Before my first meet-up, I used the Teen Ambassador Program Experience Guide to figure out how to prepare. I’ve facilitated similar activities before, but never entirely on my own. I followed the basic steps to running a meetup, starting with familiarizing myself with the topic. I followed LYNX tutorials and ran things over with my Computer Science teacher who is the teacher advisor for the club. I planned everything out from snacks to attendance spreadsheets and before I knew it, it was finally time for my first meet-up. To be completely honest, I was pretty confident about it. I had done a lot of preparation, most of the girls were pretty young and, I’m no expert coder, but I felt my skills were sufficient. Just as I predicted, the first meet-up ran smoothly and the GWC club members seemed to enjoy it!
My next meet-up was two weeks later. But this time, I was swamped with school work and barely had any time to go over the material. I showed up to the meet-up feeling nervous, unprepared and unconfident. I’m sure I remember it worse than it really was, but I recall not knowing how to help the club members when they needed it and relying heavily on my teacher. Embarrassed and not knowing what to do, I cut my teaching time short and instead, attempted to help coders one on one.
A few days later, the Teen Ambassadors had an online seminar called “The Confidence Code” hosted by people from Accenture. In the presentation, we talked about confidence and why it is important. A lot of information was covered: from confidence killers to how we can break out of them. After the seminar, I realized what my main confidence killer was: overestimating the value of expertise. As I thought more about my disaster of a meet-up, I found that it’s okay to not always know what you are doing.
The Teen Ambassador Program and the people from Accenture taught me that confidence is a choice and if we choose to be more confident, the people around us will choose it too. We can start with small steps like not apologizing before answering a question in fear of being wrong. Or in my case, act confidently by not hesitating when leading meet-ups. I won’t let my “small failure” hold me back. For my next meet-up, I challenged myself to continue on with the LYNX lesson and resist backing down, even if I’m not an expert on the material. Though there wasn’t a sudden, drastic change in my confidence, I felt a little more sure of myself and began to embrace the uncomfortable feeling of not always knowing what to do. I am looking forward to teaching again in my next meet-up, improving my confidence, and learning more about coding.
Guest blog post by Irene, a Canada Learning CodeTeen Ambassador. Irene is the head of the Girls Who Code club and has run three tech meet-ups at school. In December, Irene and her are planning to participate in the Hackergal Hackathon so to prepare, they’re focusing on learning the LYNX coding language that will be used in the Hackathon.
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