Young women of Chicago! If you are unemployed or underemployed, are struggling to pay for college, and have an interest in computer programming, freelance work, and the possibility of a technical career, you have a new champion of your cause, someone who is working just for you and wants to empower you through learning.
Introducing Jaiden Fallo, and FEMcoders
She is Jaiden Fallo, and she recently launched an organization called FEMcoders (short for the Financial Empowerment Mission for Coders). The organization’s mission is to help women who do not have the advantages afforded to someone with a traditional 4-year degree in Computer Science—like internships and job placement—learn how to code, and how to find and secure viable freelancing work that will enable them to earn an income as they gain experience and build their portfolios.
The FEMcoders Tech Career Seminar
Ambitious? Yes. Possible? Absolutely. Jaiden has already secured financial backing through a grant provided by Ann Taylor (an ANNpower Grant, awarded through the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative), and FEMCoders has just hosted their first important event. Made possible in part through the engagement and support of organizations like AT&T and Accenture, FEMCoders hosted their first Tech Career Seminar on June 11th at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The event offered ample opportunities for networking, a featured four wonderful speakers:
Cathy Deng: Developer at DataMade
Nicole Brooks: Specialist Applications Developer at AT&T
Katie Malone: Data Scientist at Civis Analytics (recently profiled on our blog!)
Adda Birnir: CEO and co-founder of Skillcrush
Among the topics discussed were how to choose the right online coding courses, how to start freelancing, how to build and optimize an online resume, and how to prepare for job interviews. A highlight of the event was the announcement of $7000 in scholarship money!
All at Udacity are extremely excited to be a part of the FEMcoders mission, and we cannot wait to begin working with the 5 individuals who received scholarships from Udacity to enroll in the Nanodegree programs of their choice. We’ll be announcing the winners soon over on our Medium publication, so please stay tuned!
Udacity and FEMcoders
Udacity’s connection to the FEMcoders story actually goes back a ways, to when a younger Jaiden Fallo earned a scholarship herself—from AT&T and Girls Who Code—and was able to enroll in a Nanodegree program with Udacity. It was this experience that ultimately helped lead Jaiden to founding FEMcoders in the first place. I say “younger” by the way, because it’s worth noting that Jaiden Fallo has only just graduated high school, and will be a freshman at Wharton in the fall!
“Women have worked hundreds of years to have a voice, and technology is the voice of the future. Why would we voluntarily give that up?”
Jaiden is that rare individual who is both a great communicator, and someone who understands when action is required. She can articulate her passions about women and technology with eloquence (see above!), but she also gets things done, and makes things happen. Prior to launching FEMCoders, for example, Jaiden channeled her new-found passion for programming—ignited by her recent Nanodegree experience—into a research project focused on “Media Stereotyping of Females in Computer Science.” Her research gained national recognition, and earned her a 2nd place finish in the MIT Inspire National Research Competition.
FEMcoders, and the work people like Jaiden are doing, are critical components in our collective move towards a world in which no one is excluded from opportunity, from the chance to empower oneself through learning, from the prospect of a better future made possible by rewarding employment. Udacity is honored to work alongside FEMcoders, and we join organizations like AT&T, Ann Taylor, Accenture, Skillcrush, and Code Avengers in supporting any effort that pursues as its objective a fair chance for all aspiring learners—no matter their circumstances—to translate their passions into opportunities.
We don’t know yet what Jaiden Fallo will do next, or what great success stories will emerge from this inaugural FEMcoders event. But I think we’re safe in saying that the future is clearly in good hands!