We’ve officially been around since September 2011, or 15 months in total. In all, we’re one of eleven Girl Develop It chapters worldwide.  It’s exciting to see the organization grow, especially from the inside. We recently held a GDI retreat in NYC to discuss plans to standardize our material and process as well as grow to 40 (Yes, that’s FORTY) chapters by mid-2013.

Our Philly chapter specifically has held 35 Meetups including 18 classes (16 of them in 2012), 8 study groups, 2 happy hours (I didn’t realize the number was that low – must change that ASAP!), 5 party organizer meet-ups and one smashing party to celebrate our one-year anniversary (slideshow below).

Our member signup rate has been steadily growing as evidenced by the graph below. The blue line represents the number of members (we’re at 689 with the writing of this post) and the red line is the number of active members, that is, those who have visited the Meetup page or RSVP’d to an event. In the last year, we’ve grown by almost 225%!

GDI-members-growth

Besides the number of returning students, perhaps the most meaningful metric are the stories I hear from members of how our classes have benefit their personal and professional lives. Either how empowered they felt coding something on their own, tackling new responsibilities at work, completely switching positions, getting a new job or raise and so on. These keep the wheels turning and with that, I’m pumped to announce what we have coming up in 2013.

In short, we’ve grown to three organizers in total, we’re starting a Girl Develop It Scholarship Fund of which $900 (which will pay for 10 classes) has already been committed thanks to Bear and &Yet (a software development shop), we’re launching a Mentoring Program, a front-end developer track, programming track, and a mobile track. We’re also offering more advanced classes, introducing soft skill workshops, and collaborating with other tech groups.

Before I go more in-depth in each of those areas, I’d like to introduce two co-organizers who are helping make all of this happen. Corinne Warnshuis has been assisting since late Summer and Lisa Burgess just came on this month. I met both of them through our classes at Girl Develop It. Corinne is the newest Event Coordinator at Technically Philly and Lisa is the Marketing Manager at Uhuru Furniture in Center City. They’re great ladies who are passionate about our goal of increasing technical literacy among women – get to know them!

  • Scholarship Fund. Unemployed or can’t afford our already low-cost classes? Members can now apply to win a scholarship sponsored by a local company. And of course, if you’re part of a company that wants to extend their brand and provide opportunities for members to enrich their skill-set at the same time, you can also sponsor them easily using this form.
  • Mentoring Program. The biggest hurdles in learning how to code are not practicing enough and not having someone around when you’re stuck. That’s where the mentoring program comes in. Newbies will be matched with experienced developers and they will work together on a project for a non-profit that they can then add to their portfolio to show work experience. Sounds like a win-win situation, right?  We’re getting this geared up with the help of Chariot Solutions and the Scholar Program they currently have in the works. Stayed tuned for more information in January.
  • Front-end Developer Track. Want to improve your front-end skills, planning a career change or want to become a freelancer building sites? Starting in January, we’ll be offering eleven classes through May on everything you need to learn to do just that. Visit our Meetup for the classes we’re starting with. Included in the lineup so far are Intro to HTML, Intermediate HTML, Typography, SEO, Advanced CSS, JavaScript, UX, JQuery, API, Advanced JavaScript, Negotiation, and Photoshop/Illustrator.
  • Soft-skill Classes. As you probably noticed from the above bullet, we’re also expanding to offer soft-skill classes that will help you become a stronger developer. E.g. learning how to structure your site for SEO purposes, how to design better, how to create visually appearing graphics, and even how to negotiate (who doesn’t wants a raise?!).
  • Programming Track. Starting with a workshop on the basics of programming with Alice, we’ll move on to a Java course and then Android to segue into the mobile track below.
  • Mobile Track. Fueled by an idea from Corey Latislaw, this is also something we’re going to offer in March/April. We’ll be starting with Android and iOS. More information to come on that once we have our planning meeting in a few weeks.
  • Advanced Classes. We’re also going to offer courses for back-end developers such as PHP and Ruby. Look for those late Quarter 1/early Quarter 2.
  • More Collaboration. We partnered with GirlGeekDinners in one of our study groups and we want to do more of that in 2013. There are so many great tech groups in Philly, it only seems appropriate to work together. Look for more project nights, happy hours and maybe even hackathons.

It’s nice to look back and see how much we’ve accomplished and all the new things we’re about to embark on. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the Philly tech community, volunteers, teachers, members and media. Thank you for everything. Let’s rock it in 2013.

Questions? Leave a comment or contact us at philly@girldevelopit.com.

This post was written on November 18th.

Costa Rica sunset

I’m on my first leg of my flight to Costa Rica, what I’ve determined to be my first vacation in 10 years (and first international trip since I became a U.S. citizen). I’m thinking about how it’s been a long time since I didn’t have a startup to run. I can unplug and enjoy myself without a never ending todo list running through my head. I actually set an out of office message on my work and personal email, something I’ve never imagined doing.

Coincidentally, it’s been a year since the acquisition paperwork for 123LinkIt was signed. The anniversary of my first full-time job is approaching (less than 2 weeks). I have undergone many changes, both personally and professionally. As I’m reflecting, I marvel at the roller-coaster ride that’s transpired – from the initial excitement at having a dream come true to the gut-wrenching feelings as I let the company go to the postpartum depression of coming to face with the realization its path is now determined by others.

Acquisitions appear to be rosy looking in from the outside. We read the stories, congratulate the entrepreneurs, and envy them from a distance. I know because I was one of those people.

What you don’t hear about is what occurs next, the loss of identity and control, the broken promises you make yourself believe, and the surprising and varying levels of sadness.

My Company and I were one person. I’m not a mother but sometimes I imagine the acquisition is equivalent to selling a first born. Letting go has not been easy. I went through an identity crisis, trying to determine who I was now that I was no longer consumed by my Company. It’s as if I checked myself into a prison, got released, then walked out to be blinded by the bright sun.

I learned about the processes at NetLine and RevResponse, took on my role as Product Marketing Manager, and tackled some challenging projects within the Company. I no longer work or make decisions on my own. My responsibilities for 123LinkIt dwindled. I fell into a routine that was closer to a 9 to 5 schedule. I found myself with free time, a social life even. I started making new friends and dating more. As time went on, I spent less and less of it on 123LinkIt where I would miss even the most mundane tasks.

As always, time helps, allowing you to let things go. And I’m getting there. It helps that I have coworkers I love, a fun office environment and a boss that puts up with my never-ending flow of ideas and wild antics.

What can you take away from this post? All entrepreneurs become obsessive with their startups. I definitely overdid it. If I can go back in time, I would try to make more of a distinction between my personal & professional life.