CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - “Why should Philly have all the fun?”
That was the response from Pamela Bey when asked why she is working hard to build a South Jersey technology scene in Camden.
Bey - the owner of Be Brilliant Media, a company that provides a wide range of website services - is spreading her web development wisdom through the South Jersey chapter of Girl Develop It.
Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn web and software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction.
The organization is committed to making sure women of all ages, races, educational levels and income can build confidence in their skills to develop web and mobile applications. The organization’s programs are open to both men and women.
The nonprofit organization has chapters in many cities throughout Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. With Bey leading the way, Girl Develop It now has a chapter in South Jersey.
Bey originally became involved with building blog sites and learning how people could make money off them through paid advertisements. With some advice from an acquaintance, she found out she could make a lot of money by building websites for other people.
“I had an acquaintance who was into the Internet and making money off of making websites for people,” Bey tells the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (https://on.cpsj.com/1EkoCHD ). “In 2008, she started making $10,000 a month and I was a single mom and no matter how much money I made, I didn’t have enough money.”
Bey was working three jobs to support her child and even held a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. The idea of leaving her jobs and working toward her passion for technology was scary, but she was confident.
“I thought if my friend could make that much money in a month, I could do it,” she said.
In 2010, Bey began her own business.
She got a taste of the emerging Philadelphia tech scene when she visited her father, who lived in the city. Bey says she loved the hustle and bustle of the city and decided to move to Camden, only a short drive from Philly.
Bey began to attend every MeetUp and class Girl Develop It Philly held and began to learn even more about coding a website and other related topics. She eventually worked her way to become a teacher-aide and teacher of WordPress classes while still attending classes on her own.
“Girl Develop It Philly is a community of women who were learning together and building a network of women who share the same interest in technology,” Bey said.
One woman inspired by Girl Develop It Philly to start her own company was Melissa Schipke, an MBA graduate from Rowan University. She, along with co-founder James Maxwell, created Tassl, an independent company providing a one-stop shop for everything related to a college.
“I got involved in the tech scene last year and Girl Develop It was the first resource I tapped into and it has been the best experience,” she said. “I started a technology company and the classes help with growing our business and learning how to communicate with people. I learned to do front-end development and have applied it to build the website that markets our products.”
Like Schipke, Bey says she noticed more people being aggressive in the tech scene, especially women.
“It makes you more confident in yourself because you develop relationships with people in the tech industry who have already made a name for themselves,” she said.
While teaching and attending classes, Bey noticed the women who came from New Jersey would stop showing up to classes because they had to travel to Philly, citing time and money.
“It actually costs them more to cross the bridge and pay for parking,” she said. “Some classes are at night in Philly and some women were scared to go to the night classes. We have moms and wives with families to take care. By the time you get out of the class at 9 p.m., you don’t get home until 9:30, 10 o’clock.”
She also realized the women from New Jersey who were working hard and making a name for themselves in the Philadelphia tech scene weren’t getting the recognition they deserved.
“There were women in Philly getting kudos for their involvement in the tech scene, even though I worked there longer and did more. I said why don’t we have a scene in New Jersey because we are a totally different state with different talent.”
By working with Camden CoLab, a plug-and-play co-working community, and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to coherently planning and implementing high-quality urban redevelopment projects, Bey’s vision of a South Jersey technology scene began to take shape.
“South Jersey was ready for this,” she said.
Bey approached Camden CoLab and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership in September about bringing Girl Develop It to Camden and she said it wasn’t hard to get support from both sides.
Suzanne Zamit, director of Camden CoLab, is a big supporter of Girl Develop It South Jersey and loves having the South Jersey chapter of Girl Develop It in their building.
“Pam is a trailblazer,” she said. “She singlehandedly brought Girl Develop It across the bridge and into South Jersey. I am a huge advocate of Girl Develop It because it provides women and men with an option to acquire a skill to advance their career or advance their job to earn a livable wage. People who can’t find or do not have money to access the necessary resources to learn about web development can now access that through Girl Develop It.”
Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), https://www.courierpostonline.com/
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