.t.r.: Sylvia Epaillard, Managing Director at Digital Ad Services Goldbach Group, Sarah Safri, Head of Marketing at Tamedia’s Competence Centre – photos by Jasmin Frei

Coding skills and diversity in the workplace

But how can coding skills lead to more diversity in the workplace? Alexandra Imbach, Researcher at Fachstelle Gleichstellung, Kanton Zürich demonstrates with the help of an online job game how deeply rooted gender biases are and that it takes a conscious effort not to let those stereotypes get into the way of choosing the right career path for oneself. The short history of coding in itself is a great example of how gender stereotypes can drive career choices. While in its early days’ coding was considered a “women’s job” because it required a high level of concentration and orientation towards detail, coding suddenly became a male domain with the rise of the gaming industry in the 90s. 

Alexandra Imbach, Fachstelle Gleichstellung, Kanton Zürich, interacting with the crowd while introducing the online game “Job-Matcher” – photo by Jasmin Frei

Let’s dive into the coding adventure

In the meantime, the participants are full of beans to get started. To help everyone through the first clumsy steps of coding, Melanie Kovacs founder of Master 21.Academy, demonstrates how fast our judgment kicks in during a new learning experience. Maintaining a positive mindset while stumbling through the first attempts can be key to pushing through and learning something new. By now, the participants are ready and eager to dive into their first piece of code. Chanel Greco from Master21 takes everyone through a carefully crafted tutorial that supports learning in three steps. First, understanding the theory behind coding, then watching her code and then trying it out oneself. Soon the participants understand the difference between HTML and CSS and have learned the basic coding vocabulary: that every code has a body and that tags are used to display content in a certain way or enable an action. The clear explanations and instructions are supported by a group of coaches who help troubleshoot and enable participants to soon look back at their first successes and programmed websites.

Chanel Greco, Lead Teacher for the coding courses of Master21.Academy, guides the participants hands-on and step by step – photo by Jasmin Frei
Coaches of Tamedia and Master21.Academy support the participants when required – photo by Jasmin Frei
Lena Mourad, Master21.Academy, co-organizer of the event, in exchange with the participants – photo by Jasmin Frei

Do you reflect on your learning?

At the end of the evening, WE SHAPE TECH board members and the M21 team wrap up a successful event with an official closing. Melanie Kovacs from Master 21 shares that learning solidifies when it is reflected upon. She encourages the participants to continue applying their new skills and then they all receive a certificate that mirrors what they have learned. Next, flowers and gifts are passed to all the helping hands who made the evening possible. Then everyone gathers at the buffet for some casual networking.

Melanie Kovacs, Master21.Academy, sharing that learning solidifies when it is reflected upon – photo by Jasmin Frei

Checking back in with the participants on their way out, Katharina shares that she has gained an insight into the world of possibilities coding can open for her. With her new start-up at the back of her mind, she wants to dive further into coding online-ads. Besiana gained a basic understanding of how websites are structured and how she can combine coding and design principles. Two hiring managers, Marcel and Juliana who came to gain a better understanding of the skillsets the coders at their company bring to the table, are now even more impressed with their abilities and wonder what the deep immersion of a university degree would enable. them to create.

Melanie Gabriel, WE SHAPE TECH, thanks all who made this event possible, congratulates the participants and promotes the next events – photo by Jasmin Frei
Co-organizers and coaches – photo by Jasmin Frei
Co-organizers, lead teacher and partners – photo by Jasmin Frei
Event promotion

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