On Wednesdays in the SheNomads Slack channel, we host a series of AMAs (Ask Me Anythings).

​This week, Sprout Social engineer Lorena Mesa dropped knowledge ranging from career choices to speaking at conferences. Read on to find out three things we learned from Lorena.

Even in the land of politics, it pays to know how to code.

“​Back in 2008, I interned on the Obama for America Latino Vote team. As an undergrad, I double majored in political science and math, so I was always interested in data and using math to solve policy-minded questions.

However at OFA (Obama for America) that was the first time I was working with such a vast data set that I simply could not do it eloquently in Excel. I had to pick something else up.

OFA was revolutionary in its use of data, namely data science to do predictive modeling for probability of victory analysis, GOTV campaigns, etc. As the sole Latino Vote staffer in HQ, I was responsible for finding possible voters to target, so I started learning SQL and Python.
Data cleaning, doing some work to find key names, issues, demographics that matched our profiles. I never had really ‘coded’ before, and even then in 2008, my code was rough.”

“So needless to say my political work introduced me to coding as a tool to automate and scale the outreach work I did.”

It’s never too soon to apply to conferences.

When asked if a recent college grad was too inexperienced to speak at a conference, Lorena replied:
“NO!
NEVER!
APPLY TO CODE NEWBIE CONF!
Not that you are a newbie of course.
CFP here –> http://codelandconf.com/”

If writing code is a career change for you, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

​​”I think that feeling of ‘I’m not supposed to be here’ is common, namely for career changers. I’ve always been very career-minded, so it felt somewhat humbling to be back as the ‘lowest’ on the totem pole so to speak.

I also think there’s truth in how our identities intersect with our feelings and outlook.

Community support I find instrumental, mentoring. Something like what @latoya has been providing here is excellent.

I can recommend coding specific mailing lists too – Systers and DevChix are great.”
Don’t feel left out… join us for next weeks session!

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