AMA: I'm Quincy Larson, the teacher who founded freeCodeCamp. Ask me Anything!
Hey Hashnode community 👋, I'm Quincy Larson, the teacher who founded freeCodeCamp.org, a nonprofit community that helps you learn to code by building projects.
I will be answering your questions live on Hashnode AMA on 8th April at 3 PM GMT / 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET / 8:30 PM GMT.
Ask me anything about:
- Open Source
- Working from home during a pandemic
- Devlife in general and
- Other similar topics.
I've found that CS students struggle to find quality, "real-world" projects to develop their skillsets outside of school and hackathons. How do you recommend young/inexperienced devs find "real-world" projects in order to learn, grow, and gain experience?
Hey Quincy, thanks for doing this AMA.
How has this Coronavirus pandemic impacted your work and personal life balance? Are you still equally productive now as you were before? How do you think this pandemic is going to impact the developer eco-system in general?
Thanks for the question, Fazle. I'm looking forward to co-MC'ing Lockdown Conf with you on Tuesday.
I have lots of relatives in China, so we knew the pandemic was going to be bad from early on. We had been following it closely, and cautioning our family here in the US to take it seriously. We started social distancing a few weeks earlier than most Americans, and I think that helped because none of us have gotten sick.
The main change for me personally has been having my kids at home with us. This is fun, but it's a big challenge to work productively and have meetings when the kids can bust in at any minute and start singing songs or jumping on your head.
For the developer ecosystem as a whole, I think this will accelerate a lot of trends that were already taking shape: more remote work, and more pushing elements of systems to the software layer where they can be updated remotely.
This pandemic is a global tragedy, and will be a net negative for the world, but there will be a few positives that come out of it. I encourage everyone to look for those.
Award-winning Open Source DevRel Engineer ❯ Google Developers Expert ❯ Node.js foundation Community Committee Member
👋 Howdy-do, Qunicy!
Big fan of your work with FCC and previously when you had started blogging daily. Ah, the good ol' days.
That's related to my question today. #COVID19 has hit us badly, many many folks I know were laid off and others are still on the edge of it all. I wanted to ask that what in your opinion are most of the code newbies or people laid off looking for nowadays. I ask this from my own perspective of a full-time open-sourcerer and an indie maker — who wants to help. Your insights here would go a long way.
Hey Awais, Thanks for your kind words. I'm a fan of yours and your courses as well.
There are no easy answers to your question. We are putting on a free 4-hour conference next week, where we will grapple with many of the implications of the pandemic and how they will affect developer opportunities. I encourage you to come: freecodecamp.org/news/lockdownconf-free-dev..
Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours, and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?
In your opinion, what will be the top 5 essential skills that distinguish a senior dev from a junior dev and that comes from maturity over years of practice? Asking in a general sence like time estimation for a task, prioritising what to do first, etc.
Also, can you suggest some tips for growing these over the next few years.
Thank you for the AMA and everything you do for the community.
Hi Mohd, I don't think any specific skills will be the key.
I think a strong command of the fundamentals will be the key.
Learning statistics really, really well. Spending a ton of time writing different algorithms to the point where you know the main permutations, the main approaches, and why they've become so ubiquitous.
Knowing why things are the way they are so you can know when to buck conventional wisdom and take a different approach.
There's no shortcut to meaningful experience. You have to work both hard and smart for years to get on the level of the strongest engineers. But if you keep at it, and are patient and deliberate, and don't burn out, you'll get there.
I'm a B.Tech 4th year Computer Science student from India. I'm studying at a very bad College, So bad that my teachers don't even know to write algorithm for simple Linked List programs without looking at some book, they just come to class during their period to dictate notes that we(students) have to take down. I'm withering, good amount of my time is wasted in college.
I like coding but I'm not good at Mathematics, CS or anything. I'm lazy, and a super procrastinator, surf web a lot. I love to explore things. I'm very open-minded, romantic, creative, awkward, introverted and adventurous. I've made a few projects(like To-Do list for android, basic 2D platform game in Unity), so I know some coding.
I self study from various sites providing free courses. Over time, I've grown some interest in Mathematics. My dream is to pursue Research in CS. How do I move forward in life?
What do I have to do to win a Turing award?
My advice is hang in there and finish college. This isn't just a sunk cost fallacy – if you leave college mid-way you might as well have never gone, statistically.
Make the best of it, and supplement your instruction there with lots of practice projects, hackathons, and free online courses.
What projects must have a JS Developer in his/her Portfolio.
What areas do you think will have growth and which abilities/knowledge should a junior developer learn to take advantage of the areas with the highest growth.
And what makes a clases or tutorial good? Which skill must have a teacher?
Thanks un advance!
It's better to have a single, complicated project that people are actually using, and that you're actively maintaining.
In applications and interviews, I recommend leading with your strongest project.
Building tons of projects is great for practice, though. And practice is how you become a strong developer. Check this out: freecodecamp.org/news/how-i-built-100-proje..
Thanks for doing this and creating freecodecamp. Such a fantastic resource!
A lot of folks are wondering about when the Python path will make it on freecodecamp. Any news?
Hi Steve, this is the most common question people ask me.
There's the old Shigeru Miyamoto quote: "A rushed game will be forever bad. A delayed game will eventually be good."
We don't have deadlines within freeCodeCamp, but rather priorities that we consistently work toward.
Rather than giving you a firm timetable, I will say that we are close to having the certifications live, and that we are doing a staged roll-out.
In the meantime, we have tons of full-length Python courses on freeCodeCamp's YouTube :)
How many people have completed each of the certificates so far, including the Full Stack Developer certificate. Also has anyone completed all of the Coding Interview Prep Challenges yet?
I don't know the exact numbers for each of the certifications (our database has gotten so big that it often times out when I try to run such queries - definitely something we need to optimize once we get time, but we have a lot of competing priorities).
I can tell you that 10,000s of people have earned certifications, and at this point probably hundreds of people have earned the Full Stack Developer Certification that you get when you complete all 6 certifications.
Also, more than 40,000 people have gotten their first developer job after completing at least some of freeCodeCamp's curriculum.
As for the interview prep section – we started the #ProjectEuler100 certification to encourage people to get more algorithm and data structure practice. So far people have gotten far – maybe 60 problems into it. But nobody is anywhere near completing all 600+ Project Euler problems and the hundreds of Rosetta Code problems. I don't know if it's humanly possible. Maybe you or someone reading this can prove me wrong :)
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many companies have resorted to remote working as a safety precaution. For developers who have not tried this before, it has been a whole new learning process for them. What best practices have you been using that has helped you over time?
Great question, Bolaji. Thank you for your many articles over the years, and everything you're doing for the global developer community.
We published a good article by Jessica Chan a few weeks ago that encapsulates most of my advice: freecodecamp.org/news/staying-productive-in..
A lot of it is just a shift in mindset. Nobody is standing over your shoulder telling you what to do. You have to get used to keeping yourself motivated, and managing your time. It gets easier with practice.
Hey Quincy 👋
- What are some tools/sites you use/visit on a daily basis (other than freecodecamp)?
- What does your daily routine look like, now that we are all in lockdown and some productivity hacks you use (for eg: writing down things to do on the previous day)?
- Your favourite youtube channels?
Thanks for this and all that you do for the community!
Hi Vamsi, thanks for your kind words.
I try to get as many of my to-do items down on my calendar, and live by my calendar. I will assign myself tasks at the beginning of the week. Then when those tasks come up, I just drop everything and do what my calendar says.
This is a bit more work than just putting everything into a todo list, but it is more effective. (Since human nature is to focus on the quick, less ambiguous tasks first and maybe never get to the large, hard tasks.)
As for favorite YouTube channels, aside from tutorial sites, if you're interested in video games at all, I strongly recommend Game Historian. He shares the hardware and software development stories behind many of the most iconic video games.
Long time fan of FCC here.
What have been your greatest lessons from starting FCC?
If you were to start FCC over again, what would you do differently this time?
Any advice for those looking to start something similar to FCC in the future?
What does your day to day look like and how do you schedule/plan things (AKA: how do you stay productive)?
What is/was your biggest influence in starting FCC?
Hi Ryan, thanks for your kind words.
Any advice for those looking to start something similar to FCC in the future?
Yes – figure out a specific area where you think you can do better than anyone else with.
For us, it was teaching foundational web development skills.
Andrew Brown (ExamPro.co) has been eating, sleeping, and breathing AWS certifications for the past few years, and it really shows in his in-depth tutorials.
Dhawal Shah has been a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) enthusiast since the beginning (8 years ago), and he has ridden the Gartner hype cycle all the way up, down, and up again. But he's stuck with it. And now online courses are bigger than ever and all his work is paying off.
If you love headless CMS's, go super deep on that. If you love Golang, go really deep on that. Most people broaden their scope too quickly, and all their passion gets dilluted before they can really get a critical mass.
I'm a fan! Thanks for all you do for us self-learners and beyond. I have a question. I'm always trying to prioritize all the tech blogs, vlogs, tutorials and tweets. I have a backlog of great information I want to get to but I feel like I can't because I'm not done with a specific tutorial or video. Any suggestions on how find patience and stay on track? Hope you and your family continue to be safe!
My philosophy on this: I treat articles, podcasts, videos like water rushing past me. I assume that I will only get busier and busier, and if a resource isn't worth my time now, there will never be a time where it will be worth it. So I just let it flow right past, and I keep moving forward.
I used to feel guilty about not keeping up with things, or seeing an article and thinking "gee I should really read that." But now I just say to myself: maybe I'll stumble upon it again in a Google search at some point if it's really that important.
Don't feel bad about not being able to swallow the ocean. You are but one man with one belly to fill with water. It is just the nature of things.
How have you got the courage to start freecodecamp? If I wonder about doing something like tihs, it scares me a little and the same questions come always up like:
What if no one is going to like it? What if someone gets jealous and tries to undermine my work? What if I did something wrong and everyone just follows it?
I know it sounds pessimistic and that there is much more gain in it than negativity, but I am really curious how did you manage to push these thoughts away.
Thank you in advance for your response!
First of all, I was a lot older when I started freeCodeCamp. I was 34, and I had already worked as a teacher (and eventually a school director) for about 10 years.
I don't know how old you are, but I find there's this misconception that people in their 20s should be starting companies or nonprofits, and I think - sure if your parents are rich or if you went to Stanford / MIT and have lots of friends with money - go for it. But for most people, it's way too risky. You see the Mark Zuckerbergs or the world and you think: "Oh, a 22 year old college drop out can do it. It's possible. Maybe I can do it." Mark Zuckerberg was rich and his parents hired a private programming tutor for him while he was still in high school.
Far more common is for people to exhaust their resources and have to move back in with their parents.
It's much more effective to spend the first decade or two of your career working for other people, climbing into a management role, and learning on their dime.
Life is long. Your confidence will grow with time. And that confidence will be well-founded. It won't be blind hope. It will be insight informed by experience.
If you are feeling freaked out at the prospect of starting a project, you are trying to tell yourself something. Don't jump off the bridge if you don't yet know what's below the water.
Instead take your time to do lots of small experiments where you can survive failure. With planning and preparation, your odds of success go up dramatically.
Am Bello Hadi a student of applied geophysics but interested in tech.
- what inspired you to having free code camp and what makes you keep moving without putting an end to it since it is a non profit organisation.
- How tech can be implemented with entrepreneurship.
- Tips on becoming a world class developer.
- Am looking towards solving problem with code how do you think i can figure out those problem either a big one or a small one..
For tips on how to become a "world class developer" – I personally think tons of practice is the key. Solving all the Project Euler problems. Building your own operating system. Building your own compiler. Designing your own programming language. All the things computer science students dread, but some of them do put in the time to accomplish.
But that is just to be a "world class developer" who might become the head of engineering at a Fortune 500 company, or a developer at an extremely selective company like Valve, or work at CERN or DARPA.
A better path is to just take your time and actively steer your developer career in more and more technical direction as you progress. Over the course of 10 or 20 years, you can get exposed to a lot of problems and a lot of solutions. You can come out the other side a wisened sage who can solve problems on the whiteboard in a few hours that might take a team of less experienced developers weeks to figure out.
You don't have to be a world class developer to have a successful career. But software is a deep, deep field and you can spend your entire life progressing if you want to.
Any advise on negotiating salaries for a dev? The problem is, some recruiters think that a Filipino like me is worth $3/hour.
It is all situational. If I really needed the money to provide for my family, I would do pretty much anything at any hourly rate.
But if you're in a position where you can be a bit pickier, and are able to invest more time in exploring opportunities, you should.
I recommend this article by Haseeb Qureshi. He is in the US (which I think still has the highest average pay for developers in the world) but much of his advice will still be relevant in the Philippines: freecodecamp.org/news/ten-rules-for-negotia..
What do you think of companies that offer Technology Consultant roles in which you receive unpaid 8-12 week training then working a two year contract with one or two of their clients?
There are many companies with such a business model in the UK and I just wanted your thoughts.
Many thanks, Elena
Hey there Quincy! I am kinda new to python, and confused what to do, can u guide me through it, as i want to be a good developer, open source contributor, and work on several interesteing, projects, what are your insights, on these topics, and what can / should i do?
Hey Quincy, thanks for doing this AMA.
How important is it to have an audience before even launching a product? I am currently working on my project but recently started growing a Twitter audience in my free time. And I am still wondering if it's worth it to put a lot of effort into growing an audience.