Starting today, I’m collaborating with freeCodeCamp on a YouTube series called Ask Preethi. You can write me with your coding questions, doubts, frustrations, and experiences.
Each week, I’ll answer a question I received. For my first video, I answered a question I get asked a lot:
“How do you get a first developer job — specifically, a React developer job — if you don’t have experience?”
And here’s my answer:
If you’re in tech, you’ve heard the mantra: coding is the new literacy.
Countless organizations are finding ways to embrace this new literacy. Even former President Barack Obama jumped on the bandwagon, saying “don’t just play on your phone — program it” as he endorsed the “Hour of Code” campaign.
Ultimately, coding isn’t just about coding. It’s about thinking, as put so eloquently by Steve Jobs:
“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”
This, more than anything, is why programming has become the lingua franca of the 21st century — because it develops your ability to think clearly about 21st century problems.
Like many young people, I too wanted to understand how computers work and how to build the software that runs the world. That’s where it all began for me, just about two years ago, when I decided to leave a seemingly perfect job at Andreessen Horowitz to pursue my dream of learning how to build software.
Fast forward to today and I couldn’t have even dreamed of how well that decision would work out.
Best of all, I’ve had the chance to build software that affects the daily lives of millions of people.
Long story short: coding is a superpower that I can’t imagine living without.
…But so many people who embark on learning that superpower hit roadblocks on the way and don’t make it.
That’s why I want to do everything I can to help new learners overcome the hurdles of learning code in the real world.
I get dozens of emails every week from developers around the world who are going through this inner struggle. The requests are usually similar: “How can I transition to software development like you have?” “What’s the secret to learning code as fast as possible?”
Reading those emails, I can sense their intense desire to learn and their dream to one day become a developer. But I can also feel the intense struggle they’re facing as they’re running into roadblocks — like not understanding certain concepts, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff they have to learn, not being able to land their first job, and so much more. I was in their shoes just a couple years ago… And they were painful shoes sometimes!
I have one big “thank you” to say for my successful transition: mentorship. I’m fortunate to have been able to reach out to my idols and have them see potential in me, and help me.
Now it’s my turn to give back.
I would love to respond to each and every email individually. Unfortunately, engaging in one-on-one mentorship (or even conversation!) with everyone who contacts me has proved to be impossible.
That said, it’s important to me that I help out as much as possible.
I’ll be choosing questions that strike me as having the most value to coding newcomers, and answering them in-depth via short, publicly-available video clips.
I would love to hear from you if you’re new to programming and have questions or need advice. I want to hear your unique story, and I want to hear about the specific struggles and frustrations that are holding you back.
Let’s admit it — learning to code is not easy. And becoming a full-time developer is even harder.
Just like you, I struggled too. Struggle is normal. But it’s important that you grab onto your dream of becoming a programmer as tight as you can. Because the scary thing is that “learning to code” doesn’t come with a prescribed path. You have to make your own path — and far too many promising developers are wandering astray for lack of help and mentorship.
Feel free to send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org starting now! I believe in you, and I can’t wait to connect. 😊