Garima was like any other middle school kid who thought sitting at a computer and typing stuff would be boring.

But now she is a rising star at Yale!

Garima never tried coding until she was in sophomore year of high school. But when she reflects back on her high school years, she feels she should have started learning to code much earlier!

As a mentor at the Girls Who Code chapter in Westwood, Garima wants kids to understand that coding is actually fun and rewarding too.’

Read about Garima’s journey through learning to code, in her own words.

What got you interested in coding?

For a long time, I thought I would never like to code. So, I never tried it. My very first exposure to coding was and Intro to HTML/CSS class in summer 2013 that I took with Girl Develop It in Austin. I enjoyed that, which was surprising to me at the time. That year, which was my sophomore year of high school, I took AP Computer Science on a whim and that hooked me on to coding.

Why did you learn to code?

I began learning in 10th grade when I took AP Computer Science. After that, I was so interested in coding that I learned more languages and skills. The reason I am so interested in coding is the logical problem solving and creativity involved in coding a project.

You started the very successful Round Rock CoderDojo and also the Girls Who Code chapter in Westwood. How did you come up with that idea and what motivated you to get it started?

Growing up, I never imagined that I would get interested in coding. The thought of sitting at a computer “typing stuff” bored me. After I became interested in coding, I realized that negative stereotypes about coding had kept me from discovering its appeal earlier in my life. I knew that girls seem to think coding is boring, intimidating, or nerdy. Girls Who Code gave me the perfect opportunity to change that mindset and share my passion for programming with other girls.

I had also noticed that despite being such huge consumers of technology, the youth at large (especially young girls) is still not motivated to becoming creators of it. I wanted to educate kids and their parents and show them that coding can be fun and rewarding. The CoderDojo philosophy of getting the community all together and having them learn by doing, teaching and sharing appealed to me.

How did learning to code help you get into Yale? Is there anything about coding or the experience of starting all of these coding organizations helpful in that context?

I think the leadership skills and mentoring skills that I gained through running both the Girls Who Code Club and CoderDojo Round Rock were helpful to get into Yale. However, it is impossible to know how or why I actually got into Yale, as that information is never disclosed to us.

What is the scene at Yale with respect to coding? Is coding and CS infused into a variety of disciplines?

Computer science is a separate discipline and major at Yale. However, there are also majors that incorporate coding as part of their requirements.

When is the right age to start learning to code?

There is no right age! I started coding at what many would consider a late age, but that does not prevent me from pursuing a career in the field. Anyone can learn to code and there are now so many online resources for anyone who wants to learn.

What advice would you give for kids who are grappling with coding, particularly once they go beyond the basics?

Once the basics of coding have been mastered, there are no more rules to learn that should be followed. The best way to continue developing your coding skills is to build projects. Start with small projects, maybe a simple interface. Also, don’t be afraid to use Google, everyone does it.