Technology is changing the way we work, think, and especially the way we interact as a society. Along with opportunities to make an impact through innovative software, the tech industry also supplies many opportunities to bring communities together and simplify complex problems around us. But what if young people never hear about these opportunities? What if there is a gap between education and opportunity keeping innovators from becoming future developers?
The tech world is growing rapidly, but we cannot simply inject new ideas and new capital to keep up. In order for tech development to continue, education must match its pace of growth, and inform ordinary people of the limitless possibilities within tech development.
How does this journey of education begin?
Meet Lindsay Hohn. Hohn graduated from the Galvanize Web Development Immersive program at the Fort Collins campus and is now working at Radial Development Group, a fast-growing development house in Loveland, Colorado. She also co-directs the local Women Who Code chapter and is passionate about showing young women that they too can create things with code.
Hohn grew up attending an all-girls high school and went on to pursue biochemistry in college, with aspirations to get her PhD. She has always been fascinated by tech and websites but always just concluded they existed, with little thought of how. While Hohn was in school knee-deep in the sciences, no one ever told her about software development or where websites and apps came from.
After working in research labs for a few years pursuing a career in biochemistry, Hohn started working for a nonprofit business incubator that helped fund tech startups. She was attracted to this job as it fed her passion for commercializing the technology that was coming out of universities. Hohn always assumed her involvement in tech would be attached to sciences, but was unaware it would lead her to the science of software.
The moment Hohn realized there was an opportunity for her in the tech world was eye-opening.
“I had gone to a conference and the speaker asked who had a smartphone,” Hohn said, “and of course everybody raised their hand. Then he asked, ‘Who knows how to make an app or something that is used on a smartphone?’ and nobody raised their hand. I thought to myself, That’s insane. This is something we use every day. How do we not know how it works? That moment got me interested and thinking maybe I could figure this out.”
Shortly after, Hohn began her education with Codecademy, an online education program, and attended several coding meetup groups. After self-teaching for about a year, she enrolled Galvanize’s 6-month Web Development Immersive program.
When the program started, Hohn met a Galvanize Member named Sarnen Steinbarth. Steinbarth was working on his startup, TurboTenant—a platform that would make the home rental process easier for landlords—with help from Radial Development Group. Now, less than a year later, Hohn works at Radial herself helping Steinbarth build his company’s platform.
Now that she’s a software developer, Hohn hasn’t lost her interest in science—but she has been exposed to a whole new world of opportunity to apply those passions. Looking towards her future, Hohn dreams of how technology can be used to solve social issues.
“We’ve seen it with different apps. They can positively affect people’s lives and I just really would like to be a part of that,” Hohn said. “Look at Community Funded and Bulb [other Galvanize Members], they’re trying to use technology to help people’s lives. I think that is something I want to be a part of. That is one of the reasons I got into tech.”
Our community is fortunate that a young Lindsay Hohn attended a conference where someone challenged her to think about how things were made. We are fortunate Hohn was encouraged to learn how to develop software. But what if those moments never happened? What will we miss if we don’t educate the next generation of developers on the fact that they can create tech applications and develop tech that matters?
Radial Development Group schedules their staff for 32 hours a week, allowing staff to spend the other 20 percent of the time working on their own projects. Hohn uses this time experimenting with tech ideas that could foster social impact as well as mentoring other women in Northern Colorado who want to learn about coding. Although Hohn wishes she had heard about software development earlier on, she is now doing her part to help encourage and equip others wanting to get involved, through her leadership with Women Who Code and her involvement in her community.
Hohn started her journey pursuing biochemistry in science labs, and she has now arrived at a place where she is using science to make our society a better place in coding labs. This all started because people encouraged her that she could build something which could help solve real problems and bring lasting impact. People can’t just be consumers of technology; they need to understand they have the ability, skills, and creativity to create tech products that make the world a better place.
This post was written by Seth Silvers, CEO of Galvanize Member company Story On in Fort Collins, Colorado.