Video details

How to Accelerate Your Learning Journey with a Coding Buddy!


Presented by Women Who Code Python Speaker: Isabella Hoesch. Hosted/Moderated by Stephanie Rideout ✨ Topic: How to Accelerate Your Learning Journey with a Coding Buddy!
Teaching yourself to code can be extremely lonely and inefficient! Shifting into tech and staying up-to-date in tech requires you to constantly learn new things, no matter how far along you are in your coding journey.
Join us for an exciting informative session about collaboration-based learning and why more and more coders choose to share their learning journey with a buddy! Plus learn how you can be matched with a coding buddy through an exciting matching program!
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Welcome everyone. This is how to accelerate your learning journey with a coding buddy. I'm Stephanie Wright, Out Leadership Fellow at Women Who Code, and I'm very excited to welcome Isabella Hirsch here today with me. Isabella is a self taught coder with a background in early tech companies. As a Women Who Code volunteer, she founded the Buddy Me Up program to help Women Who Code Python members to find their coding buddy. Buddy Me Up recently grew into Codum, a platform that pairs coders from all over the world for mutual and collaborative goal achievement. So to share a little bit about the history of Buddy Me Up, Isabella initiated this program in 2020 when she was buddied up with Rachel, who is also very amazing, and they built this program together with the goal of helping ambitious coders to find a buddy. Isabella designed this algorithm that matches the buddy pairs and groups and to share just a little bit about my personal experience with the Buddy Me Up program. I signed up for a coding buddy in round three of the Buddy Me Up program, which was kind of run in conjunction with the Women Who Code Python track. And I was matched with the most amazing buddy I really could have asked for. We had a lot of fun together and during our sessions we would share about the different coding projects we were each working on. We would give each other advice and help and support and encouragement. We'd like to talk about how much we love the Python programming language and we encouraged each other on our respective coding journeys. So without further Ado, I would like to pass the session on to Isabella. Take it away, Isabella. Hi everyone. I'm Isabella, and thank you, Stephanie, so much for that very nice introduction and also sharing your body experience. It's always super nice to hear about it. So I will start sharing a bit more about myself so that you get an idea of who you're listening to, what I'm doing and what I'm interested in and what I'm up to. So you can basically find me at the intersection of these three circles. So I started my career just after graduating from a business school as a junior data scientist, and as you can imagine, was super cold water was super tough, but I really enjoyed it. It was hard, a lot of self teaching involved, but I loved it and never looked back since. And after Fintech company, I moved to legal tech and, well, currently working on education technology. And on the right hand, we have psychology. And it's not because I studied it or anything, but just human psychology and how humans work, what drives them. I'm super interested in that. And to be fair, also, the junior data science position that I started out with was actually a behavioral data science team that I joined. So understanding user data and figuring out which type of user needs, which kind of interaction is what we did and was very interesting. Besides that, I'm also a certified systemic coach. I think that goes along well with all these other things of empowering people, helping them to reach their goals. So these are really my topics. Goal achievement, willpower, productivity and how do we get to where we want to be? And then the last circle entrepreneurialism. As I said, I have a business background. I like to get things started. I like to try out new things. And currently that is Kodon. Stephanie already mentioned it a little bit, and we'll talk about it later more. But also codom is really at this intersection of human behavior, tech learning, tech getting into tech. And that's what we'll be talking about today. So today's talk or today's presentation will be maybe a bit unusual for a woman who code events. So it's less technical, it's more behavioral, more psychological. But I hope you'll enjoy it. And I hope you take some nice take home messages, take them home with you. And we'll be talking about big challenges and goals. So especially in learning to code, why do we feel overwhelmed sometimes we'll talk about collaboration based learning and accountability partners and why one plus one is three. And then, of course, we'll talk about the new new, which is codom, and close it up with where can we actually find that coding, buddy? All right, so big challenges and goals. We humans. We like to improve and progress. So this really has been a pattern throughout human history in an evolutionary sense, as you can see here. But of course, also in a much smaller scale as well. So we like to grow. We like to grow personally and professionally. And January just passed, but I'm sure many of you have set yourself some New Year's resolutions, eating healthier, working out more, being more happy, quitting smoking and all these other things. Well, now it's February, and there is this trend of you can see it with the gym visits. People go a lot in January and then in February, they kind of slack. They go less, they forget about their goals. And we can see this really in all kinds of goals that we set ourselves. There's this big gap what we want to achieve and what we actually achieve or what we actually continue working on. And there's a few different reasons for that. So constant overload certainly is a big thing. So what usually happens is we get distracted. And I mean, we're living in the century of content overload and also the century of hyperlinks. It's so nice to surf the Internet, but it's so easy to follow rabbit holes and really end up in a completely different universe and forgetting even where you started and why you started. Then, of course, we have the issue of prioritization. So your goal loses its importance with time if we don't keep on reminding ourselves of it. So if we don't have someone to remind us that this is our goal, then we suddenly prioritize other things. And it's not because we're actually like that these new things or these other things are more important, but very often it's because they are more urgent. And unless we have managed to make our overall big goal part of our routine, we tend to forget that it was our goal. So it happened to me quite often or I recently realized I signed up to a course, and I only realized a year later when I wanted to sign up again for the same course that it had been my goal before. So we need to remind ourselves. We need people to remind ourselves or find a system where we don't get sidetracked by all these different things firing at us and then complexity and missing guidance. I think that's a very, very big one, especially when you want to start out with a new, big challenge, a new, big goal that is new to you, because when something is more complex and there's no clear roadmap, we don't have a clear set of actions to follow. Well, what very often happens is we feel overwhelmed and we give up or we just don't know what to do and we're disencora. This is, of course, a big topic in teaching yourself to code, because most people start and they don't know the difference between data science and web development or I don't know, people have asked me say, I code, and then they think I can fix the printer. No, I can't. When it comes to teaching yourself to code, there's little guidance involved, and it's very common. People feel overwhelmed and are paralyzed and are basically unable to act. Well, this is basically what happens. The more complex the challenge, the bigger the fear. And you sit in front of the laptop and even though there are so many things you wanted to do, you could theoretically do, you're just not doing anything. Well, in a way, if you think about it, this is a very weird mechanism. The of human mind. Right. Why would you stop functioning? The more you want to actually act? So it makes no sense. But if you think about it and you go back a bit in time, it does actually make sense because it used to make sense. Evolution really thought about that. So when the challenge gets too big, it turns into a threat. And what has saved our lives for a very long time is fight, flight, or free. And this is really part of the core part of our brain, the amygdala. That's the first one firing when we're getting in a situation where we just have to automatically react. And this is the one that is shutting down our brain and we're freezing and. Well, not thinking about whether it's in code error or a scary line of code. A bear or maybe an angry mammoth. Well, it used to make sense right now question is the good thing is we humans. We have figured out how to circumvent that. And the good thing is, especially in modern times, if we don't have to freeze, we can awaken from the freeze because the laptop won't attack us. We can have some time to think about it. But for us humans, we have figured team stuff works for us. And that's why we are or why we have become or why we had to become social animals. We had to be social animals to survive. And because we are social animals, we are more comfortable being accountable for others. So we hate letting people down. It's a horrible feeling, or at least I hope it's also a horrible feeling for you. But for me, I hate letting people down. If you commit to something, you want to live up to your promises. So this originates from the caveman days. If we don't provide for one another, if we don't protect the herd, it involves very high costs for ourselves, we'll probably die. And this feeling of accountability, Interestingly, does not work as well the other way around. So that is why many people fail with their New Year's resolutions. They only tell themselves, I want to do this. And well, if you don't do it, nothing will happen. It's not just New Year's resolutions. For example, for myself, I like to run. And if I tell myself, okay, you want to run regularly, you want to run more, let's go running every morning. 05:00 A.m. I'm really great at coming up with excuses why not to go. But if my running buddy is waiting for me, well, then I'll jump out of bed. No matter if I had a bad night of sleep, no matter if the weather maybe is not great and it's still dark outside, I'll go. I don't want to let her down. And also during the run, if I'm feeling like today is on my day, I will not stop because I don't want to ruin her run as well. And running is just one example. I think many of us can relate to sports and also healthy life choices. But yeah, there are many studies that have shown that people I think for weight loss, there was a weight loss study where people look at people that partnered for a weight loss program. Those were more likely to succeed and reach their weight loss goals than the others. All right, so of course, this also applies to learning to studying, working and in particular. And what we're talking about today is learning to code by yourself without a given step by step roadmap. All right, so why is collaboration so great and so powerful? So if you're studying with someone, you're doing much more and better if you're working collaboratively and just to give some terms or some definitions, collaboration based learning, what it means is it's quite intuitive, I guess, working with someone opposed to working competitively because that's also a technique of encouraging you or working all by yourself. So with collaboration, we're talking about working in groups or working with at least one other person. And it is great because you have social support and social motivators. And same as back in the days when the hunters, the cavemen were hunting in a group, it reduces stress and anxiety. If you're with people, you know, okay, I can rely on you and on you. We can do this together. Same thing. It increases your self esteem. And with this one, I always like to think back in school when we were kids and I mean still today, but there are some people, you meet them in a group and then you meet them individually and they are just different human beings. And when they're in the group, they're like all big and all strong and by themselves without their friends, very different. And I think that's just really a nice example of very strong proof how we can change when we feel backed up. All right. And then, of course, working with someone just has increased commitment and accountability towards the other person when it comes to learning and content. If you work with someone, you learn by listening. So that person firstly comes with new knowledge, comes with new input, but also talks to you, writes to you. So you read and you hear. And those are two very vital mechanisms to actually comprehend new knowledge and to process new knowledge. And at the same time, you're giving back and you'll be explaining what you've been working on, what have been your struggles, how you solved it, and just by repeating what you did in words, your whole brain processes the process, the struggle again, and it manifests within your brain. And then lastly, of course, working with someone, you have a benchmark that you can compare yourself with and will motivate you again to do better. So in a way to conclude this slide, this is why if you work collaboratively and you take advantage of these synergies, that they increase effectiveness results, and you enjoy the journey much more. And that's why working with two people work together, the result is not the sum of the two people, but it's actually much more. And here it says three, but maybe it's $500. All right, so my big question is, with all these benefits just listed, if collaboration based learning is so great, why should we fight our self growth goals all by ourselves, struggle alone and learn much slower just because we have only our own errors or our own challenges to learn from? So stop fighting your battles alone and find an accountability partner or a study buddy, a learning partner to collaborate and take advantage of all these benefits that come from working with someone. And in the end, it really is up to you and you can turn a threat into a really fun adventure. And with all the challenges you have you'll be laughing about them. So just to talk about accountability partner, what does that actually mean? An accountability partner is a person who's not yourself, a person other than yourself, who has interest in you, staying committed to the goal that you want to achieve. So that person really cares. And because of that, that person checks in with you, encourages and supports you, and takes your goal as seriously as you. And what we want to promote here is not just how it works best if it is, if it's not an accountability partner, but an accountability partnership. So you get what you give. And if you have a very effective accountability partnership, that's the best thing. Well, you can do, not just for learning how to code, but I guess everywhere in life. And of course this all sounds awesome and great and everybody wants an accountability partner right now. But what is so important to remember? You get back what you put in and if you give, your body will do the same thing. So you really have to be committed, ambitious and supportive and keep that way. And what we've learned a lot from Budding Me Up and I'll be talking about that in a moment. What helps our buddies is to build a roadmap right away and you can alter that roadmap, but you need this guidance together. You have to set very small goals and go step by step so that you have rewards. And if something works, reward yourself, keep track of your progress, or really document everything you do, because then you can see what you have achieved and then you can also go back with how did you solve an error or a challenge that you've had before? And very importantly, set a routine and make it a habit. So it should feel like normal that you meet every Friday or every Sunday, whatever it is, maybe do every day, an hour of code colors or something else. Most importantly, share and celebrate the achievements, big or small. Also share them with your body, but also the community, maybe some more people because it will inspire them and also, well, it motivates yourself even more. Alright, so I just said we've learned all these things within running Buddy Me Up for a few months. So I want to spend a bit more time talking about Buddy Me Up and also what it grew into now. And I know some of you guys have been part of Budding Me Up and I'm Super happy for everyone who has already taken on an accountability partnership with a buddy and also everybody else who is curious about it and wants to hopefully try it after this event. And as Stephanie already mentioned in the introduction about a bit more than a year ago I paired up with Rachel and it all started because I was doing projects in my free time and it was locked down actually called it Lockdown and I felt like, okay, I'm doing this by myself. Nobody really cares. And it's fun, but could be more fun with someone. And I joined Woman Who Code and dropped this message into one of the channels. And I think the general channel saying, hey, is there anyone interested in building a project together? I'm looking for a buddy because I think it could be more fun. And it was actually super interesting to see that. I got so many responses, and I was like, wow, okay, I actually just wanted one buddy. But apparently I'm not the only person feeling this way of well, being quite alone on the self teaching journey if you're not in a course or in a boot camp. And I decided, well, I'll just take information from everybody who wants to join or who's looking for a buddy, and I'll find a match for everyone. And I did that. It took me so long. It took me an entire weekend, really just trying to find a good combination of people so that everybody would be happy. And of course, I paired myself up as well. And to be honest, I paired myself up with the person who matched me in my interests, but also who had the most humorous answers, which was a great choice because Rachel is fantastic and very funny. And after that, I thought, okay, everybody is paired up now, and now everybody can work on what they want to learn or what they want to learn to code. But I kept on getting these messages on Slack. Hey, are you still doing this? Can I also find a buddy? And I spoke with Rachel about it, and we figured, okay, we wanted a project anyway, so why don't we just build a matching algorithm and pair everybody who wants to have a buddy? And, well, there were so much more people coming and coming that we said, okay, after the matching algorithm, what we'll do, let's create a simple interface. Like, super simple. We're both not web developers and just have an interface where people can sign up, fill in the information, and then every ten weeks or so will trigger the matching algorithm and create matches. And for us, it was a great experience in many ways. On the one hand, we learned so much writing this algorithm. Rachel just had finished a boot camp, so she shared her knowledge with me, which was super nice. But also on a human level, of all these people signing up with the most motivated sign ups, like, I want to shift into tech, I want to change my life, I want to improve my job. And that was very rewarding. And we did it only for Python had signups from all over the world. I think maybe you can see it in the screen here. The most Western dot is on Hawaii. And then Rachel was in New Zealand. So really, across all the time zones, we were about 260 people joined, and we had regular sessions where people would share their projects and show us or show everyone what they had been working on. And there was really amazing projects from web development and building simple Django apps or more complicated Django or other apps logging apps where I had a lot of analysis data science projects like analyzing covert data or analyzing tweet Twitter data on the Arab Spring. It was very interesting. And then of course there's other buddies that they're not looking for bigger projects, but they're actually looking for a buddy to practice interview questions together or to take a course together. So it was like really a whole range of different styles of working together. And we asked for feedback regularly and it was so positive. And I especially like these three quotes here. My buddy changed my life. We're stronger together and I'm so lucky who I got paired with. But I really figured, wow, this program really made a difference. And we could see people did not just learn a lot, they also built friendships, many of them long lasting. And I know they're still talking and working together even though they live very far apart, different countries, different continents. And that is basically the reason why a few months ago I decided, okay, we are offering this now for women who code members and only for Python people interested in Python. Why don't we open this up for everybody who is taking on the coding journey by themselves? And that is where codom originated. Building on this African proverb, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. And yeah, basically offering accountability partner matching for everyone, no matter where their base, no matter their gender, no matter their background and origin. And I can show you the thing. So because many of you guys I've already heard, I'm curious, where can we actually find an accountability partner? So to share the newly launched Codon beta with you. Very exciting. We only went live three or four days ago now, so codom is available. Codum is for everybody who wants to pair up with someone else to either learn together or build projects together. And currently we offer buddy matching for coders. It's down here. I will highlight it for you in web development or data science. So it's not only for Python members anymore, it's for everyone in web development and data science, and especially focusing on Python, Ruby, R, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and SQL. So if this is something that you're interested in, that you're interested in improving or learning, then feel free to sign up. It's totally for free. And how it works or what happens when you sign up is that you sign up to the platform and you can just browse and check what other people are posting. You can also join our Slack channel just to get some interaction. And if you're ready to sign up for a buddy, then you can fill out a buddy sign up form where we ask information of what is your goal, what is your experience, so that we can make sure we find a good match for you. And the matchmaking, how it works is that you sign up. And once we have enough sign ups so that we can guarantee good matches, the matching will be triggered. So currently, this means that it might take a bit longer simply because we just launched, we're still spreading the word and we're very thankful and happy for everybody who's helping and sharing and spreading. But yeah. So you sign up, wait until the size is reached, which will probably take another one week or two in the beginning. And then you will be matched. You'll get notified, you'll get an email that you've got a buddy and you will be matched for ten weeks. So what we ask people that sign up is that they can commit to a ten week partnership where they meet at least twice a month just to make sure that you really take advantage of your Buddy's time and your own time. And you make it work for both of you. As I said earlier, that roadmaps and documentation is Super, super important. So on codom, you also have a tool where you can basically document your progress, set up new sessions, or set up a date for a new session so that you get into this habit and into this routine of making it a habit and not forgetting about it just because you signed up one day and then, well, a few weeks later, you just forget get about it. And with that, I will close the informational session. And I'm happy for any questions, give my best to answer them. And of course, you can also always reach out to me later. Thank you very much for listening and shoot your questions. I'm ready. Wonderful. So we do have a few questions. I'll start off one is, do you sign up through Women Who Code? So the answer is codom is a separate platform for Women who code. And so I popped that link in the chat. You go to the codom CC website and you sign up there. And then Isabella, if you get answered the second part, how do I spread the word about codom? Well, that's a very fair question. What we ask people to do, what helps us a lot is we also have Instagram. So it's CC, we have LinkedIn, CC, we have Twittercodom, CC. If you like our posts, if you create stories and, well, encourage people to sign up, that's probably the most effective you can do. Tell your friends about it. That would be super amazing. And just make sure people see it and get an idea of what it is. And I think the more people that spread it, the more responses we get. Fantastic. Next question. I just started coding for about three months now, still learning JavaScript, but really interested in learning Python as well. How does the buddy system picking system work? Do we get paired based on our skills? So you get paired based on your goals. So the only thing we ask for you in terms of experience and this is currently for the beginnings is we only ask for years of experience and then we focus on goals. So the language you want to talk, first of all the topic web development or data science, then the language that you want to look into, you want to learn, and then your goal so that we have different categories. So it would be newbie coding, could be interview prep, could be building a project. So you would choose from that and then based on your responses, the algorithm ranks for each person, the algorithm ranks the responses of each other person and then finds what is the best match for the overall sign up? And then I have two additional questions that are kind of right in line with that. Are there minimum technical requirements and is there some sort of pre qualifying level of programming coding to sign up? No. So a lot of our sign ups are complete beginners and I would say a few people have never really looked into anything. Most people have looked into things, have taken a first basic course, and then we also have a few people that are way advanced. We had someone with 40 years of experience, more looking to help people, but there is no requirement. But of course, the more like taking a basic course beforehand helps. But if you have not done it, it should not stop you from signing up because what matters is your motivation to learn. And if you can how you say contagionate, what's the word? You can share that with your buddy. That's more important than that. You tell them how to write this line of code. Wonderful. Another great question, can you sign up for more than one buddy or area? Like if I want to work on Ruby for my job. But data science analysis and Python for interviews. Currently you can only sign up for one body. And it's also what we purposely designed it this way to make sure that people really focus on one thing. So currently only one buddy per person. Do we get to preview our buddy first before finalizing the connection? No. So yeah, that's a very interesting question. And I've thought about this a lot. You know how Tinder works or the dating apps where you just swipe, but then you end up swiping like to the left and to take away again this choice of browsing 100 profiles, looking who's best. And then maybe most people wanting to pair up with one person. We're not doing that. So we match you, you cannot choose, we match you, we give you a match. And usually it's a good match. But we do have in case your buddy drops out for whichever reason. I mean, life happens or who knows, maybe not be the right person for you. You can unleash that person and sign up for a new buddy, but you don't get to choose from a few different profiles. Awesome. Thank you. Is this platform only for women? What if we only want to work with another woman? Yeah. So it's for everyone, women and nonwomen. But we have especially because we started with women who coded me up, and some people just feel more comfortable choosing who to work with in your buddy sign up. In your sign up form, you can put your preference that if you only want to work with a woman, you can state that and it will be taken into account. Next question. Projects are collaborated in GitHub or any separate platform. So if you choose to work on a project and you actually want to pair a program through GitHub, then you should definitely use GitHub on coding. We don't have its own coding interface. We don't have a tool where you can maybe someday we'll get there. But currently GitHub is doing a great job and you should learn with GitHub. Fantastic. Next question. I've done things like this before and off of my partner isn't as committed as I am and kind of eventually drops from the program. Are there supports for that or a way to be matched with someone serious? Interesting question. That's always the risk in these kind of setups and these kind of programs. We try to clear or to make sure people know what to expect and also that they are expected to commit to make sure everybody knows we're not matching them with a mentor or with a volunteer who likes spending their free time helping other people. So that's the best we can do to really use the wording the formulations to make sure expectation management is done well and also to make sure this is a community model where the people that join basically set the vibe. Yeah. That is what we try really to make very clear that you should not expect to suddenly have this altruistic person spending their free time on helping you. But giving back. Our time zone part of the selection process. Yeah. So that's also very good question, because all of these things came were part when we did the buddy me up program. So, I mean, I was the first body I got matched to Rachel, which was awesome. But we did struggle with time zones. I'm based in Germany, she's based in New Zealand, and it was just so far apart that it worked again. Like my evenings were her mornings and vice versa. It didn't work. But of course, we also had other people that were they were a good match personally, but then they struggled finding time for sessions. So we have put that into the new matching or into the new matching algorithm. Of course, it's not the number one important thing but the more setups we get, the more we can really accommodate all the important things. But your time zone. So we'll ask you for your location so we can calculate the time zone. And it is part of the matching algorithm that if everything fits well, you're more likely to be matched with a person in your time zone than to a person in other time zone or in a closed time zone. Fantastic. We do have a few more minutes for additional questions if anyone wants to pop them in the Q and A. There is one more question here, Isabella. Will there be a fee later on for using this platform? So what we are planning or the mission of this program really derived from women who called and buddy me up with the IP idea. Everybody should be able to take on their learning journey with a peer and not struggle by themselves. Because yes, we do have crazy expensive boot camps for 10,000 in the US. I don't know, it's insane. And people don't want to go back to University or they're also expensive. And we do want to provide this basic service or this basic help of people just taking it on by themselves. So the body matching should always be for free. That's part of the mission to spread or to help spread education around the world. So the general idea of codom is we want to match people and we also want to learn from them. What do they need? What can help them further? And we don't know exactly yet. Will this be going into mentorship? Will this be going into more productivity tools that help you really be manage yourself well, manage your productivity well, and they will figure out what do people need and probably add premium features or premium packages where there's some more tools where we'll have to ask money to survive also. But for the body matching, the aim is that this will always be available for everyone. Just got a question. What do I do if I signed up but still haven't received the quota confirmation email? And you should shoot me a message because this was resolved and I'm happy to help you go through it. Yeah, there was also a second question on that. So Isabella will work on looking into that for you. So that's what we have for today. So we can chat about this in a moment. Thank you everyone so much for joining us today. And Isabella, thank you so much for your time. Isabelle, is there anything else you would like to say before we close out? Can people connect with you? No. I mean, first of all, thank you everybody for coming and for listening. This has basically been the first big kick off session for codom and it's very exciting to get started. And thank you, Stephanie, for hosting and helping out and being one of the first buddies overall. But of course, everybody, you can connect with me either on LinkedIn so you can find me Isabella Hersh H-O-E-S-C-H is my last name and otherwise we have a slack for codom as well so you can connect with me over there and yeah if any other questions come up later, maybe just feel free to reach out. I'm happy to provide any late answers or any questions. Thank you fantastic well Isabella, thank you so much for joining today and sharing this wonderful platform with us and I definitely encourage everyone to consider signing up for a coding buddy because as I mentioned my experience with a coding buddy was so fantastic and I feel like I made a friend for life and so I hope that you all have wonderful experiences so thank you again all so much for joining and women who Code Python we do have a number of events coming up next week. I shared a link in the chat so please feel free to join us for some of our future events and we look forward to seeing you again very soon. Thank you all so much and have a wonderful morning evening afternoon whatever time of day it is for you. Thank you so much. Bye I see.