How did a graphic designer end up being a mentee in Chicago Python User Group (ChiPy)’s Mentorship Program? (1/3)

I was always fascinated by computers. My father got our first computer, a Commodore64, when I was a child. All my curiosity started with that machine and when my sister started to take a programming course and wrote a music program with me on our Amiga 500. Even though I loved computers, I was more interested in visual graphics and animations. That’s why I became a graphic designer but I felt something was missing.

When I was at university we were taught HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Action Script. I used those only to create mock-ups. In my early career I’ve never needed to learn Back End since I worked with developers who told me what can be done or cannot. Their guidance helped my designs a lot. At first I started to learn coding to improve my work. Then I realized creating actual working projects are more thrilling than creating mock-ups and decided that’s what I was missing.

In 2016 I spent almost all my after work hours at technology and code meetups. I attended almost all 101 workshops. After a while, 101 workshops started to feel too easy and attending meetups started to feel like waste of time. Before the new year I made up my mind and set my goals for 2017:

  1. Stick with one coding language and learn it well!!
  2. Create at least 2 projects by the end of 2017
  3. Surround myself with people who have same ambition as I have
  4. Create an opportunity for public speaking and beat your fear

In the beginning of the year I started to learn Ruby. Ruby is designed and developed by the Japanese computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto (a.k.a. Matz). The main reason I started to learn Ruby was that I am a desperate Japanophile. Also, Railsbridge’s Ruby on Rails workshop made things easier for me. Nevertheless, my learning progress wasn’t going as fast as I expected. For some reason I just couldn’t click with Ruby.

While I was struggling to learn Ruby, my classmate from Japanese class told me about ChiPy. After talking to her I checked Codeacademy’s Python class and I decided to go to a ChiPy meetup. Before the meetup I wanted to play around with Python and I tried to create a PTO calculator. Thanks to a ChiPy member who helped me on my first meetup, we made that calculator work and that’s how my Python journey started.

Why ChiPy?

I usually feel uncomfortable at the meetups because of new people, new places, new topics... ChiPy was the most organized and welcoming meetup that I’ve ever been to so far. They split people into three groups for Python 101, webdev and data science. Before each meetup they explain what’s going on, who the TAs are, what the rules are and whether there are any announcements they would make. They don’t exclude anyone.

They have a pretty good collection of suggestions for tutorials and projects on their meetup pages. If you don’t have any project for the night that helps a lot.

How are my goals going so far?

I am learning a coding language which is Python (✓), working on a web development project (✓), I am in a group that makes me feel like I belong there (✓) and at the end of the mentorship program in July I’ll make presentation(still in progress).

What happened since I accepted the ChiPy Mentorship Program?

I met great people. I started my project over at least 5 times. I deleted my database. I made mistakes, got angry, cursed, killed google search, read & tried all solutions that I found, sent help emails and messages to my mentor who calmed me down and showed me the right way to fix the issues (even just before he went to sleep).

A Twinkie Victim

Who is my mentor?

Chris Sinchok is a developer at a healthcare startup and an ex-senior developer of Onion. He’s been programming professionally for around 10 years. Since English nor Python is my native language he is being so patient to me. He is a great problem solver. His passion for programming and training inspires me.


I know as the project progresses, I’ll be more frustrated and make more mistakes. Even though I can see through the things that could happen, all of these excite me and gives me energy.

If you want to follow my progress, you can check the rest of my blog posts from the links below:

  1. How did a graphic designer end up being a mentee in Chicago Python User Group (ChiPy)’s Mentorship Program?
  2. A Django Journey
  3. The Code, the Error and the DeBug