Rebecca Garcia, a self-taught computer wiz, fell in love with technology and never looked back. As co-founder of CoderDojo NYC, her organization is part of CoderDojo's global effort to publicize the exciting field of computer science with its emphasis on "sharing information freely."
A. I became interested in video games and making webpages around age 12, after my first hand-me-down computer from my godfather. After realizing that there was a way for me to create, build and share what I was passionate about, I've never stopped trying to learn new things.
Q2. Did you receive encouragement from your family?
A. At first when I was younger, my family thought I was simply "playing video games," when what I was really doing was making websites and teaching myself computer programming. Later on, my sister saw my potential and encouraged me to attend a technology summer camp at M.I.T.
Q3. What kind of skills, aptitudes and strengths are needed to succeed in this particular industry?
A. Constant love of learning -- the ability to keep up with the latest technologies and programming languages. It doesn't matter if you're self-taught or went to school, if you show your passion through projects, and contributing back to the open source technology community, your value is immense.
Q4. Please explain your work with CoderDojo: How did you get involved and what are your goals for the program?
A. After co-founding CoderDojo NYC, I wanted to be further involved with the global community. I found myself in Ireland for the first international conference, volunteering to help with the new website development initiatives which include getting more girls and women in CoderDojo; both attending and mentoring as well as better communication on how we run our chapters, sharing resources and growing as a whole. Currently, this is part of what I do at the "Hello World Foundation," also helping expand the CoderDojo presence in the U.S.
Q5. Do you see the computer field as becoming more accepting of women? Why/Why not?
A. There has been a definite shift toward recognizing women, and a movement to make sure that they are part of the technology field. I believe this growth will only happen if we have more role models in the field who don't simply instruct, but "inspire."
Q6. How can parents best help their kids who wish to pursue this field? What specific steps should they take?
A. I believe that parents should allow their children to explore their passions in fun and creative ways, to see if STEM is right for them. They may like some areas of it, they may not like others.
CoderDojos are great starting grounds to introduce them to different languages and hardware. There are some specialized schools that introduce or focus on technology, but I don't believe that should be the only indicator of a good step to take, but rather collaboration, how they integrate technology as a communication and creating tool. If there isn't something in your area, you can always start one, the idea isn't that you need to be a perfect programmer, but rather willing to learn and share.
Q7. What career trends do you see taking place as it relates to computer science?
A. Right now is a great time for specializations and newer careers being created from new markets. I think the idea that the next generation needs "creators" not just "consumers" is on its way up. There is a demand for creative skill, to innovate and solve global and community problems.
Q8. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. There is always a way for you to find your passion and incorporate it to what you do. If your dream career doesn't exist, you can create it.
The video listed below explains the CoderDojo movement.
http://www.coderdojonyc.com/. For locations across the globe, visit http://www.coderdojo.com/.
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