I remember when I took Calculus in high school. It was the first class where I couldn’t do the work in the class before and understand it good enough to get a grade that resembled passing. I actually had to study in advance for this class. So I would stay up late, put on some Isley brothers and crank it out at my desk in my bedroom. I would struggle through the concepts and practice problems and halfway understand things but not fully. Studying in advance and cranking out practice problems myself still left gaps in my knowledge. I got a group of my friends together and said we should start meeting once or twice a week to work on our calculus problems. We talked had fun and actually got some work done. What we were able to do was walk through each problem together and each person could explain a concept that someone else didn’t understand. It was better than even going to the teacher because my friends could explain in a way that a new learner could understand because they were on the same level as me. My teacher was like 60 years old with a PhD in Mathematics. This was almost automatic it was so simple for him.

This is the same for learning to code. Having a partner who is about at the same level as you will help you learn with someone who understands what you are going through. It will also help you make sure that you are keeping up with your assignments as someone else doing the same work as you will keep you motivated and on track.

No more learning and struggling by yourself for hours and hours. Ask someone, it will cut your learning time in half. You can use your time more effectively to solve more problems and build more projects. Also teaching others what you know will solidify your knowledge and give you the skill of learning to communicate difficult terms or concepts in a simple way. This is very helpful communicating with non-technical and technical teams in the workplace.

I have spent the last year being intentional about getting mentors in my business, coding, and personal life. I thought that the way you ask for mentors is just sending out emails of people you want to be your mentor and asking them to be your mentor. This only works like 10% of the time. The person you want to be your mentor has a lot of people who probably want to do the same and his or her time is limited.

I will do another post on how to attract a mentor. For this post, I want to talk about the benefits of a mentor.

A mentor is someone who is already where you want to go in a specific area. For a beginner coder, it is a person who has more than three years of coding experience.

This person can see where you are and understand what it takes to get where you want to go. There is a lot of free bad information online about proper form and syntax in coding. It is like looking at the urban dictionary for proper grammar and using it in formal contexts. You use it because you don’t even know it is not right.  A mentor can help you know what sources are reputable and what is not. ( A good developer will tell you to just read the documentation when you learn what this means your eyes will roll in annoyance but he or she is right)

Also, developers have different opinions about different things. If a method is controversial I ask about five developers, I take the average of what they say as correct. There are just things that are not exactly in the development world and this is my method for determining what I am going to use.

A mentor has connections you don’t. A mentor can give you connections to jobs, hiring managers, documents, that you don’t have that can help you advance your career further than you can alone.
This is why I recommend using BOTH an accountability group and a mentor when learning to code. When you dig into learning to code, it isn’t easy but it is rewarding. Almost nothing that is rewarding is easy. I have seen women make $20,000 pay raises within 6 months with learning to code. That kind of transformation doesn’t come without learning and growing pains.


If you are in Chicago:

We are having an intro to Coding Workshop at DePaul. Hurry early bird tickets are only $10.

If you are in Detroit:

Check out this event in October: Coding and Ciroc. Like half day party where you learn something. Signature cocktail included with ticket purchase. BYOB is allowed. Register and buy tickets on Eventbrite or on our FB Page

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by Miesha Jihan time to read: 4 min