While studying information technology and software development at Capella University, Elyse Segebart, of Perry, founded an online group called “Moms in Tech.” Her reason was simple. “I didn’t know any developers, and I needed to ask questions,” she said.
The group, which operates on the communication platform Slack, has grown to more than 250 members over the past year and a half, including people from Germany and the United Kingdom.
Joining the group is free, and Segebart makes sure that every member feels welcome. She greets each person who joins using the “introductions” channel — Slack has different “channels” that sort conversations by topic — and connects newbies to existing members with similar interests.
“That way, they feel like they know someone in the group right away,” she said.
The chat channels range from tech-specific topics, like development help and job postings, to life topics, like “momming” and recipes. Members can use the chat any time, and there also are scheduled virtual events when members talk about specific topics. Through one of those events, Segebart expanded her knowledge about open-sourcing, which is when a company releases its proprietary code so anyone can use it to practice coding or to create something new.
Anyone who’s a mom in tech can join the group, regardless of their level of experience or expertise.
“Even if you’re just thinking about getting into tech, you can join,” Segebart said. Having members with a wide variety of experience means there’s almost always someone who can answer questions, from the simple to the complex. It also means members seamlessly switch back and forth from mentor to mentee, depending on the topic. “We all mentor and we all ask questions,” she said.
Segebart says anyone can start a similar group, and running the group has been fairly simple. To get the word out, she posted about it on Twitter, and people started organically sharing the link. As the group continues to grow, she’s considering adding moderators who can take over some of her duties, but she hasn’t had to devote a lot of time to managing it just yet. “Honestly, it hasn’t been very challenging. The group tends to be self-regulating,” she said.
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From not knowing anyone in software development to having 250 knowledgeable contacts, starting an online community has been a huge success for Segebart.
“There are so many people with different areas of expertise providing valuable information,” she said.
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