Tackling Life’s Challenges and Leaning on Grok

Leah Drotch
Apr 24 · 5 min read

I’ve always craved adventure. It started when I was young but became apparent when I requested to go to boarding school when I was 16. I seek out opportunities for growth because I find that challenges make my life more interesting.

In addition, I was always drawn to teaching. At ten years old, I would create lesson plans and attempt to teach my younger siblings cursive on a whiteboard that we had in our kitchen. After I taught a lesson, I would design quizzes for them with my Mr. Sketch scented markers and proceed to give them real marks.

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“Keep challenging yourself to think better, do better, and be better.” -Robin S. Sharma

But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Leah and I am from the United States. I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of Rochester. As a Business and Psychology double major, I am particularly interested in marketing. I have passions for writing and educating children. As I’ve held the roles of babysitter, camp counselor, assistant teacher, seventh grade teacher, and now Grok Intern, I am the most content when working with children.

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So now you may ask how I found myself working for an Australian company as an American student. That’s a great question. For a while, I was hoping to find a job someday that tied all of these passions together. When I decided to study abroad in Sydney for a semester and was given the opportunity to intern with a company, I was instantly drawn to Grok. There was something challenging about working for a tech company, as I admittedly don’t have much experience in coding and analytics, but there was also something comforting about working for a company that puts love of learning first. Even during my first few days, I did not feel like an intern; I was immediately integrated into the team and put to work alongside people that were passionate about the same things as me. I was even given the tools to embark on my own coding adventure, which I’ll definitely speak about later in this blog. Life was great and I was settling into Sydney nicely.

A month into my internship, COVID-19 began to take over the world. The thought of being sent home from Sydney was devastating, not only because I would leave behind beautiful beaches, new international friends, and adorable animals, but I was afraid that the virus would rip me away from my new job. Soon enough, I had a flight booked back to the States, but Grok made it clear that they would do everything they could to support me remotely. So here I am, sitting at the dining room table in my parent’s house in Massachusetts, continuing my journey with Grok over 16,000 km away. Not everyone was as lucky. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that invested in me straight away and is up for any challenge.

This too will be a challenge. As we are all isolated in our own homes, the next few months are going to be an adventure in itself. I am so proud to be working for a company that is supporting teachers at this unprecedented time. Starting now and lasting until July, Grok is giving free access to courses and competitions for students and is working around the clock to improve and expand the remote features offered on the platform. If you want to read more about how Grok is responding to COVID-19, feel free to visit this link. Just because the world is taking a break, learning doesn’t have to. As we are facing all of our own obstacles, let’s give our students something to conquer as well.

Learning to Code as an Adult Using Grok

“Let’s get you set up with some courses!”

I was a little nervous hearing these words during my first week at Grok Learning. One of the main reasons why I chose to travel to Australia and intern with Grok was to challenge myself, but did I ever imagine I’d be learning how to code as an adult? Absolutely not. Throughout uni, coding was always something that was reserved for my friends in their difficult computer science courses. I would watch them ferociously type away on their computers in ways I simply did not and could not understand.

My mind was always filled with programming misconceptions: you need to be a super genius that excels at mathematics, it’s too late to learn, it’s an extremely anti-social activity… the list goes on.

So as you can imagine, launching Intro to Programming (Python) was a daunting task for me. As I started to learn and read through the modules, I very quickly thought to myself, “Wow this is kind of fun.” But it’s not easy.

I reach a diamond and it’s just me and the problem, and I know it’s up to me to find the solution with no shortcuts and no ways out. Sometimes it takes minutes and sometimes it takes much more thinking and re-reading of the notes.

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I am now addicted to coding.

I’ve found that it is frustrating, but am exhilarated and motivated by the green check marks on the screen. It is so incredibly unique to anything else I have learned before, as the challenges make my brain race and work in new ways. As I’m sitting at home with time on my hands, I very much weirdly enjoy getting lost in a problem. I love thinking: “Hmm, maybe I should indent there” and getting to the: “Yes! I got it!” And if I’m wrong? No worries at all: I just keep trying different things until I get it right. I feel like a child again.

What I value most about Grok courses specifically is how easy it is to understand the modules. There is always a chance to go back and relearn if I didn’t quite understand something the first time I read it.

I am gaining all of these valuable skills and I am giving my brain the exercise it needs, but I’m not being compared to my peers and I’m not stressed in the slightest.

It’s a beautiful feeling.

And this, I believe, is the definition of love of learning.

I think we should do everything we can to ensure that all of the children sitting in their homes get to experience this beautiful feeling. We all have our mountains to climb in the coming months, but to be able to hang onto the feelings of accomplishment and pride? That is the energy that will get us through any challenge.

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