Tactics for Women Who Want Programming Careers

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For years, the numbers of women in computer programming careers, at all levels, have been low. As the digital age of the 2020s move along, males still outnumber females by about four to one in the field. And the disparity is not for lack of scholarship money, tuition incentives, or aggressive outreach on the part of schools. In fact, millions of dollars of earmarked funds go unused every year simply because, compared to men, very few women want to become programmers.

The good news is that for those who do desire to spend their post-college years in the competitive, highly technical niche of the work force, there are several effective tactics for getting to the top quickly. In addition to obtaining a master’s degree, women on the digital track can take advantage of internships, paid part-time jobs while in school, self-teaching, pro bono gigs, and more.

Major in a Business Subject

Women who major in non-technical subjects, like management, marketing, or liberal arts, tend to have an easier time getting into the better master’s programs. Admissions directors prefer candidates who display a well-rounded undergraduate education, but it doesn’t hurt to take several elective courses in computer programming. To bolster your tech acumen, consider enrolling in a bootcamp or summer intensive course immediately after college. Many of these condensed curricula teach you two or three essential languages as well as core programming skills in just one or two months. Some are online but others are available at major academic institutions for in-person learners.

Fund and Obtain a Graduate Degree

Earning a master’s degree in computer programming is one of the fastest ways of leaping ahead of the competition and securing employment with a large, stable corporation. During school, it’s wise to focus on grades and save a few hours for part-time work and internships. But, the smartest path, for those who want to avoid paying while in school, is to apply for a student loan from a private lender to cover all the expenses. Private sources offer competitive rates, reasonable terms, and repayment plans that fit budgets of newly hired programmers.

Apply for Internships

Many undergrad and grad-level computer programming programs offer course credit for internships, which is a win-win for students. Not only do they get career-specific experience in a real job setting, but the coursework typically involves no homework and a pass-fail grading system. However, many view intern gigs as the ideal way to begin building a professional network of prospective employers. Thousands of former interns eventually land excellent jobs with companies they spend one or two semesters working for during the college or graduate school programs.

Teach Yourself

Fortunately, the internet offers a wealth of opportunities for learning programming languages at your own pace, and usually at no cost. Speak with a guidance counselor or mentor to find out which languages are the best ones to learn on your own. The self-study tactic can save you money and help add heft to a computer programming resume. Avoid devoting time to unusual languages. Instead, try picking up one of the top-three, namely Python, C/C++, or JavaScript. Be careful not to sign a contract for a lengthy set of courses or pay anything more than a nominal fee for online packages. Self-study can serve as the basis of your introduction into the world of professional computer programming work.

Find Pro Bono and Charity Opportunities

Consider offering your services for free to a charitable organization you support, to a church, or to a worthy startup that needs help. When you work with no financial compensation, be certain to keep detailed records of your duties, projects, and everyday tasks. The primary reason for adding pro bono experience to your resume is to appear more attractive to prospective employers.

Consider Starting Your Own Company

If the corporate world is not your cup of JavaScript, give serious thought to teaming up with one or two others and starting a consulting company. At first, the focus will be on getting those first few clients, but after that, you can use referrals and networking to spread the word and promote your new startup. Top-notch computer programmers are in short supply, so once you establish your business, expect to stay busy year-round. Start following some of the best and most innovative women’s startups to get a taste of what it takes to succeed as a business owner and be exposed to discussions about women working in this field.

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