Giving Back by Teaching

I have been very motivated to do things on my own in the past. When my school didn't have a class covering C++/graphics in my last year, I leaped to organize one. I pursued math subjects despite being called crazy for trying to do them. I love a challenge.

So when I sat down for my first job out of college, I was all about figuring out how to do things on my own. New codebase? I can handle this! Projects to work on? Bring it on, I can take it!

I was seated in a room with a senior developer. No one else but us.

By a few days in, I was quite nervous. There was a lot to learn. I was pretty glad he was the only one who could see me pouring through source files silently trying to figure it all out.

Ever so slightly, he nudged me on what to work on. 

He took time to write up long explanations of theory to help me understand parts of the code.

He gave me reading materials. Stayed late answering my questions. Told me to go home when I worked too hard. Gave me sections of the code to work on. Asked me what I loved doing, gave me projects related to that.

When I wanted to try something, I was able to. And if I failed, he'd fix it up and say it was okay and show me how to do better.

It felt okay to ask questions-- encouraged, even. I had support. No one was stupid, we were all learning even if we had experience. 

All of this was optional. He didn't have to do any of this. But it meant the world to me.

And I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it wasn't for those simple actions.

In college I once saw a tutor teach someone calculus, and was told he was just learning calculus himself. I was told that often the best way to learn something is to have to teach it, so he was actually encouraged to actively tutor students in the new subject. Maybe that idea is more true than many of us think. Even if you're just starting out, you can still help others.

Give back, take a moment out of the day to help someone. Make it normal to ask questions or not know things. Mentor people, reach out even if you don't really know someone, make lots of friends. Host workshops, teach. Actions that might not take a lot of time or feel easy to you can end up meaning a lot.

It can make a world of difference to someone.

Studying History and Computer Science

Visualizing Systems

Visualizing Systems