Software Engineering Landscape 2016

A founder takes a wide view mentoring diverse developers around the world.

GUEST COLUMN | by Weiting Liu

CREDIT codementor.ioThe software engineering industry has been booming, with a growing number of jobs available each year. Software, game, app, web developers and the like are high in demand, so many students are eager to learn Computer Science and Programming to be eligible for these often secure and well-payed jobs. There are now even companies who use learning algorithms and curated coding interview questions to help people prepare for interviews in programming.

Some areas in the US, as well as globally, have taken it a step further to encourage students to learn to code in the classroom by teaching coding in primary schools and even allowing coding as a substitute for the foreign language requirement. Other students, as well as teachers, have taken steps in this direction with “Programming Clubs” and “Hackathons” as a space for those interested in this field to get together and enhance their skills. A new windows computer and a weekend workshop even changed this Harlem teen’s life.

Our platform has helped connect developers around the world who are at different learning stages, bringing together a wide range of people from different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Programming is not an easy task and can be very frustrating at times for both students and professionals, and that’s where Codementor comes into the picture. Simply put, Codementor is an online platform for live 1-on-1 mentorship from expert developers. Mentors are based across the globe and can help with any coding related issues and questions at any time of the day. The platform was initially built for developers to get instant help with troubleshooting issues, but as the platform grew, it became useful in many other scenarios, such as homework/coursework help and long-term mentoring.

Like any other skill, one’s coding ability will differ from person to person, and some students may need a reliable and experienced resource, such as a mentor, to help them understand difficult concepts, or even learn from real-time troubleshooting and pair programming. On the other end of the spectrum, teachers have also been able to use such platforms as a way to review and get feedback on their computer science curriculum, stay updated with the newest trends, and deepen their own technical knowledge.

Challenges

Students, particularly those in high school and college, may only think of using such a platform whenever they’re having issues with their code or need practice before a test or interview. A major challenge is encouraging mentoring as a way to learn and improve programming skills, which has a much more lasting effect and benefit for those who really want to excel in this field. From taking computer science classes to reading online tutorials, mentoring (especially on a one-on-one basis) is often not factored into the equation.

Since on-demand help and long-term mentoring may not be the most affordable option for students who want to learn the basics or learn technologies outside of their school curriculum, my company originally did not have a service to address this gap for a while after our launch. A few months ago, we launched Group Live Classes, which is an affordable group mentorship product for beginner and intermediate topics. We’re now seeing many students attending our live classes. As an example, a highly motivated high school student joined Codementor’s live classes to learn Swift (programming language) to build his own iPhone application. Instead of having to commute and also pay hundreds of dollars to take a programming class in-person, our Live Classes are now a way for students to learn and interact with a live instructor online.

On the “supply” side, a challenge within the computer science industry is that many people who study to become software developers end up being software developers for the rest of their lives. While this is great for these developers, many do not plan on teaching others, leading to a shortage of computer science educators. Additionally, programming can be a very introverted activity, so not all programmers have the ability to teach others effectively. Luckily though, there are still a handful of experienced developers who understand the difficulties of coding and have a knack for guiding others in the right direction, breaking things down so that they are easier to understand.

Going Forward

If we take a step back and look at what has been accomplished so far, we can see that our platform has helped connect developers around the world who are at different learning stages, bringing together a wide range of people from different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Our platform makes coding help more attainable for those who need it and may not be able to receive help otherwise, which is why we’re happy to be able to have a partnership with Andela to help developers in Africa who working remotely for US companies, through arranging on-going mentorships with our mentors.
Aside from helping students, teachers, entrepreneurs, and professionals throughout the multiple stages of learning to code and becoming a developer, we hope to continue to encourage more people to learn to code and advocate mentorships as a helpful and necessary way for anyone to learn better, and ultimately, improve their lives as well as others.

Weiting Lu is Founder and CEO of Codementor, an instant real-time help marketplace for developers making it easy for them to get instant help from experts via code/screen sharing, video, and text.

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