From Code First:Girls student to coding coach


By Jillian Guillen

Jillian Guillen is a DevOps trainee at our London Wall Academy. After learning about Sparta Global through a Code First:Girls workshop that was hosted and run by our Academy, Jillian jumped at the opportunity to give back. Joining other Sparta Global trainees, Jillian has volunteered to help coach young women in coding skills at Sparta Global’s latest Code First:Girls workshops. In this blog she discusses her journey into tech and her new role as a mentor for women…

I was constantly doubting myself, questioning where my future was heading and relying solely on my degree to help me pick a path to follow. After what seemed like an endless list of pros and cons, ifs and buts, three years of undergraduate study, a year abroad and one long jobless summer later - I found myself in awe and utter curiosity of the tech industry. Something had to be done.

It is important to note that my desire to pursue a career in the tech industry did not come out of the blue. My journey into coding began in 2018 when I applied for a Code First:Girls Level 1 HTML/CSS Web development course. I was lucky enough to be taught by passionate and dedicated instructors, who very much deserve an honorary mention - shout out to the Sparta Global trainers! I don’t know if you remember me, but thank you both for your patience and hard-work.  I vividly remember your enthusiasm for coding and what to avoid when designing a website.

From this, a fire in me had been ignited and a newly found passion for coding was born – and it all happened during my final year of University. Upon achieving a 2:1 at Kingston University, BA English Literature and Journalism, I spent long sombre Summer nights narrowing my goals to really understand where I was heading and which industry I truly wanted to explore.

Fast-forward to September and when my 10-week training began at Sparta Global. Currently, I am a trainee in DevOps. I would be lying if I said it was easy, I would also be lying if I said that everything we built worked! But coming into terms with a DevOps mentality, you realise there are many ways to do something and many ways to achieve a goal - do not get vendor-locked in or fixated with a single way of doing things. With the skills I have acquired, the mindset I have learned, the methods and approaches I have adapted, the possibilities are endless.

Now volunteering to help with Code First:Girls’ Level 2 Python workshop, I can see how far I have come, and it is amazing to see how attendees have doubled from when I attended last year. I was once that student thirsty for coding knowledge, eager to learn and curious about tech and the wonders of back-end.  Not having the right qualifications and technical background did not stop me. Equipped with drive and passion, I was not afraid to immerse myself in the industry.

For my future in tech, I would like to become successful in the field of DevOps - perhaps leading a team and building immutable, secure and robust infrastructures with constant integration, delivery and deployment. I whole-heartedly wish and encourage more women to engage in tech and learn how to code as it is not only a life-long skill but a skill that tests your agility and adaptability to constantly push you out of your comfort zone.

If you are willing to learn and are unafraid of making mistakes, you are already a step ahead!