It was five months ago that Jack Giesen came out to our very first Ladies Learning Code Intro to WordPress workshop. She was a learner then, but in the next couple weeks she’ll be an instructor. When she’s not busy getting ready to teach her first workshop, Jack also volunteers as the content manager for the Chic Geek. We’re so lucky to have her and I wanted you, our Chic Geeks, to have the opportunity to get to know Jack too. I sat down with Jack to chat with her about the upcoming workshop.
What’s your experience with WordPress?
I’ve used WordPress to run my own personal website for a couple of years now, but June’s workshop gave me enough of a kick to start digging into what makes the platform tick. Until that point, I’d been mostly happy to use a theme that I bought to build and customize my website. But once I started digging into the ways that you can customize themes through the PHP files, I realized that it’s a lot easier to just start from scratch.
I’m working on a couple of built-from-scratch WordPress sites right now, and they should be ready by the time our November WordPress class rolls around.
What spurred you to take the leap from learner to instructor?
It probably helps if you know that I was mistaken for one of the mentors during that first WordPress class. I had a habit of helping other learners take those first terrifying steps into theme-tweaking instead of focusing on my own project. So when I signed on to volunteer for the Chic Geek, mentoring for the fall HTML/CSS and Photoshop classes seemed like a natural progression.
The Chic Geek’s goal of educating and empowering women with skills in technology really resonated with me, and being part of that environment helped me to get back into experimenting with web design and development. For the last couple of years, I had been mostly focused on my role as a marketer and communicator, writing the content you see online and occasionally tweaking email newsletters and such. I finally got back into the basics, building sites from the ground up and teaching myself some of the newer trends in web development like responsive web design, of which I am an unapologetic convert.
When the call for an instructor for the WordPress workshop came out in October, again, it seemed like a natural progression.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I’d like to start by showing off some of the amazing things that WordPress can do. And then actually start from the very beginning, explaining concepts and technical terms as we go. I guess you could summarize my teaching style as “Learn to do by doing” but then, that’s very much in line with Ladies Learning Code courses in general. I hope that our learners get to have as much fun with WordPress as I have!
Are you nervous about teaching at all?
So nervous. I’m not nervous about the public speaking component—I’ve been speaking in front of big groups since childhood—but this is my first time officially teaching a class this size. Which has several hours of content that I’m currently tweaking for a two-day course. I just hope all of the electronics function correctly, the day of.
What concept are you most excited to teach?
Probably “The Loop,” which is just the way that WordPress grabs the posts that you’ve made and displays them on a page. The detailed explanation is a little jargon-y, but it was really an “Aha” moment for me when I finally got it. And getting it is absolutely vital for building WordPress themes.
Why is WordPress such a valuable skill to learn?
It’s very do-it-yourself, which means you’ll never be stuck with a catastrophic typo on your company’s website just because your web designer is sick. WordPress is a content management system: that means you can plug in blog posts, edit pages and basically manage your entire website without touching the design.
You can still play with the design of course—we’ll be doing a lot of that during our upcoming class—but you only have to deal with it when you want to. When you just want to upload a new blog post, WordPress will let you do that without any fuss.
The Chic Geek and Ladies Learning Code are both non-profit organizations. We run off volunteer power and passion. Sometimes it’s a lot of work, and I ask myself, “Why are we doing this?!” Stories, like Jack’s, remind me of the importance of what we’re doing. We’re building a women-friendly tech and startup community. We’re creating safe and supportive opportunities for women to take on leadership roles, like Jack has through this Ladies Learning Code workshops. We’re building meaningful relationships and networks of amazing women through our volunteerism and community events. We are making a difference.
Sorry, I just ran with that last sentence and things got a little cheesy. :)
Written by Kylie Toh
Kylie Started the Chic Geek because she wanted to see more women celebrate technology and discover their inner nerd. With a background in public relations and branding, and a passion for startups, Kylie guides the strategic vision of the Chic Geek. Connect with Kylie on Twitter