Building your own website application can be an overwhelming process, involving complicated tech-speak and limitless options. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would hold your hand to walk through the steps? Thanks to Django Girls, an opportunity is coming up for women in the Kansas City area! Ashley, one of the mentors, has some insights for us.

Kansas City Website Coding - Django Girls logo

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Ashley Sullins and I work as a front end developer at Big6Media, a software development company in Overland Park, KS. My coworker, Sara Heins and I will be leading the Django Girls workshop at the Sprint Accelerator on June 24th-26th.

When did you get into programming and what do you love about it?

When I was in middle school, I built websites using HTML and CSS, but didn’t consider it as anything more than a teenage hobby until I started working with software developers at my first job out of college. I was a Quality Assurance Analyst and had the desire to fix the issues that I found in the software but could only fix small bugs with my limited skill set, so I moved to Portland for 5 months last Summer to learn Java/Android development at a coding bootcamp. What I love about programming is that there are always interesting problems to solve and I learn something new everyday.

Tell us about Django Girls.

Django Girls is a non-profit organization and a community that empowers and helps women to organize free, one-day programming workshops by providing tools, resources and support. They are a volunteer run organization with hundreds of people contributing to bring more women into the world of technology.

During each event, 30-60 women build their first web application using HTML, CSS, Python and Django. Events take place worldwide, typically during or after major tech conferences in the area.

Django Girls website coding workshop attendees in Warsaw, 2014

What made you want to join Django Girls?

When I was in Portland, I was able to volunteer at a great event geared towards getting high school girls interested in technical professions. One of my goals when I came back to Kansas City was to continue mentoring, so when I heard about the event, I couldn’t wait to help. It’s a great way for women to practice their problem solving skills and give them the opportunity to learn first hand how the websites we visit everyday are built.

Tell us about the upcoming Kansas City programming workshop, June 24-26.

It’s going to be a great time! Friday night, June 24th, there will be an installation and pizza party. Mentors will be on hand to help set up all the tools the group will need to build the blog website they’ll be creating the next day. On Saturday, Sara and I will walk the group through the essentials of how to build a website – from creating a sweet front end to storing blog posts and comments on the backend, with mentors on hand all day to help. On Sunday, there will be a networking brunch for attendees to learn more about careers in the tech industry.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

I’m looking forward to meeting all of the women at the event and giving them lots of high fives when they are able to figure out a solution to a problem they run into during the event. And seeing all of the awesome websites they’ll be building!

Django Girls website coding workshop in Warsaw, 2014

What do you love about what DG does?

I love that the organization is trying to get more women interested in technology and I also love the fact that event is free! All you need to bring is your laptop and yourself.

What future plans lay ahead for DG?

If the session goes well and there’s more interest in the community, another local event may be planned in the future.

Where can someone find more information about DG, and the Kansas City event in particular?

The official Django Girls website is https://djangogirls.org/. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Kansas City event can go to https://djangogirls.org/kansascity for details. See also https://www.facebook.com/DjangoGirlsKC/ and https://twitter.com/djangogirlskc.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are still looking for additional mentors to help at the event. A mentor does not need to be a Python or Django developer to help – all they need are basic programming fundamentals and good problem solving skills. Mentors can sign up at https://djangogirls.org/kansascity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Django Girls workshop in Kansas City is free for women to attend, but you must apply and be selected.  The application process is open until May 27th, 2016. Read about the criteria they use to choose applicants on the Django Girls blog. Good luck!

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