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First Steps

Joseph Huang

In my previous post, I talked a bit about how important it is for you to keep developing yourself (i.e. moving forward) even if you’re feeling like everything you do is useless.

Last time I left off, I was just about to take my first steps into the world of tutoring. So what happened?

First Steps:

So, I thought I could make more money by teaching people in computer science. Simple things like console programming in C++ and Java. I posted an advertisement on a C++ forum site for free and waited eagerly for the swarm of students who would begin to contact me.

In two days, someone had reached out to me – my first student ever! We connected online and I gave him an introduction to the world of C++ programming. He paid me around $20.00 online and scheduled a follow-up session.

The next day, I was ready to go. I sat down in front of my computer, launched the web browser, logged into my gmail account and scrolled through my emails. Then I saw it. The student had emailed me to cancel his session. Personal things had gotten in the way and he didn’t see himself as being able to venture into learning programming.

I wished him well, but deep down, I was disheartened. I had procured a client and lost him within a day; though it was through no fault of my own. Can you imagine this? Having hope for a day and reality setting in the next morning? But, the funny thing is this: have enough hope and you can change your reality.

Building Foundations:

I decided to take the whole thing as a learning experience – I’m one of those people who refuse to say “I failed” and even if I do say that phrase, I’ll be sure to add in a “but…”.

So, I realized that there was a lot I had to do before I tried taking on another client. For one thing, I had gone in empty-handed. I had not prepared any materials beforehand, just a few hand-scribbled notes to get me through the session. I had not tried to post things online, as a way of validating my experience in the eyes of online users. I had nothing.

I asked myself what I could do right away. What things could I try my hand at to get myself to the point where I could attract and keep students?

So, over the next few months, I started trying new things – “the shotgun approach” as I liked to call it. I tried everything and did everything that my mind could possibly make up. One day, I’d be creating handouts on topics that I wanted to tutor. Another day, I’d be posting code snippets as well as answers on various online forums. And some days, I’d just be sharpening my skills by reading books on programming.

In short, I kept myself busy every moment with things I could do and had control over.

After a year, I had made some small progress. It was nothing major, nothing life-changing, but I had learned things. To me, this was the important part of the journey: learning new things. I felt that I was ready to try my hand again at tutoring and posted another advertisement out. This time, I added in a few links to my forum posts and code snippets.

This time, things worked out differently. I was inundated with clients from the get-go. Many of them were apprehensive of learning programming online but after the first session or two, their fears would be gone. I knew what I was doing and I was doing it properly without taking any shortcuts. My hard work had paid off and I was able to move forward.

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