Post by Kelley Robinson, ScalaBridge founder
We had our first workshop in February of 2017 (in San Francisco), and since then have helped other chapters in 10 cities hold their own workshops. We had our second workshop in SF in August of 2017.
I have been a software developer for 4.5 years, mostly working in Scala at a variety of startups in San Francisco. Originally I went to school for Business, then learned how to program in a three month coding bootcamp about 5 years ago. Like all developers, most skills required for software development were learned outside of formal training. I took an interest in coding education because it was both formal and informal education that helped develop my career as a software developer.
In 2015, I gave my first conference talk at Scala Days in New York. I was one of 3 women speaking at the conference, and one of only a handful at the conference. There are also a lot of misconceptions that Scala is too hard for beginners, which is so not true! I’d heard great things about other *Bridges and knew one had to exist for Scala to help bridge these gaps.
The biggest challenge at the beginning was figuring out what to teach. We initially held some hack days with volunteers to help write the curriculum, but it became obvious that that would not scale. The (eventual) organizer of several ScalaBridge workshops, Noel Welsh, contacted me and donated the curriculum his consulting company had created for introductory Scala. It was a great way to involve the community and get up and running!
Finding teachers was one of the most fun parts of the process. I used my network (mostly through Twitter) to connect with other people in the Scala community that wanted to help out. Meeting other people that value education and inclusivity in the Scala community was really exciting for me, and a huge benefit for growing diversity in the community.
We had a new team of volunteers working together to create the first workshop in SF. We piloted some new Bridge Foundry inclusion training curriculum. This pre-workshop volunteer training helped the volunteer organizers and teachers be prepared to create a safe and effective learning environment at the workshop. We practiced how to initiate difficult conversation when needed and how to set the stage to increase likelihood of positive, respectful interactions.
Our first workshop was on a beautiful day, luckily our venue (Sharethrough) had a beautiful back deck so the snack breaks allowed people to get some fresh air, recharge, and get to know the other attendees.
We tried to streamline the installation as much as possible, but it was super useful to have the installfest so we could debug some of the corner cases that inevitably come up.
The BridgeTroll app was incredibly useful in helping split up groups by experience level. We had 4 rooms, so we used Harry Potter houses to divide the sections which was fun.
Since that first workshop, community volunteers have been supported by companies all over the world – welcoming people from diverse backgrounds at all levels of experience to new adventures in Scala.