Interview With Shmuela Jacobs, Founder Of ngGirls

I met Shmuela at Frontend Connect in September and had a chance to interview her. She stole my heart with her openness and passion for teaching women to code. Her initiative called ngGirls is keeping her busier and busier and spreads like a virus. A good kind of virus, though – the one that makes people want to share. On the 9th of December, we’re hosting an ngGirls event in Poznan!

 

Joanna: What made you start this community for Angular?

Shmuela: I wasn’t born as a programmer. I was learning Physics in my childhood and later I realised that this is not for me. When I tried to find something that could be interesting for me I started with Systems Engineering which made me get familiar with the basics of Systems. My husband saw that I am good in logical thinking and also I was helping him with his assignment once in programming and it was the time I found out that programming is really good and this is how I started the community.

Was those coding classes were like love at first sight?

Sometimes it was yes for some programming languages like Angular, Python, C++ etc. After getting to know the programming language I started to feel that it is not so hard as I assumed before and as a girl, I felt that I am really good at programming. I was going to coding classes and sometimes the classes were with women only and this is how I got interested.

Were there any groups for women coders back then?

Three years ago I went to Django Girls event and I had a great experience there. And a year ago I started to develop the community. There were groups like Google CodeF for women, groups of women developers etc. There are a lot of groups now comparing back then. ngGirls were inspired by Django Girls.

What is the formula that you used to build ngGirls?

The participants have to apply through the form and answer why do they want to participate and how they are going to get through the community. I selected those who were more involved in the community and people who were less experienced. Women who come and learn Angular programming with mentors. They sit in small groups of three or four with developers and keep an eye on the attendees. There will be always a mentor to help them and also there are tutorials that they could use for learning.

What is the project that girls work on today?

It is a simple application. We do practical things that you can see in the browser and you can deploy and save the data. It is a to-do list tutorial which makes you understand what you need to know for the web application to work.

What are the important aspects that you need in the web application?

When you see something on the webpage you type in first thing it should appear to you as a screen. Then if you want to respond to the user, the user types the input and will enter the data in the form and press enter. Here comes the dynamic list which gets the data and adds it to the list. You can edit and remove lists and manipulate them. When you deploy it you are able to share it with your friends which is available online also. These are the general aspects. Regarding Angular itself, we are using the basic building blocks of Angular (components and services). We provide good practices and we also have directives that are built in angular.

Are ngGirls different from other initiatives?

Yes, of course. ngGirls are different from others because the thing we do here is teamwork. You don’t have to do anything alone. There are other women with you, there is a mentor to support you when you have any questions. This makes the big difference between other self-taught initiatives and ngGirls. One of our main goals is to inspire women to become developers. It is easy to start with the tools provided in the Angular team which is really easy to create a web application in one day. We also provide links for learning so that we don’t dig in too much.

Why are you that much involved in communities and events?

It’s been already a year that ngGirls are active. I have been participating monthly in a conference or workshop, so far it’s already 10 events. I do all of it on my own time. I love to teach coding and I love people. Getting together with a group and coding motivates me. This made me get more involved in this kind of events and communities.

Are you doing all of the activities alone or is there a team that is helping you?

I have few friends who are interested in helping us. There is Robert who is a mentor for our team. He likes the idea of helping us with our events as a mentor. He is also organizing events by himself in Germany. There are more people like him that are helping us send promotional emails to conferences and track applications. The conferences such as Frontend Connect or Angular Connect have the resources to help me organize the communities and ngGirls events.

How many participants are there usually?

This time in August we had the biggest ngGirls event that happened so far. There were about 50 participants and 18 mentors. The event was held as a part of front end conference. The organizers helped the mentors to get here, get accommodation and everything. Most of the mentors are speakers at the conference and this is how we run successfully.

How long and how fast does it takes to organize the event?

We always have at least a month to organize the event because the audience need to know about the event and also it takes at least two weeks to assign the mentor and you need at least a week to get sign from them and also mentor needs to help them remotely so it will be better if there are minimum 1-2 months.

If you were to encourage someone to take part in ngGirls, what would you say to this person as a participant and as an organizer?

I have been to too many of those events and I saw so many participants enjoyed our event and how focused they are on the tutorials. Also, the mentors are super friendly and I would say that it is a great environment to learn to start coding and to be a developer. This can be the first experience to convince you to do this job. I can also talk about how Angular works and explain what it does and I would try to motivate them to learn something new.

Did you hear any of a case of any women who went to ngGirls and decided like I want to be a developer?

Yes, I get feedback from some of the girls. One girl came with her sister to learn Angular. The little sister wasn’t so sure whether she wanted to do programming at all. But after she attended the workshop, she decided to study computer science and get a job as a programmer.Another case is a woman who already has a family grown up kids and she came up from the field of design UX. She also decided to learn Angular and front end and finally, she chose ngGirls. At the end she joined the group and spending 3 months in a group she decided to apply for a job in a startup and got an assignment on Ruby on Rails which she doesn’t know anything at all. I have sent the tutorials and all materials and explained some stuff and she was eager to learn more and in 3 days she learned the Ruby on Rails from scratch.

You said some of the ngGirls are stand-alone events. If someone wants to bring ngGirls to their town, what should they do?

You have to find a location for hosting and whoever is organizing the event is responsible for handling all the applications of the participants and the mentors. They are also responsible for screening them if there are too many applicants and sending all the emails and preparations and assigning the mentors etc. Once everything is ready, ngGirls can help you with promotion on Facebook and some social media.

Sounds great! Then I’m sure I’m bringing ngGirls to Poznan this year.

That’s would be great. See you in Poznan.