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Struggles With Mentorship

Introduction:

There’s no doubt about it. having a mentor is a big boon in any field, which is even more true when you think about something so complicated as programming. Not only you can ask questions to your mentor, they can impart all sorts of knowledge to you which you may never learn from books or google searches.

After all, how can you search for something, when you don’t even know what to search for?

But that is not all. They can be a huge help professionally as well, since if you have a great relation with them, you can also leverage their professional connections. Yes, it sounds selfish I completely agree with that. but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Also, it is good to have an experienced person in your corner while facing the professional world.

That is, if you can make someone to agree to mentor you. as a blind guy trying to learn programming, I tried to find a mentor in 2018. This article details my struggles, success, and failure with that endeavor.

Would you at least give me a chance?

So, a little background before we get to the programming. Back when I was six years old, I had a lot of interest in music. (In fact, still have to this day.) and recognizing my interest, my parents set out to find a music teacher for me.

I remember my mother taking me everywhere from large and expensive coaching classes, to humble tuitions run by a single guy in a society. And a lot of them replied that they couldn’t teach me. they didn’t talk about something like, “Okay, send the kid to us for a day or two, and then we’ll think about it.”

No. the answer was always no. Until we found the class run by these two people, who already had experience with blind people, due to one of them having a brother who happened to be blind. They taught me well, and then moved outside of the city. And my music in interest waned, mostly because I loved playing instruments, and people demanding (Yes, demand,) that I sing something for them as soon as they learned that I attend a music class.

Things got so bad that I decided that I don’t want to do anything with music anymore. Though now that I’m an adult, and my antisocial reputation has been established firmly, I’ll definitely be picking up some instruments once more, starting with piano.

Ahem. Let’s get back to the mentorship topic.

So, I graduated from the school, and everyone refused to let me attend a programming class before then, never mind that it would have been good for me to have an early advantage, instead of starting at the age of nineteen. But when we set out to find a class, most people refused us on the phone, not even giving us a meeting time where I might hopefully have a chance of convincing them otherwise.

I would like to take a moment here to note that playing this convincing game is very, very tiring, especially since society only gives you some empty and meaningless platitudes. The fact that I will have to play this game for the rest of my life is enough to drive me to depression.

Finally, someone who gave me a chance.

After being literally getting a lot of doors slammed on me and my family’s face, I finally found a mentor. He ran a company, along with teaching students. He initially told my sister to bring me to meet him, where he took his first look of my screen reader, and how I operate a system, along with my typing skills.

He was impressed, and agreed to teach me. he started me off with c, not an easy language to learn. But I believe that the programmers of his generation often use it to weed off the students.

(Yes, a lot of people would tell you c is easy compare to this or that. either they are genius, or are just lying. Most of them are liars.)

Anyway, he taught me for a year, and under him I exceled. The fact that he praised me a lot also helped my confidence.

But around in the middle of 2019, he started to suggest that I look for a government job. Naturally, I was most unwilling to follow this suggestion, because of my reasons, which I shall not reveal here, because the article is not about why I hate the bureaucratic jobs.

My mother who comes from the family where most people do have that sort of job agreed with him, much to my anger. I kind of stopped going to him after that. but I like to think that it didn’t turn out all bad, since we still talk to this day every once in a while.

As opposed to that other guy…

, Finding second mentor.

At this point, I didn’t needed another mentor. But I looked for one, mostly, because I thought it’ll be easier to find work through them later in the future. Not the most compassionate of reasons I know. But there it was.

So, this new guy decided to teach me java. Let’s compare the teaching styles first, as it is kind of inevitable.

While my first mentor only used minimum of theory, and emphasized the practical side more, this guy wasted a whole month in theory, not letting me create one program.

Now that the comparison is done, let’s talk about how things turned out with him. He has been working as a developer since 2013, having worked in multiple companies, and even ran his own once or twice. He seems to have a lot of information regarding interviews and how to deal with them.

And let me tell you, a lot of the times, he infuriated me because of that. he always focused on memorizing some obscure bits of a language, just because interviewers ask about that. few days later, when he asked me about it, naturally I forget that. he’ll then tell me to remember that again and again.

He also appeared to have faulty information regarding certain things. One day, the topic of assembly language came up. I told him that it’s a hardware specific language, exclusive to a particular model of CPU. Which is correct, as you’ll learn if you Google around some.

But instead, he called me wrong, and created a simple assembly program, in an effort to prove something, what though, I still don’t understand to this day.

And by god, his teaching style caused me to hate java even more, which I already hated from the very first program. “Java is good, java is great, java is end all and be all of programming. Java equals programming.” I heard this and more, regularly, each and every day when I was learning under him.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, he demanded such high fees for teaching me, that it was better to go on coursera and learn from there. The fact that he promised me that he’ll also give me projects, while failing to give me a single one proved to be the final straw.

At which point, I told him this, “I don’t want to do any of your courses anymore, no matter how much in demand the technology happens to be. If you have a project for me, then we can talk, otherwise, leave me alone, and stop calling me.” I note here that he has yet to call or message me to this day, whereas he always messaged me at the interval of every day or so.

But I suppose that he did me a favor. In India, there are a lot of coaching classes, as well as these developers, who demand huge fees from students in the name of their future jobs, which they talk as if it is already reserved and assured. As a result, people end up in debt.

I fortunately avoided that debt. Yes, I’m sure that some economics expert would blow a gasket when I say this, but I’ll say this all the same. I have an extreme eversion to getting in debt, or taking out loans. I often do everything in my power to avoid them.

Conclusion:

In the end, all this proves that mentors are hard to find, and finding a mentor who genuinely wants you to succeed, to whom you can meet at the end of your career, and remember the good old days while sharing a drink is even harder.

It is very easy to find people who will rip you off instead with false promises.

And of course, finding mentor in my situation, as a blind guy trying to break into programming is even harder. Though I’m glad to say this now that I don’t need one honestly. Either I’ll end up working in this field, or probably suffer for the rest of my life as a bureaucrat.

I also understand that not everyone who is reading this would be a programmer. If you’ve managed to stay here despite all the strange terms, thank you. you have my gratitude.

This article was supposed to be posted on Wednesday, but I got sick that day, and I didn’t wanted to start my laptop, and touch a keyboard, let alone write something. Sorry for that delay.

Please follow my twitter:

My twitter.

If you want to read about how I started this blog, you can read it here:

My struggles to start this blog.

Also, please share this article, comment, like, subscribe, thank you.

Published by Tanish Shrivastava

I'm a guy who likes programming, chess, and writing.

4 thoughts on “Struggles With Mentorship

    1. Oh god, my first comment! Thanks so much! I can’t believe that I finally have a comment on my article.

      Ahem. You’re right. Though if you ever find a great person, even if they’re not a teacher, stay in contact with them. It is important to hold on to the people who are of real value to us, rather than build superficial relations which won’t even last a week, since both people would forget each other.

      Liked by 1 person

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