(Cross-posted from DEV)
Welcome to our first “CodeNewbie Community Spotlight” — a series where we interview an individual from our community and highlight all that they’ve accomplished. We can’t wait to celebrate our CodeNewbie community in a new and different way each month!
Name: Bekah Hawrot Weigel
After going through a personal trauma, I was having a really difficult time. It was hard to concentrate. It was hard to go to my job. It was hard to feel whole. My husband is a developer, and he kept encouraging me to learn how to code. I was really annoyed — I had enough on my plate with a new baby and a physical and mental health crisis, but I ended trying freeCodeCamp just to get him to stop asking. And what I found was the cycle of traumatic memories stopped when I was coding. I focused on the code and the learning and the errors, and I felt relief for the first time in a year. So for me, it was therapeutic. And to quickly find some amazing communities (including CodeNewbie!) gave me the support and reassurance that I needed to keep pushing forward.
Honestly, I value connection with the people I work with over everything else. So my dream role will always be working with people who are kind, empathetic, willing to listen, and let me learn. In terms of product, I would love to build something that improves the medical field. Right now, I have an open source project to monitor postpartum wellness. If I ever get that into production and if it helps even one woman with an early diagnosis of a postpartum mood disorder or to reach out for help, I would consider that a dream come true.
One of the things I learned about trauma is that being in isolation is never a good thing. Having a community around you to support you, cheer you on, help you to learn and grow can make the difference between progress and failure. When people talk about mentors, I always think about the ones who helped me through the journey of coding, and not necessarily the ones who walked through my codebase. It’s because of them that I kept moving forward and eventually learned to believe in myself. That might come naturally to some people, but it took me a while to get there.
I am so proud of creating a Virtual Coffee! I started it after I lost my job temporarily due to COVID, and I was really struggling. To combat my feelings of loneliness, I invited anyone on Twitter to have coffee for an hour via Zoom. And it’s grown into an online community of developers at all stages who mentor, create educational content and provide a safe community at no cost. I was really excited to be supporting our community maintainers and contributors for Hacktoberfest. There’s a wonderful closeness and intimacy with this group that I’ve not found anywhere else.
I’ve already touched on working through trauma and losing my job, so I’ll add making it through my first year as a developer. I had a ton of self-doubt. As a career changer, a woman, and a mom, I didn’t see many stories like mine. In fact, I saw a lot of stories of women like me leaving tech. And it took a long time to realize that the struggles I was going through were the struggles that everyone else goes through. It wasn’t that I wasn’t smart enough or that I wasn’t moving fast enough; it was that I needed to figure out my process and the best way to communicate with the other developers I’ve worked with. They’re growing pains. And now I’m confident that if I don’t know how to do it or what’s even happening with the code, that I’ll be able to figure it out.
I have written one memoir, three screenplays (two were co-written), and three pilot episode specs for fun!
_To read more about Bekah’s coding journey, you can follow her here on CodeNewbie Community at @bekahhw.