Looking for a mentor?
TL;DR I'm looking for marginalised folx to mentor. If you want to get into CS, reach out, if you're not sure, play Factorio.
I am not a veteran by any means, but some smart people have said that to teach, you only need to be one step ahead of someone to teach them. Besides, there have been people that have taken me under their wing in various ways which have helped me enormously. I want to pay that forward, so I'm looking for people to mentor.
Is this for me?
While I'd be open to mentoring anyone who wants to hear my advice, I'd love the opportunity to mentor flox with a marginalised background. That includes but is not limited too, gender non-conforming folx, people of colour, neurodivergent folx or poor folx. If you belong to at least one of those categories, I highly encourage you to reach out. Even if you have no programming experience, and especially if you're interested in it, but "don't think you could do it". I'm willing to bet that you can. Reach out, and we'll try to figure it out together.
Why am I doing this?
The reason I do want to do this is three-fold. Firstly, as I said, I want to give people at least some of the opportunities that I have been given. I'm under no illusion that this will start a revolution, but I hope to help enable people to take a path in life that they want. Maybe CS is that path; perhaps it's just a way to get to that path. Either is a valid reason to go into CS I think. But it can be intimidating to get into CS if you don't have certain privileges. I'm hoping that I can alleviate that bottleneck a bit, even if for only one person at a time.
Secondly, I'm doing this for the industry. I think almost all industries, but especially any tech-related industry desperately needs diversification. Partly because I believe in equality but also to make it more sustainable and even more useful, I think diversification will lead to better working conditions. Better working conditions lead to both better products and more importantly, happier humans. Which also has the added benefit of making this more comfortable for me. But again, I think the diversification of a workforce makes it much more effective. Having people with different backgrounds and different perspectives helps us eliminate design faults that make things better for everyone. The
Lastly, I'm doing this in large part for myself. I hugely value the ability to communicate clearly. I hope that by continually interacting one on one with people who are just starting, it will help keep me grounded. When you live in an Ivory Tower as I do, it's easy to forget what is hard and complicated for folx without that background. This way, I want to try and keep my communication grounded and sane for people outside of my field of expertise. Additionally, I've found that interacting with people from marginalised backgrounds helps me grow as a person. I find it very nourishing to hear different perspectives and learn about difficulties and experiences other than my own. It helps keep me motivated to make the world a better place.
What might it look like?
Let's get one thing clear here. That is not some set thing, nor is it anything "official". I'm not going to give you certificates, or assignments, or syllabi. I do not have a path laid out for you. You have to decide where you want to go, and maybe I can help you get there. That doesn't have to be anything concrete, but if you're dreaming of a tech startup or other get rich quick schemes, I am not the person to ask.
I plan to talk to you, probably over the internet. Of course, this is subject to both your and my availability, but I imagine we can either talk over some IM or skype if that's your thing. If you want to get into CS or programming and don't know where to start, I can help you with that. I have some experience with most, though not all, types of programming, so if you're stuck, I might be able to help you with that. I'm willing to look over your work and give you feedback where I can.
Okay Sam, but for real, will this be for me?
If you still doubt whether CS could be for you here's a good litmus test: play Factorio. At the time of writing it's like 20 quid on steam and even has a free demo. If you like it, even if you're not good at it, there's a huge chance I can help you. That's not because it's an objectively good game or it says something about your personality, but because Factorio is a microcosm of what programming or CS is like, with a relatively low bar to entry. The types of thinking, the process of working, and types of activities involved are almost precisely the same as the real thing in my experience. If you don't like it or feel you're not good enough, don't worry about it, it's by no means a requirement. That is not some arbitrary bar for entry, but a way for you to get a taste of things to come if you're unsure.
Okay, I'm down. What do I do now?
Just send me a message. Tell me about your background, including pronouns, where you are in your journey and where you'd like to go. Don't stress too much about it; this is not a job interview. I want to get to know you a bit so we can decide if we're a good fit together. Don't stress if you don't get a reply for a while; I'm slow with communicating at times. Oh, and include the phrase "blue circuits and purple science" somewhere in your message. Doesn't have to make sense, it's so that I know you read this all the way through.