My name is Chayya Syal and I have been a journalist for the last eight-nine years. I’ve worked across print, radio, broadcast, digital and video for a range of media outlets in the UK.

In addition to my media experience, I also created a blog named Avid Scribbler, and wrote weekly blogs for five years. Here I wrote about my experiences as a British born South Asian woman living and growing up in a post 9/11 world. The topics I wrote about ranged from the psychological impact this event had on the psyche of millions of South Asians across the world, social expectations from various South Asian cultures on women and how this affected those of us who had been born and raised in a Western environment. The blog attracted a global readership of 14,000 in five years and saw me being featured on national radio shows for my opinions on tech, ethnic identity and social issues.

I have had a passion for writing stories, reading and creativity from a young age. This is what drew me to a career in journalism: my love for storytelling and finding new and innovative ways of getting stories from unheard communities and bringing them to the attention of mainstream media/society.

More recently I have been able to fulfil the latter. I was thrown into the world of coding after applying for the BBC’s first ever Coding Journalism Pilot Project. I applied for the work scholarship because I taught myself basic code when I set up my blog Avid Scribbler back in 2012. In addition, I love tech (I am always trying out new apps and reading up on tech trends) and have been trying to find a way to fuse my journalist brain with technology. So when the Coding Journalism Project came up I went for it!!

I went from someone who couldn’t code (apart from basic HTML) to one who can create test chatbots, learnt to code in 4 languages and build computer programs/products in 12 weeks.