What I wish I knew when I started at Brown
Below are a few great resources I’ve collected over my time at Brown that I wish someone had shared with me at the start of my freshman year of college, so I’m going to do that for you.
Hackathons are an amazing way to find time to build projects during the school year, to meet new amazing ambitious talented people from all over the world and to learn new skills (and they are almost always free, and often pay for flights/transportation). Basically, you meet cool people, form a team, and build something over 24-48 hours. Sadly, registration for some hackathons that will take place fall semester closes before the school year even starts so you should register now, that way you won’t miss out later. Some upcoming hackathons include: Yale’s Hackathon (in my opinion this is one of the best organized hackathons in the world), Harvard’s Hackathon, Dartmouth’s Hackathon, Startup Weekend Providence Education. Here is a constantly updated list of Hackathons. Hack@Brown, which is awesome, happens in the spring. Also checkout Startup@Brown, an awesome startup event at Brown that happens in October.
I did my first 5 hackathons without knowing how to code. I’d show up with an idea, get a team together, architect the user experiance, figure out what features to include, and write the pitch. Then I decided that I’d had enough and it was time to learn to code myself and spent the next 2–3 hackathons just learning. Hackathons are great places to learn how to code: There are great workshops at most hackathons, a lot of mentors, and most participants are more than willing to stop what they are doing to help you if you are trying to learn.
The 4 Hour Workweek is hands down the best resource for entrepreneurs I have ever come across. It is incredibly empowering and useful and will give you a lot of great stuff to think about. It made me much more productive and efficient. For more recommendations of great books go here.
If you are not using it yet, checkout Audible (get 2 free books here). If you are an auditory learner there is no better way to consume books. You can listen to audiobooks while walking to class, while cleaning your room, at the gym, on a plane, or in the car etc. and if you listen at double speed you can get through books at half the time. Last year, I listened to 791 hours of audio with Audible’s app (the equivalent of the first Harry Potter book 98 times) I could not recommend Audible more.
Learning to build iPhone apps is an invaluable skill that there is a HUGE demand for in the tech industry. It is incredibly empowering whether you are a developer or an entrepreneur. It is not too difficult to learn, just takes a bit of dedicated time. As an entrepreneur, being able to build the first version of your product by yourself allows you to move so much faster. In addition, it gives you a really strong safety blanket, since you can easily charge $30–$180/hour as an iOS developer.
This course (by Rob Percival on Udemy) is the best course I’ve found for learning how to make iPhone Apps. It teaches you how to build 19 projects starting with ‘Hello World’ and finishing with clones of Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, and Uber. I finished this course in one Winter Break by dedicating 2–3 days a week to it. If you want to learn to build websites, this course by the same guy is also amazing.
I can’t stress how useful learning how to make websites and iPhone apps is as an entrepreneur. It gives you so much power. Several of my friends with zero past computer science experience have taken this course successfully and got a ton out of it. It’s a GREAT introduction to computer science for beginners.
*Be aware that Udemy releases coupon codes every few weeks, just google “Udemy Coupon” to find one. You should never need to pay more than $20 for a Udemy course.
In the case that you don’t think you will have the discipline to finish an online course by yourself, Coding Bootcamps are a thing that exist over the summer and can turbo charge your learning. Most of these have scholarship programs, so if you are on financial aid at Brown, it is likely that you can get either the full amount, or at least, a large portion of the cost for a coding bootcamp waived. An incredible summer education I would highly recommend for learning iPhone App Development is Make School. How do I know Make School is good? I taught there last summer. My students started the summer without coding experiance, for the most part, and finished the summer having built and shipped their own iPhone apps to the app store.
I recommend learning to use Sketch or AdobeXD. These are awesome programs for designing websites/apps. You can learn these tools quickly and being able to design will benefit you a ton when building things.
Another awesome software, Figma (founded by a Brown student), lets you use version control, is easier to share, and is web based. They will be fully launching soon, so sign up for the waitlist.
The faster and more efficient you are at using your computer while working on projects, the more you will get done. Here is a list of the tools and shortcuts I’ve collected over my time at Brown, that now, I could never live without .
If you do use any of these resources let me know and I’ll give you more tips of how to make the best of each.