Student-Turned-Teaching Fellow Shane Tells Us All About His LaunchCode Experience
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to LaunchCode.
I received a B.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology from DeVry University in 2012 but was unable to find anything that really used my degree. I worked as an Electronics Bench Technician for M.C. Machinery for about a year after school, then jumped over to overnight Security Guard for John Deere for two years. I wasn’t really feeling the calling, so I saved up, quit my job and went on the search for coding resources. I stumbled upon LaunchCode when I was searching for places to learn coding in the St. Louis area. I’d say that was one of my more productive Google searches!
What motivated you to sign up?
My biggest motivation was that LaunchCode wants to work with people based on what they could do instead of how long they had been in the industry or what kind of degree you have. Being able to almost ignore those things opens the door to so many opportunities.
The thing that really surprised me was just how much we actually learned in the course
How did the reality of being a student in class differ from your expectations?
For me, it was about as hard as I expected it to be. The thing that really surprised me was just how much we actually learned in the course. It was so much more than I was expecting, and there was plenty of direction on where to go next, so I didn’t have a hard time at all continuing my education once the class was over.
Tell us about a highlight or two from class.
With the traditional school pressures of grades and tests lessened, the environment in the class just feels so much more comfortable. That, coupled with the fact that collaboration is encouraged instead of frowned upon, makes the class feel more like a place of learning than most traditional classrooms I’ve been in. It really drove it home that I could actually walk away from the course with something real.
What do you do as a Teaching Fellow with LaunchCode?
I help students with homework or in-class assignments, answer questions and try to get the students working together to get through problems. Even when I was in class I was doing what I could to help my fellow students, so it felt natural to move into an actual mentoring position.
Being adaptable is a huge asset.
Which skills or knowledge sets have turned out to be the most useful in mentoring?
I think the biggest thing that’s helped me out is my ability to look through another person’s code and identify errors. This has been huge in mentoring because it helps me quickly figure out what the student is struggling with. Being adaptable is also a huge asset. Not all students learn at the same pace or in the same way, so being able to change up how you teach according to the needs of the student you’re working with is essential to ensure sure they get the most out of class.
Describe the best experience you’ve had in the program.
The people are great. Consistently being around the students who are trying so hard to learn this new skill, as well as the other TFs who’ve been at this for a while, makes me want to be better at what I do. It also helps that they’re just a fun group to be around! The best part is seeing that “aha!” moment on a student’s face as they figure out a problem they’ve been struggling with. Knowing you’ve helped that happen is a great feeling that never goes away.
How has the teaching experience differed from your expectations?
I really did not think that I would be giving as much of my time outside of class as I have been. By trying to make sure I can answer any questions my students have, no matter how specific, I’ve ended up going through all the problem sets and readings as they have so I can better help them understand.
What would be your advice to someone interested in signing up to volunteer, mentor or teach with LaunchCode?
Be patient and be awesome. People are here to learn, and that’s exactly what we’re here to accomplish!
What advice would you give to someone considering taking a course through LaunchCode?
My advice would be to not stop once you start. It’s far too easy to get complacent once you think you’re on a roll or you’ve gotten ahead. There’s always something you’ll need to learn, so keep pushing the boundaries of what you know!
Overall, how has your experience with LaunchCode been?
Getting accepted into the class at LaunchCode has been one of the best things that’s ever happened for me, and it’s only gotten better!