Meet Our Mentors – Ricky Parada

Ricky is a freshman at Stanford University with an impressive few years of coding experience – he’s already held a fascinating robotics internship in Europe! Let’s hear a little bit about his advice for kids learning to code.

When did you start to code?

I started coding when I was 16 (junior year of HS) during my AP Computer Science course which was taught in Java. I went into this class with little to no expectations and now I can’t possibly imagine my life without coding.

Why is it important for kids to start coding when young?

I think it’s important to start coding at an early age because of its creative nature. Younger coders often explore multiple possibilities within each program while coders that start later usually stick with a single approach. Starting early also gives you much needed experience for university level coursework. Catching up on the fundamentals of coding can be a difficult task in addition to completing projects. The nice thing about coding is that it follows the snowball effect. The more you know, the easier it is to learn. So why not start early and make it easier for yourself to learn!

What advice do you have for kids learning how to code?

When you are coding, make sure you are understanding what it is you have written. If your program is doing something unexpected, comment sections of your code out piece by piece to isolate the issue. On the flip side, when writing your code, test it often as you go instead of solely at the end. This will help to minimize errors and check your code step by step. Another great strategy is to try explaining to someone without coding experience exactly what your code is doing. Explaining this gives you a deeper understanding of the code and its relation to the output.