Jyrone Parker is a developer, entrepreneur and Youtuber who caught my attention recently. I talked to Jyrone about what drives him to succeed. He has been coding from a young age and taught himself programming well before university.
Hey, thanks a lot for doing the interview! Could you give an introduction for coders who want to know more about you?
I believe you started programming when you were 8? What got you interested so early on?
Funny story. So my mom was going to college for a B.S. in Information Technology and as part of her curriculum she had to take some programming classes. Anyway I had done something bad, I don’t remember what exactly, but my punishment was to clean the bookshelf. Being the brat that I was I proceeded to knock off the books from the shelf and guess what landed on top? Dietel & Dietel's Java: How To Program.
At the time I had a 12th grade reading comprehension and we already had the computer with Java installed. I taught myself Java in about a year, after that I taught myself C++ and it was pretty much learning a language a year. My father was incarcerated at the time. He was in for 22 years from the time I was 2 until I was 24, and he was a huge catalyst for my autodidactism.
He would use his commissary money to get me subscriptions to Popular Science and Wired magazine. These publications kept me hungry to get my hands on the latest technology and I would always explain to him what I’m learning and he would do the same. He won’t admit it but he knows quite a bit of computer science himself.
Lastly, my step-father (my brother’s dad) is from Oakland, California and is in IT himself. He fostered my love of hardware and networking. Some of my fondest memories are of him and I taking apart and upgrading hardware.
Do you have any tips for people that want to improve their coding skills?
Break shit and fix it. Don’t be afraid of messing up, that’s how you learn. Being a coder is like being a Saiyan, every battle makes you stronger. Each time you come to a coding problem, that is a mental battle. You already have the skills needed to solve every problem that comes your way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those who have seen and conquered the problem before. Also think unconventionally, the solution you come up with may be the most optimal solution. Don’t have anything to break? Go to Github find a project you think is cool, and go to town.
How did you get your first paid work as a developer when you were a youth?
Back in the good ol’ MySpace days ya boy was cold at the layout game. I was doing custom HTML/CSS layouts for my friends who rapped for free. One day some random dude in my neighborhood came up to me with $20 and asked if I could make him one right now. Took me 30 minutes and I was like “I just made $40 an hour”. From then on I only took paid clients (apart from the homies).
What are the differences you’ve witnessed about the web development learning options since you were a child?
Something I noticed about web development options since I was a child was an increase in open source meetups and conferences. As much as I love reading and watching YouTube videos, nothing can replace face to face communication. I would have loved going to meetups/conferences as a child and young teen and talk with senior engineers. Not only to develop my craft, but to see how to carry myself as a professional in my field.
Was there anything in particular that motivated you to learn coding?
So back to the bookshelf incident. When I was reading the book they talked about people who wrote code and made companies that make bookoos of money. I also found out people use “programming” to create video games and I wanted to make games. In my 8 year old mind I was going to write and sell a game so I could take care of my mom and brother and get my father out of prison.
I know you dropped out of your CS degree. Can you tell us about that and moving to Silicon Valley?
College did not challenge me at all. I was running my company J Computer Solutions, travelling and writing software. I missed class to go make money. I got married the summer before my senior year and by the beginning of that semester I had a baby on the way. It didn’t make sense to me to keep going to school when I was already working in my field and I had a child on the way.
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Can you tell us what a typical day for you looks like just now?
I run everything from home now, whether I am doing client work, recording for my YouTube channel, blogging or teaching. I go to a lot of meetups and conferences. I have designated work hours that I split up so I don’t have one work block. As long as I have my laptop and a hotspot I can really work anywhere. On Thursdays and Fridays I teach virtual coding classes for children and adults.
Outside of tech I do a lot of exercise I try to do 1-3 miles of walking/jogging a day. I am a music lover so I write a lot of lyrics and I am a violinist. After I finish my last work block I might go out and play pool, bowling or go skating.
Can you tell us about any side projects you have?
I have a startup that launched in Louisville, KY called Treat Me At Home that is taking up most of my free time. It is a SAAS app that connects service providers with those who want those services performed at home. So let’s say you wanted a massage, a private tutor and a personal fitness trainer all in one afternoon, you could get all those in one platform. I also run a blog that focuses on tech and entrepreneurship and sell courses on various coding related topics as well as my #CodeLife merch. Lastly, I run a YouTube channel where I do a vlog called #CodeLife and I do live coding.