Behind the Scenes of Django Girls Grand Rapids

How to Organize a Coding Workshop

Jace Browning
Jace Browning / May 21, 2018

Diversity helps teams be more effective, but there's still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to women working in tech. Django Girls is an international non-profit organization that aims to introduce more women to the field of programming. The organization provides all the training materials needed to run your own one-day workshop about programming in Python and Django. Django Girls events are free for attendees—all they need is a laptop.

Want to bring Django Girls to your city or organize your own workshop? Here are the best practices we’ve found after two years of running these events in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Our four-person organizing team began planning for our yearly event several months before the March 2018 workshop. We had to plan for sponsors, volunteer registration, event space, food, and swag. There are a lot of details to take care of, but we'll walk you through the main ones.

Finding Sponsors

Django Girls Grand Rapids sponsors

We estimated that we would need to raise approximately $3,000 to cover food and shirts for attendees, coaches, and organizers (60 people). Our organizing team was lucky enough to have a network of generous companies to reach out to for funding. Zapier stepped up to be a sponsor for the second year in a row!

Some sponsors gave in-kind donations of event space, photography, logos, and stickers while others provided us the necessary funds to buy supplies, food, and shirts for all workshop attendees.

Meeting Your Coaches

attendees at the Django Girls Grand Rapids event

We found that it’s best to sit down with your workshop’s coaches one week before the event to review the coaching manual and Code of Conduct. We recruited 14 coaches, so that we could ensure we had one coach for every 2-3 attendees. At Django Girls events, it’s recommended to have one or two “meta coaches” to help out—no one is expected to be an expert!

Finding a Venue

coworking space

Find a venue with a variety of working spaces and plenty of comfortable spaces to relax. Co-working spaces are ideal for this. Our venue sponsor, Start Garden, let us use their co-working space to set up tables for each workshop team.

coworking space
Another separate space for our workshop in the co-working space

Running the Event

Offer lots of room to write. This gives you lots of room to think and collaborate as a group. Our venue let us write on their dry-erase walls and we also covered our workspaces with paper to write on:

whiteboard

Make sure to offer many food choices to cater to all dietary needs and preferences. Per-person, we budgeted $5 for a light dinner on Friday, $10 for a full catered lunch on Saturday, and $8 for snacks/drinks throughout. We went with mediterranean for our large catered meal:

event planning meal

Social media

Be social! To keep up the energy during the event and thank our sponsors, we shared lots of photos, selfies, and other exciting moments. Using Zapier’s integrations, we created a Zap to automatically post our Tweets to our Facebook page for the event.

Build your Own

Django Girls Grand Rapids was a great success! We introduced nearly 40 women to the amazing world of Python and Django. Go host your own workshop!

Photo of Grace Garey

“If we didn't get these ongoing notifications through Zapier, we’d miss important information on how patient funding is going. It's saved us so much time.”

Grace Garey, co-founder of Watsi

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