Introducing open-source, project based mentorship
Project based mentorship is the future. I built http://mentorship.p2pu.org to connect people who want to learn (to code, design, whatever) or mentor by working on really cool projects.
I’m a self-taught coder and I’m proud of it. I now make a living doing what I love: building cool shit. I would not have gotten to this point as fast as I did without the help of amazing mentors. In January I made a promise to help anyone who came to me looking for a mentor to help them learn to code. I’ve met some amazing people as a result and have tried my best to help make good on that promise.
I haven’t done enough. So I’m doing more because I believe in this.
I teamed up with P2PU, a non-profit, helping people learn from their peers online. I shared my story with them, what I believe in, and they gave me an amazing opportunity to team up with them in Berlin, where I built the P2PU Mentorship platform.
Project Based Mentorships is the Future of Learning
Unfortunately, just matching people with mentors based on what they are learning doesn’t work. I know this because I did it. By hand. Interviewing everyone, matching people together, sending intro emails, etc. It’s scary for most people. You agree to work for an indefinite amount of time with someone you don’t know.
A better way to do mentorships:
- Create a project, something cool you want to work on
- Collaborate with people looking to learn or mentor
- Work on the project and learn along the way
Here’s an example:
- I want to learn to build interactive websites
- I create a project on P2PU Mentorship to build a cool site I’ve been dying to make
- Mentors with the skills I want to learn join my project and help guide me
- I work on the project and learn by doing with awesome mentors
- I’m working on something really cool, but I need help
- I create a project on P2PU Mentorship to work with people who want to learn and I will help guide them kind of like an academic advisor
- Learners join my project and we work on it together
Projects are the perfect opportunity to make mentorship happen online.
- You’ll know what your getting into (you join project you’re interested in)
- They are have a logical end (when the project is finished)
- Learners get to produce something they are proud of, work with experienced people, learn new skills
- Mentors benefit from more people working on their project, fresh ideas, and, of course, the joy of helping others
If you believe in online learning and helping others please join
If this sort of thing gets you excited, please join and help me pay it forward. Start a cool project and help make a difference.
Also if you are looking to learn Python and web development, the mentorship site itself is a project you can join led by yours truly. Check it out on github.
Learning to Code - I did it this year. Your turn.
Next week marks the one year anniversary since I started to learn to code with no previous experience (I have a bullshit degree in marketing). I still worked full time on my startup while learning at night and on weekends. In 3 months I was contributing code to my startup, in 5 months I was writing webapps from the bottom up. Since then I’ve become the tech co-founder for my startup BeanSprout, and built 6 web apps, websites, a simple iPhone app, and never stopped learning. I never thought I could do it. I was just some incredibly handsome business dude.
This is a call to arms and a challenge to those of you who always wanted to, but for whatever reason, haven’t taken the plunge to learn to code.
Have a Relentless Fucking Attitude
If you’re the kind of person that makes things happen no matter what and can get out of your comfort zone then you can learn to code. You want to build something so stop looking for a tech co-founder to make all your dreams come true. Learning to code will get you to that first step and make you so much more attractive to work with. Personally I value people who “Do” and I’m sure you do too. Prove it. Make it happen.
What You Want To Build Probably Isn’t That Hard
Many web startups that people are looking to start don’t have a huge technology risk* (at least not in the earliest stages). You’re not building some particle collision detection software (if you are talk to my physicist brother @9bladed) so you can probably simplify your idea and leverage existing open source tools to make a working prototype. It’s completely possible and I know that from experience. Every day you’re not doing something to build your dream is a waste. So stop being a puss, grow a pair, and learn.
*I’m generalizing based on the hundreds of ideas pitched to/around me from all over the NYC tech scene
Don’t Be Intimidated
Every culture and every area of expertise has their own nomenclature to inadvertently do one thing; make you feel like an idiot. Remember when you first took biology in school? Or learned to play that musical instrument? New rules, language, idioms, and prevailing wisdom. Same thing with programming. But it all does come together at some point and there is a method to the madness. It’s like those pictures that you stare at and eventually something 3D pops out.
Find a Mentor
Find someone who knows how to code in the area you’re interested (web, mobile, desktop, etc). You’d be amazed at how willing people are to help when you have genuine interest in learning. A mentor is a guide not a teacher. Someone who can point you in the right direction when you are super stuck and explain the way things fit together. It is a huge reason why I was able to succeed in learning to program coming from nothing. @jordanorelli is my mentor, python hacker, and friend and I owe him a lot through my journey. I want you to have the experience I did.
If You Read This Far, I Have A Proposal For You
So you’re motivated enough to finish reading this article about learning to program and I didn’t really tell you how to learn to program (don’t worry I’ll write a series posts about it). It’s extremely important to me to help people who want to learn to code. If you are serious about learning to code I fucking promise that I will find you a programming mentor. Tweet @alexkehayias and we’ll arrange some time to talk about finding you a mentor if you are truly motivated to learn programming. There are so many people who are willing to help and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me when I needed it most.