Mar. 22nd, 2016

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I recently participated in the Codementor Featured Stars program. I was excited to hear about the program, which gives non-technical founders an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the technology on which their product runs. I was delighted to be mentoring Amanda, as one of my big goals in life is to help bridge the gap for underrepresented groups in tech. Teaching technology to a woman doing a non-technical role in a startup is one of my dream gigs, and the reality did not disappoint!

Every time I start with someone who is totally new to programming, I am reminded of how much there is to learn to make even a simple "hello world" program, let alone a web application. At the beginning, it's all a bunch of disconnected bits of knowledge. It's easier for the learner if they are willing to press ahead into the unknown and experiment, which Amanda did wholeheartedly. She was not afraid to go over her code with me and explain her thinking and accept corrections. This make makes the learning process much smoother, and far more pleasant for me.

I was very impressed with Amanda's diligence as she applied herself to climbing the steep learning curve. She faced the challenge with courage and intelligence, and her improvement was very noticeable session to session. With my guidance, she was able to achieve a functioning Django app with some front-end styling by the end of the one-month program, an impressive feat for a newcomer.

Amanda now has familiarity with basic programming concepts, which will enable her to better communicate with the developers in her company. One of her goals is to be able to make commits to the company's codebase. By the end of the month she was gaining enough familiarity with the tools and frameworks that she could see how she might start making small fixes. She is also setting a good example in her company and in her family, a value she and I share.
Mentoring Amanda was a joy, and we look forward to working together more in future. The Featured Stars program is a unique opportunity which I highly recommend it to both mentors and mentees.


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Jessamyn Smith

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