Here at LaunchCode, we get inspired by all the amazing stories of our students, apprentices, mentors and teaching fellows every day. They're the reason each of us comes to work every morning. This is Lilly's story, with a little foreword from one of her biggest fans:
"Lilly has been with the CoderGirl program for a little over a year, and it has been amazing to watch the progress she has made. She came to her first CoderGirl meetup with a dream to become a software developer. I remember having a lunch meeting with Lilly to talk about CoderGirl and opportunities with LaunchCode – and of course this lunch meeting turned into a two-hour galpal chat where I learned that she's actually an incredibly talented entrepreneur, artist, craftswoman, and cat lover. I was inspired and instantly thought, "She's definitely going to do this." A year later, here she is, a software developer and CoderGirl mentor. I am so, so proud of the work she has done and I can't wait to see where she will go and the ways she will continue to grow."
— Crystal Martin, CoderGirl Program Director
I heard about LaunchCode and CoderGirl from another graduate of the program, LaShana Lewis, whom I have known for many years. She highly recommended LaunchCode, and I respect her advice.
With a high school education, I worked in the printing industry operating offset duplicator printing presses for the first 12 years of my adult life. My first computer job was tech support for Datastorm Technologies. Before we could work with customers on the phone, we had 14 weeks of classroom training, 40 hours a week. At the end of that training we had computer knowledge equivalent to an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science. But all good things must come to an end, and a few months after I started, the company was bought out, and about six months later the doors were finally closed. For the next several years I worked in various aspects of the computer industry in support, software, hardware, technical writing, consulting, etc. About nine years ago most of the people in the company that I was working for were laid off. Because of my lack of formal education, it became next to impossible to even get an interview. After a few months of being unemployed, it became even more difficult to get interviews. So, I began filling my time with creating arts and crafts, writing novels, playing roller derby, volunteering in community theater, and studying to improve my coding skills.
I'm a Software Developer at The Phoenix Group, one of, if not the, largest distributor of Point of Sale systems in the United States. I create XAML UI and write C# code to interact with our SQL database. We have a team of five developers. We work individually on specific aspects of our projects, but we work together as a cohesive team, helping each other out and advising each other when needed. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with.
"Because of LaunchCode and CoderGirl, I learned that I wasn’t just a hobbyist programmer. I could actually use my skills in the real world."
CoderGirl is what helped me the most. The mentors were always willing to help me when I had questions about projects that I was working on outside of CoderGirl. The greatest thing that I learned was self-confidence. Because of LaunchCode and CoderGirl, I learned that I wasn’t just a hobbyist programmer. I could actually use my skills in the real world.
The process was fantastic. I had a couple of stumbling blocks along the way, but the staff of LaunchCode were always there to help me get back up and continue forward. I really didn’t begin with any expectations. All I had was hopes that maybe, after so many years of unemployment, I could restart my career.
Trust the process, listen to the advice and direction you get from LaunchCode, take advantage of anything and everything LaunchCode offers, for women, seriously consider CoderGirl, and spend every moment that you possibly can improving your knowledge and skills.
LaunchCode has not only given me back my career, but they have also given me back myself. With their help, I was able to pull myself out of what seemed like an endless downward spiral. I will never again allow my lack of formal education to keep me from being successful. I have LaunchCode to thank for that and I will be eternally grateful.