My Coding Journey

Or, why trying to teach yourself programming through online courses probably won’t work.

My first exposure to programming was in middle school, when my dad bought me a copy of Peter Cooper’s Beginning Ruby.

The book was a good introduction into the programming world, it taught me the basics of programming logic and the Ruby language.

It took me about 2 weeks to get through the whole thing, and I remember my happiness after I completed the last exercise in the book, a chat bot. I remember wanting to use what I learned to do what I originally learned programming for: to build apps. However, nothing in the book pointed me to what steps I should take next in order to apply my Ruby knowledge towards building apps. I did some research on the internet on using Ruby for apps, and I stumbled upon terms like Ruby on Rails and web frameworks. I tried and tried to make sense of these terms and how I could use them to build applications, but ultimately failed. I realized that I knew the language for building these apps, but not the concepts or architecture. Frustrated, I gave up after a month of trying to figure out how to progress in my coding journey as an 8th grader.

Fast forward 5 years, and I’m entering the University of Texas at Austin as a freshman. I realized I still wanted to learn how to make apps, so I tried to teach myself programming again using free online resources like codecademy and Khan Academy for languages like JavaScript and Python. It took me about 2 weeks each to complete both of these courses, and I was hit with the same feeling that I had 5 years ago: I didn’t know where to go next. That was when I realized that free courses and books on the internet are fantastic at teaching programming languages, but not how to use them. Frustrated, it looked like my dream of learning how to build apps was fading away. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon MakerSquare (now Hack Reactor), a 12 week coding bootcamp that promised a software engineering job after graduation. It seemed almost unbelievable; how could you spend only 12 weeks learning how to code, and get a $75,000 salary developer job immediately? However, after reading extensive reviews, it seemed like the real deal. I begged my parents to let me enroll and attend, even though I was much younger than the average student (I was 18 at the time).

Looking back, enrolling in MakerSquare turned out to be one of the best decisions in my life. MakerSquare provided the missing piece of the puzzle: it not only taught me the in’s and out’s of JavaScript, but how to use it to create anything I can dream of. Not only that, MakerSquare gave me the skill of learning how to learn, a skill that is applicable in every field and discipline.

After spending some time teaching for MakerSquare and privately tutoring kids in middle school and high school, I realized that I’m not alone in my desire to learn how to build apps as a youth. Free online courses like codecademy and Khan Academy aren’t gonna cut it in terms of learning how to be a self sufficient developer. They’ll teach you the in’s and out’s of programming just fine, but none of them will teach you how to use it to create the apps you want. I’ve decided to take what I’ve learned teaching at a top tier coding bootcamp, and apply it to teaching kids in middle and high school how to build any app they can think of. You can find the company I helped found and more information here at

Thanks for reading!