Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer
In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp called Coding House in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.
3 Highs: Practice means Progress!
Learning Made Easy: Okay, this is kind of misleading – learning to code without any background in programming is not in any way easy. Getting used to the daily regimen and long hours, however, makes it easier to focus and learn for longer hours without zoning out. The constant feeling of never being able to completely catch up is inherent to a boot camp, but it has been a whole lot easier to work with since I’ve physically fallen (more) in sync with the schedule.
Seeing Results: It is also been extremely helpful to set mini goals. Everyone learns in different ways and at different paces, which becomes very important to keep in mind in such an intensive learning environment. Recently, I’ve been taking what the instructor is teaching as a relative syllabus rather than forcing myself to try to learn things at his pace. It helps to note down the topics and terms that are mentioned during lectures and then spending the evenings re-learning them on my own at my own pace by setting personal mini goals(sometimes even allowing some material to spill over to the next few days). I’ve actually been able to retain and successfully use more information this way over the past week.
Building Stuff! Considering the fact that I’ve only been here at Coding House for 2 weeks and only looked into programming for a few weeks before that, I am no expert any any language quite yet. During my HTML/CSS preparation before coming here, though, what I did learn was a result of using the tools to actually build a website. In the few bouts of free time I have (often giving up social interaction for it), I’ve taken on a few side projects to help me pick up more material in a short span of time. For example, I’m currently working on creating a simple single-page website for an international charity I’ve been involved with for a few years. The site itself is very small, but I’ve been trying to include some interesting features and plug-ins to get some practice in with front end development. It can be tiring at times to spend even my free time working, but seeing what I’ve learned in such a short amount of time turn into a viable product has been absolutely worth it. Not only does it serve as encouragement, but I can also add these things to my currently sparse development portfolio.
3 Lows: The Case of the Missing Time Turner
The Command Line: Using the command line has been…frustrating to say the least. The command line is an interface that allows users to literally command everything on the computer from a single window. For someone who has never used it before, though, it looks like a load of Gibberish. Don’t get me wrong – the command line is a powerful and useful tool once you learn how to use it properly. The issue is the ‘learning to use it’ part, though. The tool literally requires its own language which simply calls for a whole lot of memorization and understanding of hierarchies. It hasn’t necessarily been difficult to learn, just extraordinarily time consuming. I’m looking forward to becoming capable of using it quickly, though – it makes it a lot easier to search through files and organize.
The Never-Ending To-Do List: Like I mentioned above, the feeling of never being able to catch up is inherent to a bootcamp. The entire point is to glean huge amounts of information in a short amount of time. Making mini goals has certainly helped organize things for me, but the list of said goals seems to get longer faster than I can check items off. Its like that dream where you are running toward something and can never seem to get there – except less creepy and unfortunate. The Never-Ending To-Do list is less characteristic of a programming bootcamp and more a usual component of life in the real world. Preparation is key!
Lack of Time Turner: No, seriously. I would pay a whole lot of money for Hermione’s time turner right about now. I’m here for 60 days and have made every effort to spend as much of my time as possible learning, but there still isn’t enough to do everything I want to while I still have access to the teachers and resources that make the learning process so much easier.
The Immersion: Kudos for Kung Pao
Camping: We capped this week off with a camping trip to the Redwoods as a team bonding event. We played Airsoft and other games, which were a lot of fun. Then it got dark. And cold. And I needed a toilet (which – surprise! – didn’t exist). And lets just say I’m a city girl. Being so out of my element was a good experience, though. Learning to deal with discomfort is a pretty solid life skill.
Dining with Developers: Sarah (our Food Service Director) put together some pretty awesome meals that definitely provided some bright spots whenever I got stuck debugging! I’ve been extremely homesick for my mom’s home-cooked Indian meals lately, so seeing Indian stews and spices popping up has been amazing. Plus, we had some awesome Kung Pao chicken this week. Not having to worry about cooking and groceries is a huge plus when there’s so little time to learn so much – kudos to Sarah for making life a bit easier at Coding House!
Stockholm Syndrome: Usually, I’m the kind of person who gets extremely irritated if I don’t get to leave the house and have a change of scenery at all for a full day. I’ve been going days without setting foot outside here, though, and the kick is that I don’t mind that at all. I definitely could take breaks and go out for a bit if I wanted to, but I’ve been more interested in figuring the next problem out or designing my next project so it hasn’t bothered me at all. Stockholm syndrome setting in?
- Don’t beat yourself up over falling behind the instructor’s pace. Instead, create your own mini goals and work toward fulfilling them on your own time.
- Build something! The fastest way to learn something is to throw yourself into the deep end and make it work. Programming is no different.
- It is never too early to begin putting together your portfolio.
- Choose Coding House for the food!