Location: New York City

Background: BA in Biology, Travel & work abroad

Goals Before Thinkful: Build a portfolio and secure an internship as a Junior Developer

Post-Thinkful Results: Internship as a Junior Developer at Kapitall

About Tina

Tina moved to New York a year ago with plans to break into the tech world as a front-end web developer. With a BA in Biology from the University of Guelph in Ontario and several months of backpacking through Asia under her belt, Tina needed a way to get started with her learning. She spent more than 6 months self-teaching but found that it was a lonely process. At Thinkful, Tina set out to work collaboratively with her mentors and peers to build a portfolio and land an internship at a tech company.

Last month, Tina started at Kapitall, an online investment platform that is incorporating gaming mechanics. We caught up with Tina to ask a few questions about her experience learning to code.

Hi Tina! Tell us about your journey to developerhood.

I got interested in learning how to code when I first moved to New York. I met a handful of developers and through them, I was curious about startups and tech. I tried learning coding on my own for 6 to 8 months. It was going really slow. It wasn’t structured and with no one encouraging me, I often got sidetracked.  I mainly used Codecademy and some books.

All of my solo learning was helpful but there are so many aspects of the industry and the job that you can’t learn with a simple google search. I discovered Thinkful in December, and you guys provided the glue to put all the pieces together.  I wasn’t in the dark anymore and I had someone to guide me along.

How much time did you commit to your learning with Thinkful?

On my days off, I’d be coding. I spent all my weekends coding over the past three months, but it was really enjoyable. With HTML and CSS, it was 15 to 20 hours a week. When it came to the new stuff like Javascript, it took me a little longer to understand and build it.

What was it like working with your mentor?

I would meet up with Dan weekly and we would discuss where I am at in the course. if I needed clarification or had any questions, Dan was there to help me out and explain. For each project we did, I had to talk through my code to Dan. For me that was the hardest part of the mentorship, explaining the logic and speaking with developer terms is something that I have never done before until working with Dan. So it was a good practice, and it has definitely boosted up my confidence as a front end web developer. 

What learning tool or practice was most useful for you?

The mentorship and the paired coding was most helpful for me. Halfway through the course, I paired up with Brian, another Thinkful student, and we started doing our mentor sessions together. I realized that what was missing before — a person to talk to about my work. Though I knew people who were developers, they didn’t have time to explain in detail or go through my code. Googling questions is useful, but having another person to talk to is definitely ideal.

What’s your favorite project that you completed during your time with Thinkful?

My Instagram Project. I didn’t think I’d be able to build something like that so quickly!

What inspired the Instagram project?

I chose this project because I love to travel and I’m interested in what is happening in various cities throughout the day. For this project, I used two criteria to filter my results — #photooftheday and the location ID of the city. With the current Instagram API, you cannot search multiple hashtags or combine the hashtag and location ID into one AJAX call. So I had to create a function to make multiple AJAX calls to the Instagram server to pull up the photos.

What feedback did you receive from your mentor while working on “Photo of the Day”?

My mentor was helpful in guiding me through the design of the project. I wanted the navigation bar to be easily accessible to users when they are scrolling to the bottom of the page. My mentor suggested I use a sticky header similar to the one on TechCrunch which helped me move forward quickly and improve the design.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started as a developer?

Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are so many different ways to write code for the same task. Always ask how the function was written or why a code is structured in a particular way. That’ll give you a better understanding of the language and improve your skill.

Check out some of the projects that Tina completed during her time in Thinkful’s course:

Screenshot of Tina Luu's Redesign of for Thinkful

Tina’s redesign of one of her favorite sites:


Join our next class on June 10th to start working with a mentor of your own! Learn more about our course–including curriculum and time commitment–here

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