Today’s spotlight is on Romina Polo. She’s the Chief Creative Officer at Code/Art, a Miami-Based organization on a mission to increase the number of girls in computer science by providing STEAM programming throughout the year. As a marketing professional in the tech sector, Romina wanted to enhance her knowledge of development to better serve her team and community.
After completing Ironhack’s 24 week remote part-time Web Development Bootcamp at Ironhack Miami, she now knows what it takes to be a developer and has the practical skills to continue to inspire young girls to build careers in tech. Check out his story here.
The Ironhack Experience
Hey Romina! Tell us about yourself and what life was like before enrolling in Ironhack.
My name’s Romina. I was born in Peru, raised in Miami and graduated with an Advertising/PR degree at UCF. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in different marketing and ad agency roles as well as working on my own for a couple of years, creating content and running social media accounts for small businesses. It wasn’t until I heard of the work Code/Art was doing that I decided to take on a full time position within this organization which is where I currently work as Chief Creative Officer. Code/Art is a non-profit on a mission to inspire girls in grades 3-12 to code by using art as a medium to do so.
I’ve always been passionate about building new things using creativity, design and innovation. Having a more clear understanding of how tech skills can open up a world of possibilities for creating new things was a great motivator for me to enroll in the web development course at Ironhack.
In 2022 you were one of our US scholarship recipients. How did the eMerge Diversity in Tech Scholarship help you and what was your experience with the enrollment process?
Working with the Ironhack enrollment team was a pretty straightforward process for me. The team walked me through the steps, answered the questions I had, and also helped me decide which course I should go with as I was somewhat undecided at first.
I’m grateful for the eMerge Diversity in Tech Scholarship because the truth is, I would have probably not enrolled in this course without the assistance. It’s great to see organizations (like eMerge and Ironhack) that are not just talking about wanting to see more diversity in tech but are actually creating direct pathways for someone like myself - a Latina mom (who may not be your idea of a programmer) to also participate.
What was your experience with the part-time Web Development Bootcamp?
It’s been almost 6 months since I completed the web dev course and I still feel like I was challenged in a way I don’t think I’ve felt before. It was of course hard at times but also really empowering when you finally know how to get your code to work. It really does make you feel like you can build anything.
I’ve pushed myself to stop being afraid of messing things up. When it comes to learning how to code you really do learn by testing things out and rewriting lines of code in different ways until something finally clicks. I realized that once in a while you’re going to break your code and have a meltdown, but that’s alright because there’s always a solution out there or a second pair of eyes to help you see things differently.
It’s great to see organizations (like eMerge and Ironhack) that are not just talking about wanting to see more diversity in tech but are actually creating direct pathways for someone like myself - a Latina mom (who may not be your idea of a programmer) to also participate.
With the gender gap and diversity being an on-going topic in the tech industry, share why you believe more women should be involved in tech.
It’s probably not a surprise to hear that women earn only 18% of CS degrees (a drop from 37% in the 80s) and hold just a quarter of tech jobs. Unfortunately, learning this stat alone can be part of the reason women don’t want to enter the space. Tech, however, is something that is woven into every industry - health, art, entertainment, government etc. and it’s not something that’s going to slow down.
I’d narrow it down to 4 reasons why the lack of diversity in tech is harmful for us all:
Bad for economy (we have thousands of unfilled computing jobs in the U.S. that could be filled by women)
Stifles innovation (fewer ideas at the table)
Lack of diversity leads to coded biases around gender and race
Missed opportunities for women (aka high-paying and flexible jobs)
A benefit of working in tech is that you can really be a part of something impactful and in order for us to come up with the best innovations, we need the best minds - from all genders, races and backgrounds.
I was greatly relieved when I realized there was another woman in my Ironhack cohort. We became each other’s support systems and cheerleaders, even though we didn’t know each other before taking the bootcamp. My hope is that seeing another woman in a CS course or dev team shouldn’t be this rare thing that we have to hold our breath for.
Creating more access for women, having more women in leadership roles, and being aware of biases and stereotypes are all ways that we can collectively help move the needle in the right direction. I’d simply say, if you’re a woman interested in working in tech but hesitant to take the first step (of joining Ironhack), just know that your contribution and presence in the space is needed way more than you may realize.
A big thanks to Romina for sharing her thoughts about what it’s like to be a woman in tech! We loved hearing about how she used the development skills she learned at Ironhack to continue empowering young girls at Code/Art.
You can connect with Romina on Linkedin here to follow her journey and learn more about Code/Art’s initiatives.
If you’d like to up skill to enhance your current skills and empower others to be in tech like Romina, we encourage you to check out our Full-Stack Web Development Bootcamp in addition to our UI/UX Design and Data Analytics bootcamps.
Also, don’t hesitate to apply for the 2023 eMerge Americas x Ironhack scholarship in partnership with the Miami Marlins. Submit your application by May 15th at 11:59PM EST for a chance to get a portion of your bootcamp tuition covered.
We look forward to seeing you in class!