Volunteering with Girl Develop It has opened many doors as well as taught me many things. Through my involvement with GDI, I’ve learned how to schedule and host events and classes, plan and host parties, find locations through networking, and advertising through social media.
Listing it like that makes it sound like its a breeze, but a lot of thought and work goes into even one class or event. First, we have to figure out what subject people are interested in learning. When we have an idea of what classes we should offer, we have to check to see if GDI has a curriculum for that topic. If they do, then we have to find someone who can teach the class. If they don’t we can try and find someone willing to develop a curriculum. Once we have a curriculum and an instructor, we need to find a location to hold the class. Picking a day and time is usually the hardest part because we have to work that out with three different schedules. It has to be a day that the location has open as well as works for GDI chapter leaders and for the instructor. In Toledo, we have the extra challenge of trying to work around sporting events since our main location is near both the ballpark and the hockey rink. Once we have scheduled the event, it is important to post it on Meetup and share it on social media. It’s not all work of course. There are many social events that are made for networking and these events tend to be a lot of fun.
Through networking, I’ve met many brilliant people who work in a range of different fields. It’s also a good way to find other ways to get involved. Give Camp is one of the ways I’ve become more involved in the community. Give Camp creates websites for non-profits. This would also be where I first met my mentor, Christina Aldan. I got to know her a little better at our second meeting which took place at a conference called CodeMash, where I volunteered as an intern. Involvement in GDI helped me with my application to be an intern at CodeMash. A few months after this conference Christina officially became my mentor. She has taught me a great deal so far and I’m looking forward to learning a great deal more.
I now spend 3 hours each night doing tutorials and research that helps develop my skills as a web designer and other skills to help me advance towards a career in web design. There are more resources out there than most people think. Most people believe that the only way to learn these skills and better your life is to go to college. That’s not actually true. I use
resources such as CodeAcdemy, KhanAcademy, MIT open courseware, Coursera, HTML5 rocks, W3Schools, Udemy, as well as youtube tutorials, and many others. I have found these to be great free or low costing resources that are actually kept up to date. Unlike most college curriculums, which tend to be outdated. It is a lot of work and it does take more discipline than college because there are no imposed deadlines, but if you make it a habit to work a regular schedule, learning in this manner will help develop other non-academic skills important for a career.
Some of the things I’ve learned recently is how to write press releases and do Yoast SEO (search engine optimization). By knowing these skills, I now have a wider, more marketable skill set. I won’t make a full living by doing those two things, but I can make a little bit which does help out. The more skills I have and accumulate, the more money I can make. More importantly, these skills will help me to have a meaningful career where I can provide a service to others doing something I enjoy.
My strongest skills are the actual design of the website and writing the code behind them. Being able to do SEO helps make the site better and more likely to be seen faster when using a search engine, which makes the website more valuable. Just like the skill of SEO won’t make you valuable by itself, there are many skills that alone provide little value, but learning them can set you apart from other candidates. I never considered that I would be learning skills such as SEO or writing press releases. These skills did not seem applicable to my career goals, but what I have learned is that most times it is necessary to learn some skills that seem unrelated to the actual job. The best skill you can have is to have the desire to keep learning every day because things change so fast and the more you better yourself the farther you will get in life.
Meet Christina Aldan for the first time and you will feel as if you have known her all your life. she is proof that you can Create Your Luck with perseverance and a desire to learn.