How I created a free, online, mentor-based code school for gamers with volunteers from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitch.

So I made a website called mood.gg a while back which I wrote a post about here. All you really need to know about the site is that it is a third-party app for the popular computer game League of Legends. The site hit the frontpage of Reddit with over 18k up-votes and went completely viral. Within 2 days of the site launch, it received over one million hits and within 4 days it was at 4 million. What I’m getting at is a lot of people were looking at it!

Before I ever even launched the site I decided to put a “Join TeamMood” button on the navigation bar.

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TeamMood was just a name I came up for my group that specialized in creating cool shit. My dad thought I was forming a sad-boy punk band when I told him the name.

But, TeamMood wasn’t really a team since I was the only member. I wanted to find smart people to work with on future projects/ideas which is why I put the “Join” button there in the first place. Of course, I had no idea my site would go viral and what would follow.

So on the actual “Join” page I tell people to send me their resumes if they were interested and I also said —

I don’t care if you’re a n00b or if you’re an expert as long as you are motivated to learn and create

This line really resonated with a lot of people. A lot of people.

Within 1 week of the site launch, I had over 500 resumes emailed to me from all sorts of people. Some of the categories included:

  • people working full time as engineers at Google, Twitch, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • computer science science students from all sorts of colleges located all around the world (USA, England, Tokyo, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, Russian, China, and many more).
  • high school students (Freshman -> Seniors)
  • a handful of middle schoolers (including a 12 year old from Morocco!)

Here are examples of what these emails

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I gotta say. This was pretty insane for me. I’m just an idiot who made a cool site. And now, a shit ton of people looked up to me. I can’t explain how weird it feels to have this many people support you out of nowhere. Almost every email had a resume or a little paragraph explaining why that person wanted to join. I was super humbled by it all.

When I started going through all the resumes I quickly realized that it’d be impossible to work with most of these people because of the difference in skills/programming knowledge. But, at the same time I didn’t want to reject them. Lots of the people who applied reminded me a lot of myself when I first started college. Really excited to learn, but no idea where to start.

So, then I finally had the idea. What if I took the people who applied with lots of skills (like people already working as full time software engineers) and made them mentors to those who were still rather new. The mentors wouldn’t be baby sitters, but rather just guides and people to bounce questions off of.

TeamMood was born.

I worked on this idea for a week until I finally came up with a plan and structure for an 8 week term where a student would need to come up with their own project idea and the mentor would help them build it over the course of the term. The student would be assigned weekly sprints by their mentor during their mandatory meetings every Sunday. The sprints would layout the specifics of what the student would need to complete to stay on track. Communication would be key! I also set up “office hours”. This is where a mentor who considered themselves an expert at some topic would make themselves available in a Discord room for one hour and anyone could come as them questions about that topic.

So, I went through all 500 resumes, picked the 95 people I liked most, and set up 20 minute talk with each of them to get a feel for what they were about. I actually did this all in a week so that wasn’t fun. But it was cool talking to all these amazing people, their ideas, and how excited they were to join the little school I was putting together! At the end of the interviews, I picked 8 mentors and 34 students for the first prototype of TeamMood. I told everyone else that I’d be reaching out to them after the prototype.

We set everything up via Discord and became a happy family.

Fast forward 8 weeks to today. TeamMood JUST finished its first 8 week term. Some amazing projects came from the students and every single person (including the mentors) learned some new shit. Some students really took advantage of the program + resources, worked hard, and actually managed to get job interviews after mentioning their projects to companies. That’s insane!!!

You can find all the projects from this term here: https://github.com/TeamMoodGitHub

Of course, TeamMood had TONS of problems which we learned about a lot from this prototype. I’ll talk about these in my next post. But, overall because of its success TeamMood will be continuing with a second term starting in a month.

I’ll end with this nice little message I got from one of the students at the end of the term :)

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Written by

deep learning engineer. follow me on twitter @farzatv.

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