The festival of WordPress
January 22, 2021

This is an archive of the January 2021 event

Welcome to the Community and Your New Career

WordPress is software and a whole community of people. As a community, we have the opportunity to empower others in their journey. Courtney has instructed multiple high school programs as well as coaching adult career changers impacted by Covid-19 on their journey to careers that use WordPress. Courtney will share the resources used while teaching and how she is bridging the connection between developing plugins and themes with WordPress to the prospective employers and other support systems in the community.

Time: 7:00pm UTC
Region: Americas
Stage: Global Stage

Hey WordFest.

I’m Courtney Robertson.

I would like you to help me welcome the

code differently return ready students.

These students participated in our

first ever adult oriented we’re

pressed development bootcamp.

This was at no cost to participants

because most of our funding

came through the cares act.

As such participants got to

learn how to use HTML, CSS,

JavaScript, and lots of WordPress.

We’re just beginning to dive into PHP

at this time, but you may have seen

some of these students popping up at

meetups through various informal Slack

systems and other places during our time

together, I’ve been ensuring that they

know where to turn, to find all of you.

Great folks through various

social media outlets as well.

And sharing all the news that

you have with my students.

So without any further ado, it’s my

honor to introduce you to my students.

I hope that you’re inspired by what

they share, and I hope that they

are inspired by what you’ve shared

throughout this time together.

Hey, uh, my name is Shelley.

Um, before this bootcamp, I worked in

the banking industry for about 10 years

until I left to care for a family member.

Post-surgery, uh, I actually became

interested in coding several years ago

when I was, you know, kind of convinced

to coauthor a beauty blog and realized I

cared more about designing the site than

I did writing the content for the site.

Um, I’ve learned a lot, you know, since

joining this bootcamp, but I would say,

um, one of the things that I’ve had the

most fun learning about was actually, uh,

e-commerce and creating a mock storefront

for my website and actually learning

about unit testing and JavaScript.

Um, I’ve also learned that there’s

a huge community in the tech world,

and everyone’s here to help you

learn and grow and just here to

help you become a better coder.

And I hope to use all the skills

that I’ve learned to get a job

as a front end developer and help

design websites for my family.


My name is Caitlin Smith prior to COVID.

I was mentor for you through the

year and working with children.

I chose to be a part of the bootcamp

because I thought it would be a

great opportunity to not only rebate

myself, but to also provide resources

for women who have been stalked

and harassed after this bootcamp,

I hope to become a software design.

I mean, to state about these.


My name is Norma Ortiz before COVID.

I was in the middle of a job search

while volunteering as an event

planner and web administrator for a

nonprofit organization and studying

a Cisco association associates

certification during quarantine, I

was homeschooling my son and teaching

myself HTML, Java, and Java script.

When the opportunity to participate in

the return ready program became available.

Similar to everyone here.

I chose JavaScript boot camp to learn

how to cope and gain the necessary

skills to transition into my next career.

As a software engineer, where

I hope to someday develop and

contribute to technology that will

assist special needs individuals

live independently as possible.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how

we’ve been able to learn virtually

through zoom and still develop

the collaborative social aspect

of being in a classroom setting.

After the program, I look forward

to starting a new career with

the knowledge and skills that

I’ve acquired echo differently.

Thank you.

My name is Lucas Kimanzi.

Um, my background is in, uh,

it support and that pre COVID.

I was, uh, transitioning

to entrepreneurship.

Uh, with my focus, being, helping small

businesses, uh, get an online presence,

uh, which is more important now than ever.

Um, I am brought in this class to

expand my knowledge in, uh, coding.

I’ve had to rely on, uh, um, other

quarters and, um, a lot of our contractors

to do my work and, uh, uh, this class,

um, will help me gain my independence.

And be able to do that by myself.

I have enjoyed and appreciate that.

I get the instruction on patients

from instructors and I fell in

love with campus in this class.

And, um, uh, everything

uh, is working well.

Uh, even though it’s been done, uh, like

mostly I look forward to using my newly,

uh, quiet skills for my independence.

Thank you before COVID.

Um, I began my professional career,

um, as electronics technician,

and also I have, uh, education

and information system security.

And also, um, I spent about 20

years in leadership roles, um, in

the telecommunications industry,

performing operations management

and production management.

Then during the downfall of the

economy, um, I found myself in unstable

environments and looking to change

careers, um, and actually bridged the

gap and move into software development.

Um, so I joined code differently.

Um, what I found there is that.

Um, the training and the comradery

of everyone there has been a joy.

Um, it’s helped me learn, um, quickly

and also has given me the ability to, um,

learn about the different opportunities

available in software development.

Um, so what I hope to do is to

move forward to my second career

and software development and

become a software developer.

Thank you.

Hello, my name is Victoria

QANQIO previously before COVID.

I was working as a licensed

private investigator.

Um, but I wasn’t feeling a hundred

percent fulfilled by my job.

Um, I found out about this program and I

decided to join because, um, I’ve always

had an interest in web development.

Ever since, um, middle school,

I went to a performing arts

school and we use geo cities for.

My entire seventh grade, eighth

grade year, um, to create

websites and stuff like that.

And I’ve had a really

strong interest in it.

Um, I kind of detoured along the way,

um, but I found my way back and I’m

glad that I did, because with this

program, I’ve learned that I have.

Uh, love for JavaScripts,

creating functions, loops,

um, unit testing, all of that.

Um, and I realized that I would thoroughly

enjoy a job in Java script after I’m done.

So that is my end game.

Thank you.

Hey, miss Dolores Lockett.

Um, what I was doing before

COVID I was, um, doing daycare

and teaching in the schools.

And, uh, doing a lot of

volunteer, um, activities.

Um, when I, um, came to, uh, coat

differently, um, I basically was returning

to, uh, cope, uh, develop mint and,

um, development had been my, uh, past

profession and, um, I needed a way to.

Um, get back into the field of, um,

software development and, uh, that’s why

I decided to, um, join Cote differently.

And, um, what I expect to do after

works is apply my knowledge, that,

and the things that I’ve learned to,

um, good, the field that I was in.

And also the volunteer

activities that I was doing.

My name is Chris Louis prior to COVID.

I was a professional musician running

a wedding and private party band.

Uh, COVID has currently

shut that industry down.

Um, so I started looking at

potential career changes and the

opportunity to join code differently.

Uh, came and I’m learning

front end web development.

I’ve enjoyed learning HTML, CSS, and

JavaScript, and how those languages

work with each other to create websites.

And I hope to complete my career

change by gaining employment

as a front end, but developer.

I everybody, my name is

Adam Crow prior to COVID.

I was employed as a field investigations

manager for a private investigative

agency in Wilmington, Delaware.

Um, I was also in the process

of completing my MBA with

a concentration in finance.

I chose code differently because of

the increasing need and willingness

for companies to hire software

engineers through alternative talent

networks, such as coding differently.

Um, I enjoyed learning

JavaScript loops and functions.

Um, through this program, I hope to

obtain employment as a software developer.

Hello, my name is Michael.

Uh, before this program, I was a

coordinator at a call center, uh,

responsible for installing alarm

systems for new customers and handling

the sales reps and the technicians.

Uh, I had been programming

for about a year.

So when I found out about the

program, it just seemed too perfect.

I was really excited about it.

Um, and it, it really is perfect.

Like there’s.

I can’t really say there’s any one

thing I enjoy more than anything else.

I think I just, I just love everything.

I love all of the content.

Something that really surprised

me about it was that, uh, all the

teachers and all the teachers aides

are really personable, really friendly.

No one gives off this vibe, like

they’re better than you or anything.

They just want to see you succeed.

Um, So that’s really cool.

And what I hope to do after is just

take my knowledge and keep going.

Even after the bootcamp ends.

Uh, it does.

It’s not going to end for me.

Um, and hopefully you get a

full stack position and just

keep improving my skills.

Hello, my name is vine

Kendrick ginyard before COVID.

I was doing ministry in North Carolina,

too, which I yet do all just via zoom.

Uh, in addition to that, I am a

photographer and a musician and I chose

called differently because I believe

in some format that code definitely

walks parallel with photography and.

Music, what I’ve enjoyed most is

the camaraderie with the students

and the teachers, the positive

energy and the support from others.

I was very surprised, however, that

I was able to understand JavaScript a

skill that appears to be intimidating

and frustrating, but afterwards, a plan

to incorporate those skills that I’ve

learned with photography and music, and

hopefully become a software engineer.


Hi everyone.

My name is Gregory Lowe.

Uh, prior to COVID I was tending

bar and doing freelance audio work,

um, with COVID-19 happening both.

So those jobs kind of stopped

simultaneously, uh, which gave me

time to kind of think about where

I wanted to transition my life

towards, or maybe things I’ve been

putting off, which was coding.

Um, I chose code differently

because of the amazing

opportunity to acquire a skill.

Without the financial burden of maybe

returning to school or joining a different

bootcamp, which is thanks to the cares

act who funded our program, uh, what I’ve

learned or what I’ve enjoyed most about.

Uh, the program is specifically

learning JavaScript.

I’ve definitely found a knack for.

It’s like a type of code.

I like to write in terms of a JavaScript.

So that’s been my favorite so far.

I’m kind of similar to everyone else.

The community has been

something that surprised me.

The most.

Everyone is here for each other.

That’s from top to bottom

from the founders all the way

down to your fellow students.

Everybody is supportive and

even outside, um, agencies and

people are very supportive.

So it’s just been great to have a

sense of community while we’re all.

It’s a bit isolated.

Um, what I hope to do after is help my

other friends who freelance build their

websites or apps, and then eventually also

obtain a job as a full stack developer.

Thank you.

Hello, my name is grant

Eldridge and I’m okay.

Prior to a COVID.

I was a clinical research coordinator,

um, focused on children’s, uh, drug

studies and also cancer, um, studies.

Um, I have a background though in, uh,

entrepreneurship graphic design, um,

photography, visual design, and, uh,

what I think will ultimately ultimately

led me here was that, um, there was

a time where I, uh, tried to get a

graphic design job and, um, It became

down to between me and one other person.

And, uh, they told me that they couldn’t

get me the job because I couldn’t, I

wasn’t a, I didn’t design websites.

And I was like, you know what?

I saw, I’ve never let

that happen to me again.

So once that opportunity presented

itself, I was like, you know what?

This is the perfect time

to add to that skillset.

And, um, What I really want to

do is, you know, either do front

end development or UI UX design.

So I’m, that’s why I’m here

and I’m enjoying the ride.

Thank you.

All right.

Hi, my name is tagine boon.

And before COVID I was a

financial services manager.

Um, I’ve always wanted to

get into the tech industry.

So when I came across this bootcamp,

it was the perfect opportunity for me

to learn new skills that will allow

me to transfer into the tech industry.

Um, what I like most about the bootcamp?

One is that the price.

Was great free.

And also that we are pretty

much like a big family.

Everybody helps each other.

And it’s great to have that support when

you’re learning a new skill like this.

Um, and after this bootcamp, I

hope to become a software engineer.

Hello, my name is Hasina.

Uh, for Colin, I was an

afterschool care teacher.

Um, I’ve always loved so many

different subjects that coming onto

this program, I decided to apply

and explore the tech, uh, computer

programming software development field.


JavaScript is so interesting.

Just being able to create

a website from scratch.

It’s so much fun, but

WordPress is so user friendly.

You get similar results, but without

having to have any priests, like you’ll

have preset code, which is really

great because you don’t need any prior

knowledge of coding and web development

to be able to create a full wall.

I think that’s amazing.

I really hope to be able to find a

position that I will love to wake

up in the morning and go to work.

Uh, I’m an aspiring full stack

engineer before coronavirus.

I was just working at restaurants,

you know, trying to figure

out what I wanted to do.

And then I stumbled upon Java

script, which I ended up loving.

Um, I even loved just building out

a calculator, which is one of the

main projects I’ve been working on.

And after this, I hope to find a job

and at least front end development

and continue down the path of

becoming a full stack engineer.

We are the sum total of our experiences.

Those experiences be they

positive or negative.

Make us the person we are at any given

point in our lives and like a flowing

river, those same experiences and those

yet to come, continue to influence and

reshape the person we are and the person

we become, none of us are the same as we

were yesterday, nor will we be tomorrow.

This quote means a whole lot to me.

You see, it explains a little bit

about how I got here and also how my

students got here this past summer, I

was asked to interview for the position.

It could different to teach WordPress

and immediately I knew this was

exactly the place that I wanted

to be, especially in this moment.

And in this time, My background

is that I’m a high school, former

business education teacher.

I taught school at Scotland

school for veterans children.

I was the business ed instructor, and

I taught HTML and CSS, um, as well as

other career development related things.

During that time I found open source.

I needed a way to collect

my students’ assignments.

So that led me to finding Moodle

and running my own Moodle server.

And I thought, Oh, I

might want a website too.

So I installed Joomla.

Soon after that, somebody

introduced me to WordPress.

This would have been around two, five,

and as I was reading, I discovered the

democratizing publishing statements

and what the four freedoms are that

were afforded by using open source.

And we’re pressing particular.

I strongly believe that all people

should be able to have a voice.

And, uh, what to support that initiative.

So as I got started teaching a few

side projects came along and I was

asked to install the revolution theme

on somebody’s website, add a little

bit of PHP code and register a sidebar

to include a widget at that time that

wasn’t generally possible in WordPress.

When that opportunity came my way.

So it caused me to start learning a bit

about PHP and databases beyond using, say,

Microsoft access in my class a little bit.

After that, I found a word campus

happening where kit mid Atlantic and

Neil dash was our keynote speaker.

At that one.

I wanted to go to this event.

But I didn’t register or find out

about it, frankly in time I emailed

the organizer, Aaron Brazelle

and asked if there was anything

that I could do to participate.

And he said, yes, he needed

people to register guests.

As they came in immediately, I jumped

in as a contributor into the WordPress

project because I was contributing through

a word camp that this would have been

before the foundation existed, even.

I went onto more meetups and word camps.

I attended one in New York in 2009

and got to meet Matt in the hallway

back when things were a bit smaller,

that was still a really big event,

but it was a bit smaller and easier

to speak with people like that.

And later that year, I had left

the classroom and wanted to pursue

working with clients more directly.

I came across GF waiting member.

And during that time we were,

one of the earliest were press

instructional programs online.

We taught were pressed as well as social

media marketing for small business owners.

Primarily they were getting their

websites and their online presence set up.

And so that was a lot of fun.

I moved into handling more client work

myself and discovered WP elevation, WP

elevation did a fantastic job at helping

me recognize the business administration

portion of working with website

development, as well as that onboarding

process and a lot of the common tips

and tools that we might need as we’re

gathering content from our clients.

By 2014.

I was at yet another word

camp event in New York.

And in this one was a contributor day.

So a day for everybody to come and see

how we’re pressed itself gets made.

I decided to attend that and

there were a lot of different

tables set up in one corner.

There were these people talking

about the rest API and what that

was going to allow us to do.

And the two tables that seemed

interesting to me were marketing

and training to this day.

I get to do a lot with

both of those teams.

I was torn because you see,

as a business teacher, both of

those seem to right up my alley.

I gravitated over towards

the training team and we made

lesson plans that you could find today.

I absolutely loved my time

with the training team.

I got to work with the likes

of Courtney O’Callahan Julie.


Tracy Laveck and Beth Soderberg.

Thank you ladies for your early

work with the training team.

And also thank you, Jesse and Teton

for the work that you continued

to do with the training team.

By 2015, I was at another word camp.

This one was the first word camp us.

Thank you all.

For those of you that

came and participated.

At this point, I had to take some time out

from the WordPress community in my journey

while I absolutely loved all of these

experiences and wholeheartedly believed

in the work that we were doing personally,

I had just had three miscarriages.

That was pretty intense.

And soon after word camp

us 2015, I discovered I was

pregnant for the fourth time.

Thankfully, I went on to have a son that

I can hold as soon after I had yet another

son enter the events calendar then by

modern tribe, I absolutely loved my time.

Working at the events calendar I began

to support queue and soon was moved

into working in release communications.

I enjoyed that process, but we went to

Panama and amazing opportunity Panama.


Earlier during that week, I was

asked about my job satisfaction.

If I enjoyed the work that I was

doing, and I struggled with that, I

didn’t feel like I could approach the

developers that were writing change logs.

And convert that into something

that made sense for our clients.

So with the help of a few people on my

team, I realized how I can get over that.

And that made all the difference for my

job satisfaction and also for our clients.

I want to give a big

thank you to Steven Page.

Scott Clark Jeff Serani Alexis, all

of the event, tickets screen team.

Thank you so much.

That brings me up to the point where I

was asked to apply a code differently.

This summer, when I applied the

initial program that I got to launch

was the high school students website

development internship program,

as a culmination to all of that.

The students got to speak at word camp

filling while there William Jackson

was our facilitator, William and his

new bride, Aida have been very active

in the WordPress community around

diversity, equity and inclusion.

And so our talk this summer

was a continuation of that.

William, thank you for all

that you did during that talk.

Also just before all of this

happened, the Genesis WP

community relaunched their show.

The first episode went out on being

black in the WordPress community.

We got to hear from like little the

co-founder of WordPress among others.

Thank you so much for that specific

talk that has meant a great deal

to the students in my program.

I should say at this time, that

before I left modern tribe with the

events calendar I reached out to read.

And Reed was able to provide some

hiring needs that modern tribe has had

traditionally with their applications.

And also I reached out to web dev studios

who provided me something similar as well.

So Brad and Reed, thank you both.

So very much as we were going through

our course, we use a lot of the lesson

plans that are on learned at WordPress

that work having the lesson plans, there

goes a long way for those that fund our


How does school run for us?

And what’s my approach

to teaching WordPress.

You know, there are lots of ways to learn

how to use WordPress, and there are lots

of ways these days to learn to code.

We of course were entirely online.

So we were using Slack and zoom like

everybody else, but also our classroom

runs using LearnDash each day.

We have a specific lesson that

the students will go through with

different topics inside of it.

I post all the recordings

onto Vimeo and then we drop it

into our LearnDash classroom.

I approach it first from

being a really good user.

We have to learn how to use WordPress

before we can start developing

a lot for it so that we know the

power of what we are developing.

We run through all of the basic WordPress

settings and we do that using the WP one

Oh one plugin, the students are able to

watch a bunch of short videos and navigate

their way through building their websites.

Then we move on to being a.

Power administrator and

they set up accounts for me.

And with that, I’m able to configure

GoDaddy pro and as a teacher, I can

hop in and out of their websites

easily from one browser window.

We use local WP.

Anytime that we are testing out

lots of plugins or themes, things

that we’re going to quickly install

an uninstalled sort of students,

websites are hosted with SiteGround.

And we use the collaboration tool

inside of SiteGround to allow them

their own access to just their

live website within one account.

One of those early lessons that

we cover is all about plugins,

how to use them, and then also how

to participate with them.

After we get through, hello Dolly.

We also installed Jetpack and we

get our mobile apps configured.

Some of our students this past

summer were indicating to me that

they were unable to access the

websites outside of their phone.

Once our program concluded because they

didn’t have reliable access to laptops.

So being able to access the

WordPress mobile app became

really, really important to them.


I’m really thankful that you were

able to take quick action so that

we were able to continue using the

WordPress app in the Apple store, near

the upper end of our user program.

We learn how to use page

builders specifically.

I want to give a call out to

Jamie V over at Beaver builder.

Thank you for kindly extending

a license to our students.

The students learn how to

use a page builder just after

learning CSS, bootstrap.

That’s because BeaverBuilder

uses CSS bootstrap with it.

I find that the page builder

method gives them a bridge between

learning some code to learning, how

to build a WordPress website, that

interfaces with the database and all

of the PHP needs that happen there.

So it’s a good way to visually help

students connect what they’re working

on to how that impacts their website.

As we get through being a really

good user, we then move on to

porking plugins, child themes,

starter frameworks, and more.

So I’m looking forward to

seeing where we can go.

You know, each cohort is very

similar to a feature release.

We have new things that we can do

with it, and it new places that we’re

going, we need to continue being aware.

About where we’re press is.

For instance, right now you’re

two into a 10 year life cycle

of rolling out the block editor.

We have the widgets areas seeing

blocks coming in soon, and hopefully

we’ll have full site editing in

the works in the near future.

So I’m really excited to see where this

is going, but you could see why it’s

like wading into a river part of the

support system that’s available around.

All of that are all of

you wonderful folks.

Some of you run some informal Slack

systems like the WP women of color.

My students have jumped

into that one, too.

The business of WP to the

Beaver builder, Slack.

You’ve been a great support system to my

students and inspire them along the way.

I also try to connect them into

as many meetups as they can

reasonably fit into their life.

So we had a few students attend

the WordPress mechan meet up.

The David Bissette was running.

That happened in November and

Adam silver was a speaker at it.

Adam, thank you for all the podcasting

and all of the meetups and things

that you do in this community.

My students were really inspired by

that talk as well as a few of the

other meetups that they’ve gone to.

I still have some really big

questions that I’m thinking about.

We believe in democratizing publishing.

So I’m wrapping my head around.

What does the training for that

democratize publishing look like?

Um, we’re able to provide this

program at no cost to participants

through government funding, but what

does that look like for learning all

over the languages under the hood?

Um, what kind of training is

ideal in those situations?

And are we democratizing those

open source languages too?

I consider a lot about fair

representations of brands without

turning into a pitch Fest in our class.

Anytime I mentioned a brand, we oftentimes

look at several people that feel

that same niche within the community.

We go to the websites.

We look at the career

listings that are there.

Another big area I’ve been thinking

about is mentorship and job shadowing

opportunities to give people an

opportunity to really see what

the day-to-day work looks like.

And as they wrap up.

That initial on-ramp and they

get out into the workforce,

they need to continue learning.

And Michelle shared about that a

little bit on Twitter or the one

day, um, just around that feeling of

how do I juggle doing the work for

clients, making sure it’s current and

continuing to wear myself and making

sure that what’s being delivered.

It’s still going to be current

by the time we ship it.

Um, you know, we’re really changing a lot

of things right now, and this is where

it can feel like a raging river at times.

So I’m trying to set the stage for how

do we have that proper work-life balance?

How do we live well in what

we’re doing and continue to

work on our own development,

work on developing developers.

So what could mentorship opportunities

with that look like and how can we

as a community create some of that.

In general, I want to give a great big

thank you to the WordPress community.

You were helping to onboard the

students in our program that

have been displaced by COVID.

You are welcoming them into the

community and on the next step,

in their pathway to a new career.

But also, I want to thank you for

what you have meant to me over the

years, Shane Reed and Peter you’ve

set the bar on company culture.

I thank you for that opportunity,

Zach, at the events calendar,

likewise, there was a lot of

personal development happening at me.

And you were open for that.

You have all supported me in my journey

to this point and also my students’

journey onto their next steps as well.

So we’re pressed community.

Thank you so much.

You can find us over at

You can find me on Twitter @courtneyengle

And I’ll be in the chat room.

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