Learning to code to make a difference
Following her dream of being a full stack developer, Rahaf applied for a Re:Coded bootcamp to learn the skills she needed to build an online market app to support small Syrian businesses in Turkey.
min read //
September 9, 2021
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In every application to our bootcamps, one of the most central pieces of information we use in our extensive application process is their motivation to apply. How a bootcamp can help them make a difference in both their own lives and to others.
To Rahaf, one of our fellows in our Frontend Bootcamp in Türkiye, it is to be a full stack developer and build an online market app to help local Syrian businesses in Bursa.
"There are almost no apps that help the Syrian community in their daily lives. Almost every app is in Turkish, and many Syrian people don’t know Turkish. I want to build an online market application that could help the Syrian community. The app will create an inventory of goods from local Syrian markets which will make their goods available to wider public."
On the app, people will be able to see which markets are nearby and what they currently have in stock. Through digitization of local markets, Rahaf aims to reinvigorate businesses that haven’t had an online presence before.
Building a future
Originally from Damascus, Syria, Rahaf came to Türkiye five years ago. Before starting her new life in Türkiye, she completed her university studies in Syria in the IT field.
Although Rahaf studied Information Technologies, she says programming wasn’t a big part of her studies and had little to no opportunity to really learn how to code. After graduation, she decided to follow her passion for programming and started learning how to code on her own.
According to TalentGrid, this is quite a common pattern. In a survey from 2021, 426 students in Türkiye reported that ‘school alone is rarely enough to learn how to code and become a developer'.
When asked if coding is something she has always wanted to do, she quickly says yes. After graduating from high school in Damascus, she was supposed to study Economics. However, she didn’t dream of becoming an accountant - she wanted to work in tech.
"I went to study Information Technologies, because I love it. We are three siblings. My brother and I used to fight a lot about the computer. Whenever an error happens, my sister would call me to solve the problem on the computer. That’s when I realized that I really liked playing with technology. "
However, she reflects that there is more to coding than writing lines of code. One should enjoy problem solving and see problems as learning opportunities.
"I always tried to solve the errors on the computer which made me have a connection with technology."
Whenever you solve a problem, it feels that you learn something new.
Her effort in learning how to code helped to get her first job and she started working as a junior developer. Even though the work environment was friendly, she says she had to make a tough decision to quit her first job just after three months and started looking for other opportunities to advance her career in the digital economy.
"I was using Flash ActionScript at my job. I’ve seen that it is going to die. And I didn’t want to spend my time learning something that is going to fade away. So, I quit my job and focused on learning PHP by myself and then I applied to another job, and I got it. "
This comes as no surprise. In the TalentGrid report, 93% of youth surveyed expect to see professional growth opportunities, a good work life balance, team harmony, interesting problems to solve and a good company culture.
In 2013, she decided to complete her studies and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology at Syrian Virtual University - believing that a BA degree would qualify her for better jobs in the digital economy. However, when looking back on her career so far - she hasn’t really used her degree, but rather her programming skills she learned on her own.
Having previously focused on back-end development for nearly a decade, Rahaf wanted to learn about frontend web development to become a full stack developer so was thrilled when she found out about the Frontend Web Development Bootcamp at Re:Coded.
After going through a very competitive selection process, Rahaf beat out nearly 900 other applicants for one of just 25 spots.
Even though her family was very supportive of her applying to be part of the bootcamp, she says they couldn’t really understand what she can learn more as she is already a developer. However, she believes if you are a developer, you need to continue learning everyday which is also one of the key learnings Re:Coded is teaching the students.
"Programming is a field where you always have to keep up with new technologies. And, you have to learn constantly in order to be good at your job."
Two months into the bootcamp, she says the most challenging part has been to manage her time between her full-time work, bootcamp, and a lot of homework, she adds smiling.
"I spend a lot of time doing homework. But I guess this is really worth it, because the more you practice what you learn, the more it gets in the back of your head. And, after a while you just start doing it easily."
With homework and lab assignments, fellows practice what they learn in the class and master their newly gained skills. She says not only had she the opportunity to learn a lot in the bootcamp, but has also been able to deep dive into subjects she has been more familiar with.
"I learned deeper about the subjects I know. Also, there were subjects that I thought I knew, but I didn’t use them for a while. When I started to work on them, I realized I don’t remember anything. It took me a lot of time, but when we repeated it in the lab, practiced with homework and received support from trainers, everything started to come back. And of course, there are many new things that I've learned."
She says she is in the right place to achieve her future dreams and aspirations.
I want to be a full stack developer and help the Syrian community. With this bootcamp, I am seeing myself on the right track. So, I am really happy.
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