Learning to Code: I Did It This Year. Your Turn!

headshot alex k Learning to Code: I Did It This Year. Your Turn!Alex Kehayias is a Startup Bus veteran who was named one of Betabeat’s 20 to Poach in 2011; he’s currently working on GoalSay. A version of this post originally appeared on his TumblrHe’s “totally serious” about finding developers mentors.

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 three months I was contributing code to my startup, in five months I was writing web apps from the bottom up. Since then I’ve become the tech co-founder for my startup BeanSprout, and built six 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 a 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.