One of the biggest reasons Ladies Learning Code workshops have become so popular is because of people we like to call Mentors.
Ladies Learning Code workshops range in size – when we started, our workshops usually had between 30 and 60 participants. Now, some of our workshops are as large as 160 learners (depending on the topic and the space we have available)! We partner with some of Toronto’s most talented developers and designers, such as Pearl Chen, Wes Bos, Mark Reale and Dessy Daskalov and many more, to build the content for our workshops. It’s a big job – leading a workshop involves often involes about 40 hours of content development, in addition to a full day of instructing. The fact that so many of our Lead Instructors have happily returned to lead additional workshops amazes us – we are so lucky to have such wonderful volunteers helping to make Ladies Learning Code a reality.
While our Lead Instructors are front and centre, with a microphone helping them reach the very back of the space, our amazing Mentors are scattered throughout the room. Mentors sit amongst the learners at a ratio of (almost always) 1 Mentor for every 4 learners. (That means that some of our workshops – the largest ones – require 40 Mentors for an entire day!) This supports our effort, and makes it possible for us to provide the collaborative, social, beginner-friendly learning environment that Ladies Learning Code workshops are now known for.
Mentors really are the magic. Rather than wandering around the room and jumping in when people raise their hands, Ladies Learning Code Mentors are actually assigned to four participants. It creates a better experience for everyone. It creates an opportunity for Mentors and participants to get to know each other, and each other’s learning styles. It also creates a semi-customized learning experience for the participants, which is difficult to find at other workshops. Because each Mentor is only responsible for helping four participants, it means that there is someone beside you to answer your questions throughout the day. If you’re falling behind, a Mentor is there to help you. If, on the other hand, you’re catching on quickly, a Mentor can offer additional challenges so that you get the most out of the day. Without Mentors, Ladies Learning Code workshops wouldn’t be the same. We’re so grateful to Toronto (and now Vancouver’s!) tech communities for supporting Ladies Learning Code. And if you’re a developer or designer but haven’t yet been out to a Ladies Learning Code workshop as a Mentor? Join our mailing list here.
What does it take to be a Ladies Learning Code Mentor?
1 – A strong grasp of the subject matter, and experience working with it.
2 – A keen desire to help tech-savvy women (and men) learn something new.
3 – Patience and understanding – and a sense of humour doesn’t hurt.
One of the motivations that keep Melissa, Heather, Breanna and me going is the feedback we get from our learners, as well as our Mentors, after each event. Our learners rave about our Mentors and our Mentors rave about our learners. It’s really quite adorable. What I find particularly interesting is what our Mentors tell us they have gained from volunteering at Ladies Learning Code workshops. Our Mentors leave feeling energized, surprised, and even inspired by the Ladies Learning Code’s communities desire and excitement to learn to code.
What can be gained from being a Ladies Learning Code a Mentor?
1 – Communication and technical coaching skills.
2 – An appreciation and respect for gender diversity in the tech industry.
3 – How to work more effectively on technical projects with “non-technical” participants.
There are reasons our mentors volunteer again and again. The Ladies Learning Code community is dedicated, engaged, fabulous and growing! Join us!
Our Mentors are critical to the effectiveness of a Ladies Learning Code workshop. If you are interested in getting involved (and we hope you are!), please join our ‘tech help’ mailing list HERE for all the updates on upcoming events and volunteer needs.