A year ago today, I started doing this crazy thing that I love.

Since I became a co-leader for Girl Develop It Chicago in January, I introduce myself in much the same way at every workshop, class, and event. It goes a little something like this:

Hi, my name is Liz, and I’m a co-leader for GDI Chicago along with Katy, say hi Katy! I’m currently a Software Engineer for an educational company called Instructure, but a year ago today, I wasn’t doing this. I was quitting a decent paying job with no real career prospects to attend Dev Bootcamp, and now I’m an engineer and I absolutely love what I do. I am here to help you see if you love this as much as I do. I learned HTML and CSS when I was a kid so I could build a fan website for NSync - it’s easy to learn, but hard to master, and you can totally do it! I love questions and I’m really nice, so you can email me anytime!

As of this weekend, I can no longer say “a year ago today” because I will have already quit that job and started working toward my goal of learning how to build software. I have been, in one form or another, working in web development for a year now.

It has not been without its ups and downs, but mostly it has been lots of ups.

In the past year, I have:

Plans for year 2? Year 5? Year 20? Already formed, and I can’t wait to see where my ideas and goals take me. But, I have a pretty good idea that there won’t be much snow wherever I end up following those goals and ideas.

The best part is that if I accomplished so much in the last year, I will be able to do so much more in the coming years now that I’ve gotten started. I want to get more scholarships for Girl Develop It students, learn more programming languages, speak at more conferences, write more Girl Develop It curriculum, guide more people toward a career in tech, improve my computer science knowledge, and get better at all of the things I already know.

I want to take my career up, up, and away, and I want to be a real person who isn’t just an example or a token, but a source of knowledge, advice, assistance, and (selfishly maybe) inspiration for women and minorities who want to transition to a technical career. I want to be a friendly light of optimism for people already in this field, reminding us why we all do what we do: because it makes us happy, and we love it.

Girl Develop It Chicago is looking for volunteers, sponsors, event spaces, and instructors. See more info here or donate online!


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