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Kathleen Garvin

Q&A with Ashley Chapokas of Girl Develop it Philly & Coded by Kids

Kathleen Garvin
Q&A with Ashley Chapokas of Girl Develop it Philly & Coded by Kids

Can one class change your whole career trajectory? It happened to one young woman in the Philly tech community.

Ashley Chapokas is the lead front-end developer for Seat Engine, Lead Volunteer Coordinator for Girl Develop It and Lead Instructor of Coded by Kids. After taking her first Girl Develop It class, Ashley was hooked — she continued to take courses, attend tech meetups and learn as much material as she could.

Over the course of a year, Ashley made the career transition from an administrative assistant to a front-end web developer. She landed her first position in 2014, and hasn't looked back since. Learn more about her story after the jump.

Question: Can you provide some background on work experience and your journey to tech?

Answer: In 2013, I made the transition to tech. It wasn’t easy, but I really wanted this for myself, so I worked quite hard.

I was working as an administrative assistant at the time, when a colleague of mine mentioned Girl Develop It. I was curious, so I signed up for the “Intro to Web Concepts” class. After those two hours, I was hooked. I started taking oodles of classes with Girl Develop It, Code Academy and Women Coding Collective.

A few months later, I was accepted into an apprenticeship where I learned the core concepts of web development; projecting me further into development and closer to a career. At the end of that year, I had gained enough skills to be hired at a local tech firm as a front-end developer. Success!

Q: What made you pursue a career in tech?

A: I studied Architecture in college. There is a pretty clear connection between architecture and front-end development; we even use the same terminologies! I am a technical person with creative passions, so it truly is the perfect fit for me.

Q: What about this particular field lets you know it's right for you?

A: I love front-end development. Right now I am beginning to learn programming and back-end technologies. I am not a math-y person, but with that being said, I love solving problems, especially logic games. Ideally, I’d like to be a front-end developer who understands back-end technologies, like Ruby.

Q: What are the perks of working in tech and being a woman in the field?

A: The perks of being a woman in tech is that everyone is rooting for you. Especially if you surround yourself with truly incredible, supportive people.

Q: What advice would you give others who are looking to make a career transition or are currently going through one?

A: Keep on pursuing your goals! Don’t be persuaded if there are set backs. Find a mentor, and set aside time for self care.

Kathleen Garvin is an online editor and analytics wrangler for The Penny Hoarder, the largest personal finance blog. She's also a contributing writer for I Want Her Job and started a beginner-friendly digital marketing blog, The Maroon House. Kathleen is the former blog editor at SEMrush.

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