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Renata's blog

Hello, world!

~ 4 min read

Renata's picture, a white woman profile. She touches her chin with her left hand fingertips

About me

Hello, world! For those who are meeting me for the first time, I am a 31 year old History teacher from Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Some people might know me from the Python community, because I have been leading PyLadies Porto Alegre and helping organize Django Girls workshops in my state since 2016. If you don't, that's okay. Either way, it's nice to have you here.

Ever since I learned about Rails Girls Summer of Code, during the International Free Software Forum - FISL 16, I have been wanting to get into a tech internship program. Google Summer of Code made into my radar as well, but I didn't really feel like I knew enough to try and get into those programs... until I found Outreachy. From their site:

Outreachy is an organization that provides three-month internships for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in tech. Interns work remotely with mentors from Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities on projects ranging from programming, user experience, documentation, illustration and graphical design, to data science.

There were many good projects to choose from on this round, a lot of them with few requirements - and most with requirements that I believed I could fullfill, such as some knowledge of HTML, CSS, Python or Django.

I ought to say that I am not an expert in any of those. And, since you're reading this, I'm going to be completely honest. Coding is hard. Coding is hard to learn, it takes a lot of studying and a lot of practice. Even though I have been messing around computers pretty much since I was a kid, because I was a girl lucky enough to have a father who owned a computer store, I hadn't began learning how to program until mid-2015 - and I am still learning.

I think I became such an autodidact because I had to (and, of course, because I was given the conditions to be, such as having spare time to study when I wasn't at school). I had to get any and all information from my surroundings and turn into knowledge that I could use to achieve my goals. In a time when I could only get new computer games through a CD-ROM and the computer I was allowed to use didn't have a CD-ROM drive, I had to try and learn how to open a computer cabinet and connect/disconnect hardware properly, so I could use my brother's CD-ROM drive on the computer I was allowed to and install the games without anyone noticing. When, back in 1998, I couldn't connect to the internet because the computer I was allowed to use didn't have a modem, I had to learn about networks to figure out how to do it from my brother's computer on the LAN (local network).

I would go to the community public library and read books and any tech magazines I could get my hands into (libraries didn't usually have computers to be used by the public back then). It was about 2002 when I learned how to create HTML sites by studying at the source code from pages I had saved to read offline in one of the very, very few times I was allowed to access the internet and browse the web. Of course, the site I created back then never saw the light of the day, because I didn't have really have internet access at home.

So, how come it is that only now, 14 years later, I am trying to get into tech?

Because when I finished high school in 2003, I was still a minor and my family didn't allow me to go to Vocational School and take an IT course. (Never mind that my own oldest brother had graduated in IT and working with for almost a decade.)

I ended up going to study... teacher training in History as an undergrad course.

A lot has happened since then. I took the exam to become a public school teacher and more than two years had passed without being called to work. I spent 3 years in odd-jobs that paid barely enough to pay rent (and, sometimes, not even that).

Since the IT is the new thing and all jobs are in IT, finally, finally it seemed okay for me to take that Vocational School training in a public school - and so I did.

I gotta say, I thought that while I studied, I would be able to get some sort of job or internship to help with my learning. After all, I had seen it easily happening with people I met before getting into the course. And by "people", of course, I mean white men. For me, it took a whole year of searching, trying and interviewing for me to get an internship related to the field - tech support in a school computer lab, running GNU/Linux. And, in that very same week, I was hired as a public school teacher.

There is a lot more... actually, there is so much more to this story, but I think I have told enough for now. Enough to know where I came from and who I am, as of now. I hope you stick around. I am bound to write here every two weeks, so I guess I will see you then! o/

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