Coding Up a Story

Self-taught coder Theresia Marten (CS'17) leverages on coding to tell stories on websites.

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As an undergraduate, Theresia Marten (CS'17) felt disconnected in the largely English-speaking environment at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. Having grown up in Palembang, Indonesia, she ran into some academic trouble due to her poor grasp of the language.

Things began to look up after she took WKWSCI’s Web Design and Technologies module in her third year. Coding provided her with a welcome reprieve from the stresses of school as she got to depict her thoughts using diagrams and infographics more often than words.

“What really matters is putting simple visual elements in an easy-to-follow order on a webpage,” said the self-taught coder. “Having an aesthetically pleasing user interface is good, but making its content understandable yet engaging is what makes it great.”

“Digital spaces like coding and information technology will keep growing non-stop. It will create a lot of opportunities for us and we should look into them.”

Theresia MartenMarketing and Public Relations Executive of 2359 Media

Currently working as a marketing and public relations executive at software consultancy firm 2359 Media, Marten’s primary job scope is to get clients to adopt her company’s chatbot product. The chatbot works by integrating itself into channels such as text messages, email and social media to receive queries and provide solutions for customers.

Recently, Marten noticed an increasing number of web designers jumping onto the storytelling bandwagon.

“Websites nowadays use compelling stories to sell products or services. Also, people are buying the story of how and why a solution comes about, not 100% on its functionalities and features,” she said.

When the opportunity to design her company’s chatbot website came along this September, Marten jumped at it. She was willing to take on the extra responsibilities without additional pay.

“I could have easily said, ‘Oh sorry, I can’t code.’ But because I wished to apply my coding skills in a corporate setting, I told them that I could and the task was fully passed to me.”

As a greenhorn and one of the few WKWSCI students who took up the Web Design and Technologies module, Marten fell behind as she was pitted against Information Engineering and Media students, who did the course as an elective. Still, she was determined to hone her skills and signed up for Codecademy, an online platform that offered free tutorials and exercises.

In the later half of that semester, Marten gave Nanyang Technological University’s Indonesian Student Association’s website a major overhaul. She subsequently managed to secure an internship with Resorts World Sentosa as an e-commerce and digital marketing intern. Marten believes her ability to code was what secured her the semester-long stint.

“The interview was quite short; what they wanted to know from me was that I could code. After they knew that I could, they were so excited to have me on the team,” she said. Marten received her internship offer a few days after the interview.

Marten sees a bright future in the coding landscape with the constant development of technology. She aspires to be a front-end developer — a type of programmer who creates the visual elements that users see on a website.

“Digital spaces like coding and information technology will keep growing non-stop. It will create a lot of opportunities for us and we should look into them,” she said.