07/23/2020 Introduction to JavaScript Virtual TechShop Recap

Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch

Screenshot of participants and volunteers on a Zoom conference call

Learning to code takes courage and creativity. Those two traits were on full display in Elise Chokola’s “Introduction to JavaScript” virtual TechShop.

In this TechShop, girls learned the basic concepts of JavaScript, a programming language that helps make websites interactive. Elise was impressed by the students’ curiosity and willingness to “lean in.”

“I couldn’t believe how fearless the girls were! I certainly don’t remember being that confident at that age. They had extremely intelligent questions that they weren’t afraid to ask,” Elise explains.

In addition to courageously asking thoughtful questions, the girls added creative touches to their JavaScript projects.

“There’s this misconception that coding is rigid and lacks creativity, but each one of the students in this workshop put their personal spin on everything they did. Being able to customize your code is empowering, and the girls definitely experienced that right away,” Elise says.

For Elise, volunteering as a TechGirlz instructor also involved courage and creativity.

“I was scared I might not know enough to teach, but it’s okay to admit what you don’t know. There are so many knowledgeable and incredible TAs and instructors working here that have your back through the whole experience, and if you don’t know the answer, you can say, ‘I don’t know, but let’s find out together.’” Elise explains.

Elise was nervous going into the TechShop, though she soon realized there was no reason to be afraid; ultimately, she had a positive and rewarding experience. This TechShop was Elise’s first time teaching JavaScript, and she is mostly self-taught. Other people’s projects on CodePen, and her past experience with Java, inspired her to learn the language.

“My experience with JavaScript has just been teaching myself and coding projects to learn. It has been fun to add interactivity to my HTML/CSS projects,” Elise notes.

Portrait of Elise smiling for the camera outside on a sunny day
Though she works full-time as a pharmacy benefits analyst, Elise’s goal is to become a software engineer. She is currently a student at Montgomery County Community College, studying to earn her certificate in Software Engineering.

Elise wishes TechGirlz was around when she was in middle school, noting that she was the only girl at her website code camp at age 13. She felt so out-of-place and awkward that she decided to pursue interests other than tech after camp was over.

“If I had known that other girls were interested in coding I might have continued with it. I want to use this opportunity to inspire young women and make them feel included. This is not just for boys!” Elise says.

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