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When “Learning to Code” Becomes a Reality

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This is more than just a blog post.

It’s the flag planted at the summit of a just-climbed mountain. It’s the victory lap at the end of challenging race. It’s an acknowledgment of finally achieving a decade-long goal.

As I’ve previously shared, learning to code has been on my list of things to do for at least 10 years. I have had a career in various online roles for 15 years, mostly in product and project management. In that time, I’ve learned to design, and am fairly proficient in HTML/CSS, but I never learned to code. I have tried and failed countless times.

But that endless series of defeats turned to success when I recently finished my first coding project. After starting with some online tutorials, I set out to build a “reddit for parents” where users could submit helpful articles and resources they have found online, and discuss it with other parents.

Introducing Parent’em:

I believe it’s important that your first project is based on functionality common in other sites so that you can find plenty of helpful guidance along the way. With that in mind, I designed Parent’em to mimic much of the Reddit experience. Users can create an account, post links with custom titles, comment on their (and others) links, and reply to each others comments. Most important, they can upvote and downvote every article, so that the community has an active voice in determining what content is featured.

Every user also has a basic profile page, which displays all the links they’ve submitted and comments they’ve shared.

The Secret To Success

After so many false starts learning to code, what made the difference this time? Having a mentor.

My CodeMentor Philipe started this journey by getting to know me, discussing my past attempts, and pushing me to define a specific goal for our time together. He introduced me to a few online tutorials that were perfect, and within the first two weeks, I built and deployed three different basic projects. At that point, he suggested I come up with my own project to build, and that’s when the idea of Parent’em was born.

Philipe will be the first to say that I’m 100% responsible for my own success, but having his guidance about how to get started, his expertise to answer my questions along the way, and our scheduled sessions to act as deadlines for my own homework served as the framework for that success to happen. The truth is that if I hadn’t worked with a mentor, I still wouldn’t be able to code.

I achieved this goal with bi-weekly one-hour sessions for 8 weeks. That doesn’t count the hours I put into this working on my own, but when I consider the proficiency I achieved in this relatively short time period, I’m blown away.

There is an old African proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” But that doesn’t hold true for learning to code. If you want to go far AND go quickly, find a mentor and go together.

Missed our earlier posts? Catch-up on our journey to finally learning to code with our previous posts:


About the Author

This article was written by Mark Webster from ShipyardNYC. Mark and his two other co-founders, Vipin and Minesh, are participating in Codementor’s Featured Stars Program, where they will work with a dedicated mentor to bolster their understanding of programming concepts and become better entrepreneurs.


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Martin Foley
Martin Foley
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CTO at Draft AI | #1 CodeMentor for Python, JS, Node, React for now - still working on the others ;)
I'm a Scotsman living in London. I have over 10 years experience coding. I have a first in Computer Science, worked at one of the top cyber...
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Josh David Miller
Josh David Miller
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startup advisor, speaker, CEO. More than mildly obsessed in seeing founders succeed. I only use my powers for good.
Every day, I get to work with startup founders as passionate as I am about building great products. I'm the CEO of Mindbox Studios, a custom...
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