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Me, Myself, as Mommy: Tech-Moms presents brand-new opportunity for this ‘old dog’

By Meg Sanders - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 2, 2022

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Meg Sanders

Depending on a plethora of factors — did I eat pizza after 7 p.m., drink too much booze, am I wearing my good underwear and did I get enough sleep — I may feel like an old dog. The scale in which I feel young or old is very delicate and can be tipped with something as simple as muscle twinge in my lower back. Because of this new-dog-old-dog scale, I can be extremely unpredictable on what I’m willing to try. Last week, I actually thought I was in good enough shape to go skiing after a 25-year hiatus. The scale quickly flip-flopped after an hour of Flowrider in Ogden wherein I was never more grateful to fall into a pool of tepid water. This is the best type of camouflage for a woman who birthed three humans. This old dog will forgo a skiing rebirth, instead opting for a double chocolate cookie dusted with powdered sugar one can find in the lodge at Snowbasin as she waits for her loved ones to finish hurling themselves down a mountain.

My bravery for new things has waned some, particularly in the physical realm, but I find myself craving more exercise in my intellectual pursuits. Shockingly, social media can no longer give me the fix it once did — at least, I now recognize it feeds frustration instead of fulfillment. Ironically, it was through social media I discovered my next pursuit, my next step to feeling like a new dog. Tech-Moms is a program offered at Weber State, among a few other locations, that offers women just like me a chance to up our game, or in my case, get back in it.

Ogden and surrounding Weber County are getting a deluge of business from the tech industry. Many may not be aware, but a pivotal piece in the industry, Catalyst Campus, is making a home right in the heart of Ogden. Add the fact Northrop Grumman is working to fill its new Roy campus with hundreds of jobs while it designs, tests and hopes to launch the Sentinel (GBSD), tech is where the jobs are, and I can barely plug in the toaster. This is where Tech-Moms comes into use.

This relatively new nonprofit gives women who don’t have a strong background in coding a chance to dip their toe in the water, to build a solid base in the new language of the world. It’s a nine-week course in HTML, JavaScript and CSS, basically the building blocks of the internet. My teenager is learning this in eighth grade, a clear indication that my tech education of basic Excel is left in the dust.

Tech-Moms is taking applications for their winter 2023 session and I decided on a new-dog whim I would throw my hat into the coding ring. The process was painless but started with a test on basic computer skills. My ego told me I would ace this quiz, no problem, but the reality is I got a “touch pad” confused with a “touch screen,” as well as a few other operational questions. I scored an 85.7%, Tech-Moms asks for an 85%. Clearly, they have their work cut out for them.

A week later, I was assigned an interview time with one of the members of Tech-Moms. In classic Zoom form, I tugged on my best sweater paired with my most raggedy sweatpants. Next to my laptop I had my pen and paper at the ready, not to take notes, but at least look like I was a very serious contender for the program. Moments later, a woman popped up on the screen who was about my age, Zooming from a room in her house, who just like me, was back to working outside the home after years of laundry serfdom. From her I learned that Tech-Moms is more than just a class on various codes; students also gain a community of women who understand what it’s like to be on a sliding scale of feeling outdated and useless, now looking to push ourselves to feeling relevant once again.

Mikel Blake, co-founder and executive director of Tech-Moms, said many women pass up tech-related jobs not because of the skills required, but a lack of feeling that they belong in the industry. With her foresight, she was able to string together a course that builds the skills, belonging and community all in nine weeks. Before you say this column is an attempt to grease the wheels, I learned in my interview that Tech-Moms takes any woman willing to make the time to attend classes. The cost is $400, although a scholarship program is available for those who can’t make that work in the family budget. By the end of the course, each student will present a website she built using the different coding. From that point, Blake has said in an interview with EDCUtah, “Once a Tech-Mom, always a Tech-Mom.”

With all my questions answered, my passing computer assessment score and an excitement to learn something new, the only thing holding me back is the realization I will have to wear real pants and brush my hair and teeth so I can enjoy the presence of other people on a Saturday morning. While I haven’t officially clicked the “confirm your spot” button, it’s empowering to know there’s a group of women working to keep us all in the game, to give opportunity when many of us thought we were fresh out.

Skiing isn’t in my future, neither is another round of indoor surfing, and there’s always a chance I’ll gorge myself on pizza before a night of restless leg syndrome, but this old dog is still ready to learn a few new tricks. Thanks to a nine-week course of Tech-Moms, I could even make a website dedicated to all my new skills.

Meg Sanders worked in broadcast journalism for over a decade but has since turned her life around to stay closer to home in Ogden. Her three children keep her indentured as a taxi driver, stylist and sanitation worker. In her free time, she likes to read, write, lift weights and go to concerts with her husband of 17 years.

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