Speaking up, asking questions, leads to incredible opportunities: Katy’s Story

Katy Campen has accomplished a lot in her few years working in the technology industry.

She’s taught coding, developed curriculum, founded a coding camp for girls, planned events and a host of other things.

Despite her ambitious resume, Katy would not describe herself a naturally outgoing. She instead has built a career from asking questions and reaching out to the tech community.

After graduating college with a wide-ranging advertising degree with little job prospects, Katy landed an internship that required she have some experience in web programming. A friend told her about The Iron Yard and encouraged her to look into the courses.

“I just thought this sounded really different, an accelerated learning path. It was just something I had never heard of,” she said.

Katy moved from Tennessee to Greenville, SC to join classes at the campus.

“Oh my gosh, I was so terrified. I think I may have been the youngest person there because I was still fresh, a little bit out of college, and a lot of people in my [class] were transitioning in between jobs or had some sort of professional experience. I was a little terrified to say the least,” she said.

In spite of her fear, Katy jumped in and got to work–a theme that will run through her professional life.

“Once I got there, there’s this magic that happens around week two. I mean from the start, around week two, everybody is aware of the insane amount of work we’re going to be doing together, and what it will require us to get from week two to week twelve.”

After graduating Katy moved to Knoxville, TN, plugged herself into the growing tech community and started a meetup for people working with Javascript. Through a friend in the Tennessee tech community, Katy connected with people who were starting a kids coding summer camp. She found herself teaching, writing curriculum, planning events, just about every role associated with the program.

While teaching at the summer camps, Katy noticed most of the students were boys. In some camps, there were only a couple of female students. Other campus instructors noticed the same pattern and “we wanted to change this.”

Katy co-founded 100 Girls to Code, a camp for girls who want to learn more about programming. The goal of 100 Girls to Code was to have free female only code camps across rural parts of Tennessee.

The original goal of the camp was to have 100 girls enrolled. Nearly 500 girls signed up.

While traveling across Tennessee with the code camps, Katy got connected with the tech community in Nashville.

“There are a lot of women focused tech meet-ups in Nashville which made it easy to meet people. So I moved to Nashville and started focusing my attention from teaching back to coding full time.”

Katy now works for the email marketing company Emma, another opportunity born from reaching out the tech community.

It’s no surprise Katy’s advise to anyone want to work in the coding field is to speak up as much as possible.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always reach out and try and network as much as possible, just because from my personal experience that has helped me get to where I am. That’s how I ended up landing this job, and that’s how I ended up meeting so many of the great people that I know involved in the industry is just talking to people, and then asking questions, asking for help when I need it.”

Katy’s experience in her coding courses fostered these skills that have proven to be important to her career.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. It’s okay if you are afraid, just make sure you’re voicing how you feel and voicing your questions and concerns. Going through the bootcamp, going through the Iron Yard definitely helped get me where I am today.”

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