JavaScript at the Deli

How did a turkey sandwich manage to bring a west coast late-blooming coder and an east coast transitioning military veteran together? From what they tell me, it takes a whole jar of perseverance and lots of thinly sliced code. For Gordon Zhu and Ty Allen, the journey to master JavaScript starts best at the deli.

As a Vets Who Code student, Ty Allen, a veteran of the United States Air Force, ran into a personal progression challenge with developing as a programmer earlier this year. The challenge was specific to the JavaScript language. Life and human beings are complicated, so there were of course other factors affecting Ty’s learning: he’s a husband and father of three; many martial arts pupils are trained under his guidance; and the brother still works full-time to provide for his family. Needless to say there were plenty of distractions and competing priorities on his path to JavaScript mastery.

Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 miles west, an innovator named Gordon Zhu was developing a great solution to Ty’s issue. A Business and Economics graduate of the prestigious Wharton School, Gordon didn’t embark on the coding realm until after he started working at Google as a marketing professional.

To explain his move from marketing to software coding, we have to dive into a brief personal history. Back in college as an economics student, Gordon became concerned with income inequality and began researching different ways to combat the problem. One of the only real solutions he witnessed was quality education. This realization lead Gordon into tutoring others, and eventually into volunteer teaching at local high schools. Teaching seems second-nature to him, so it’s perfectly fitting that Gordon went on to launch a venture centered around teaching and tutoring others.

Once he started working for Google, coding became an obvious skillset to gain. There was just one problem — Gordon found coding difficult, and felt that the available resources at the time were not practical. His personal experience learning to code was not pleasant, but the difficulties lead him to challenge himself by teaching others to code. Gordon also recognized that the numerous coding boot camps around the globe are so freaking expensive! People either already have the money or are going into crazy debt to pay for the training, which then leads back to the economic issue of poverty. So, as a natural teacher and tutor, with an understanding of how in-demand coding skills are from his time working at Google, and with a passion to help people avoid and escape poverty, Gordon launched Watch and Code.

What brought Vets Who Code and Watch and Code together was a Code Newbie podcast episode featuring Vets Who Code founder Jerome Hardaway (click-here-to-listen). Gordon was tuned in as a listener, and was compelled to reach out after hearing Jerome recommend Eloquent JavaScript. On a whim, Gordon emailed Jerome to tell him that he should check out instead. After some back and forth communication, Jerome checked out the site and was impressed. So much so that he recommended Gordon’s Practical JavaScript module to Ty.

(click to play Watch and Code video selection)

Ty’s mind was completely blown when Gordon explained in one of the training videos that, essentially, JavaScript functions are just recipes. Gordon managed to make JavaScript functions as simple to put together and as easy to digest as a turkey sandwich.

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