By Natasha Murashev (Co-Founder & Director of Operations, Holler)Since coming to Silicon Valley a little over a year ago, I fell in love with the hacker culture. It was incredible to meet people who had ideas and then actually went out and made them happen!
The problem was, I was a psychology major and do not have any coding experience. Nevertheless, I found some amazing people to start a startup with and it’s been an incredible journey so far. Yet, it is clear that my startup could use some more engineering help, and frustrating to have my hands tied up when it comes to helping out. That is why I decided to learn to code … several times over the last couple months actually.
I’ve tried different methods of learning.
- I first tried learning Ruby at
- but found it hard to generalize what I was typing into the terminal to a concrete goal outside the terminal.
- I attended a great free Ruby on Rails Workshop for Women — the food was great, but I walked out still very confused by how to apply what I learned in one day to a concrete website.
- I also tried Codecademy, which is a great introduction and walk-through, but doesn’t offer as much support and help when I get stuck.
Recently, I discovered the magic of the free Stanford Engineering Introduction to Computer Science course. The course not only provides class lectures, but actual handouts, assignments, and tests! I’ve gone through the first two lectures and am working on the assignments right now. Instead of starting off with typing “1+1” into a terminal and getting the terminal to say “2” for a result, which is how these other programs start teaching you, the Stanford course starts out by teaching you a very simple “Karel the Robot” programming language, where you make the robot move in a grid and pick up diamonds called “beepers”. In other words, whatever I type into a terminal has immediate concrete results!
It might be that years of formal education have left me incapable of learning any other way, but I really like the way this course is structured. I already completed the first two problems or the first assignment and couldn’t be prouder of myself (even though they’re probably “easy”). The other two problems in the assignment are a bit harder, and I’ve been frustrated enough to want to give up several times already! I even started a blog about my experience to hold myself accountable to keep going!
What I really need is a support study group of other women who are interested in learning how to code from the very very basics and would like to go through the Stanford Intro to Computer Science course together.
So if you’re interested in learning how to code from scratch with me, contact me at natasha [at] holler [dot] com and let’s learn together!
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About the guest blogger: Natasha Murashev is Co-Founder and Director of Operations of Holler, a stealth mobile application focused on building instant local communities. In her spare time, Natasha writes about project management and other organizational issues on her blog, She blogs at reorg. Follow her on Twitter at @natashamurashev.