App Prototyping

with Erin Parker

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How can we make best use of our time with mentors, and how can we find good mentors?

Erin Parker

Founder, Spitfire Athlete; iOS Engineer; National-Level Weightlifter

Lessons Learned

Just watching a person code can improve your skills.

Tell your friends what you’re working on – they can introduce you to helpful people.

Ask people for help whenever you need it - you never know what will come out of it.


Lesson: App Prototyping with Erin Parker

Step #2 Mentors: How can we make best use of our time with mentors, and how can we find good mentors?

I've had a variety of programming mentors who have helped totally accelerate my learning as a developer. I would talk to them either through email when I'm stuck on something, or actually just hang out with them and watch them code and that's been incredible. One person who I really look up to, her name is Eve. She's a brilliant iOS developer and she's also a great designer. So it was really cool watching her workflow because she'd design her own mocks and then she would run Xcode and put them in the build, and then make a really simple app with the mocks that she just designed. Just watching her workflow, watching her type really fast and efficiently make things was really inspiring and I learned a lot about how to debug from watching her too.

So mentors are huge. In programming it's huge to work with them or to watch them. One of my first programming mentors I actually met one day in a coffee shop, Phil's. She happened to be sitting in front of me. I could tell by the stickers on her laptop, you know, she had a GitHub sticker, a Twitter, and I was stuck on a programming thing at the time. I don't remember what the problem was, it had to do with Ruby on Rails and I just asked her. I said, "Hey, do you program in Ruby on Rails? Maybe you could help me with this problem." She actually was so eager to help, she took her laptop, she put it next to mine and started helping me out and we actually became really good friends.

Another mentor I met by telling a friend that I was learning Ruby on Rails, that friend said, "Hey, I have this friend who's great. Maybe I could introduce you to him and he could help out." That ended up being wonderful because every time I had a question and I would email him, he would respond within an hour. He usually knew how to reproduce the bug, what a potential solution could be and different ways I could solve the problem. So, I learned that even though I was stuck on something for an hour, I could still email him and then quickly get myself unstuck and continue making progress on the app.

So it helps to tell your friends what you're working on, because then they can introduce you to people who can help.

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