Code Next: Learning Something New When Experience Isn’t Enough
Contributed by Racheal M. Hill
Katherine Johnson, the mathematician at NASA who calculated the trajectory of the Apollo mission that would send man to the moon, was quoted in saying the following “Know how to learn. Then, want to learn.” As an advocate for continuous education, I knew that it was time for me to learn something new. I knew how to learn and I wanted to learn. Although I have an engineering degree, most of my career has been in operations management. I would frequently see many coding programs and scholarships for children but nothing for working adults that have established careers or are thinking of changing careers. I knew that my background in electrical engineering would help me learn how to code but after being in the workforce for so long I honestly just didn’t know where to start. Well, that was until The National Girls Collaborative shared the Karlie Kloss, Kode with Klossy career scholarship for women on social media. I was so excited to see a career coding scholarship offered for women that I immediately applied.
My desire for wanting to learn how to code stemmed from my passion in working with youth in underserved communities. In my service outreach with organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers and Seeds to STEM, I recognized that there was a need to have more professionals, such as myself, engaged in community centered out-of-school activities. Many children in the inner city cannot afford to pay for the out-of-school STEM programs and are dependent on nonprofits to close the parity gaps. For me, as an ambassador for NASA/JPL and a technical professional, I was uncomfortable with not knowing how to code and not being able to offer this type of programming to youth. Coding is the universal language that we all have in common because it affects so much of what we do and how we interact with the machines and devices in our daily lives. For me, in order to keep up with the workforce, I needed to know how to interpret, create, and articulate coding languages. I had the wisdom to accept that my technical skills lagged behind and the courage to pursue the change that I desired. Not only will learning how to code make me a more engaged and hands-on technical community leader, it will also equipment me with skills needed to stay competitive in the workforce.
After I received notice of being selected to receive the Kode with Klossy scholarship, things changed in my personal life overnight. As a mother, a working professional, and a graduate student in my final MBA courses I had to reevaluate my time and priorities. Time management has been more critical as I embark on my coding journey, while maintaining a work-life balance with my family and friends. Also, I had an outdated computer that did not meet the requirements needed for coding and programming so I had to invest in a device that met my education needs.
As an established professional, learning something new can be intimidating. The fear of the unknown and the uncomfortable zone can be stifling and keep you from reaching your true potential. However, staying in the comfortable zone can lead to “what-ifs” and regrets. Regardless of your age and where you are in your educational or professional journey, always strive to be the best you, and if that means learning something new, be like Nike – Just do it!
Racheal Hill received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tuskegee University. Her professional career has been in operations management. Racheal currently serves as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory. As a space enthusiast, she works with many nonprofit organizations and municipalities in Dallas and the surrounding areas to delivery programs to underserved youth that focus on space technologies and planetary science.