CodeWomen: A key component of Victoria Parker’s successful first year in Barcelona

By Didi Svetaketu

Victoria Parker has transformed her life over the course of a year and she’s proud to credit the women who helped her get to where she is today. Last July, Victoria arrived in Barcelona awaiting a visa, a social circle, and a career opportunity in the tech industry. While working in Argentina as a hotel receptionist, she enrolled in an online bootcamp, and after learning to code she tried to transition into tech. 

On top of the bootcamp being virtual and taking place in the middle of the pandemic, her teacher and classmates were all men. These factors made it even harder to socialise and enter the industry, but Victoria remained hopeful. She thought, “just because that’s how it is doesn’t mean that’s how it should be,” and she planned to spend her time in Barcelona, finding a more representative community to help get her into the career she wanted.

That summer, Victoria began attending meetups for coders in Barcelona. At the beginning of her journey, she couldn’t find her footing at coding events. As a bootcamp student and independent studier, events organised for coders with senior positions were too technical. Also, attendees would respond to her with a “pity face” when she explained to them that she was new to the industry. Still, she didn’t lose faith. “One day I will understand [technical concepts], but if I give up, then I will never understand.”

Getting involved with CodeWomen

Victoria attended her first CodeWomen event in September after finding the organisation on Eventbrite. Instead of awkwardly introducing herself to a new group of professionals, Victoria received warm and welcoming reception from the CodeWomen members. Among a healthy mix of beginners and veteran developers, Victoria felt comfortable speaking up and asking for help. The best part about this group: no pity faces.

In the months following her first meeting, Victoria received in-person feedback on her work at CodeWomen’s signature monthly event Coding with Coaches. She would study on her own and encounter problems, and then go to CodeWomen events to discuss her problem with an experienced developer. Victoria says this was extremely motivating:

It is great to study on your own, see what’s not working, go to the CodeWomen event and have someone sit with you just out of commitment for helping other women to learn and get into coding.

Finding the confidence to find the right job 

At a CodeWomen workshop dedicated to job searching and interview preparation, Victoria presented her skills and learned how to sell herself with the support of CodeWomen volunteers. “In general, it’s hard for women [to sell themselves]” meaning that as women, we are more inclined to downplay our accomplishments compared to men. What helped Victoria feel comfortable and confident sharing her experience was the environment at CodeWomen. It was as if someone was saying, “here we appreciate you.” With a few tweaks to her CV and a few practice runs of job interviews organised by CodeWomen, Victoria received calls from companies looking to interview her. In March, she accepted a position as a junior back-end developer.

What’s next? 

One year since moving to Barcelona and 11 months since joining CodeWomen, Victoria knows for sure what her next step will be: helping to expand the CodeWomen community. Whether as a coach or a volunteer, she’s empowered to offer advice to newer students and to give what she can, even as a junior developer. As someone who has overcome the challenge of landing a position in a male-dominated industry, she wants to help other women get into coding and tech. “Once you see there’s a problem and there’s a solution, you want to be part of the solution. It feels like there’s a place for me [at CodeWomen] to be part of the solution.”