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 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.
Confidence: I am a junior developer, which means that I have learned about 1% thus far of what there is to know about computer programming. Still, there are several things that I can now contribute to a project! Going from never having so much as written a simple HTML form to building apps (albeit simple ones) in the MEAN Stack within 8 week has been a bumpy, but satisfying ride. Development in general is a field that requires constant learning to stay up to date. This is one of the things I love about it and exactly what keeps me motivated to keep learning! After all, not being able to do something is a lot better than not having the confidence to learn how to do it.
Refactoring: We have been working on project as a group for a large telecommunications company that is due on Thursday to the client. As one may assume, this requires a LOT of double-checking, error-hunting, and bug-fixing. Programmers call this process ‘refactoring’ and it has been blessing for me in that it gives me the opportunity to review what we have done and make sure I understand it. I’ve probably learned more while refactoring than I have in an actual lecture!
Getting Back into the World: My isolation during my learning time has been very much self-imposed. I did it because I needed to focus, and it isn’t a decision that I regret at all. However, now that the core learning process (at this particular bootcamp, at least) is ending, its pretty nice to start breaking free of Stockholm Syndrome and getting back in touch with my friends and the outside world! I’ve been talking to new people during the job search and am getting ready to go see more of the Bay Area!
Cover Letters: Anybody who knows me knows that I love writing. Blog articles, fiction, nonfiction – I write everything, and I really enjoy it. Unfortunately this does not carry over to writing cover letters. Traditional cover letters seem plastic and void of personality, but writing one with ‘too much personality’ looks unprofessional. Getting the right tone down for the right company is basically a guessing game, and figuring out which companies want ‘buzzwords’ and which don’t is practically impossible. So basically, the chances of winning at writing any given cover letter is very slim. Being in the middle of a job search, however, I get to write several cover letters a day. Yay…on the bright side, at least I get to write something every day!
Giving up the Marketing: I moved into development after spending some time as a Digital Marketing Consultant, so pretty much all my work history and internships thus far (yes, I am fresh out of college so there isn’t a ton of it) is in business and marketing. Getting rid of these things from my resume has been painful – almost like I’m erasing four years of hard work. Luckily, I can retain a few things since several Digital Marketing skills are actually relevant to development – but the sheer amount work that must be deleted is awful!
Project Crunch Time: For those of your who have been reading this series for the past several weeks, you know that I have been working on several personal projects – including myCard. You also know that I love working on my own on these projects and value this time as some of the best learning opportunities I’ve had. However, being rushed to finish is never fun! Fact is, I need to really begin building a portfolio and there isn’t much time left to get it done if I want a somewhat nice one before leaving the bootcamp, but rushing to get it done is still a frustrating process! Check on me in two weeks to see if the final product was worth the hard work – hint: it probably will be!
Craigslist: I come from the Midwest where Craigslist is not generally what one trusts to find an apartment or job. Apparently, its perfectly trustworthy here in the Bay Area, though! Several people have suggested I get on with my job search on Craigslist…which has been pretty awesome. Learning something new every day!
Caffeine Overload: I am overloaded on caffeine. This is something I plan to completely get rid of after the end of my 9 Weeks here, so the process of detaching myself has begun. Surprisingly enough, I’m not crankier or more tired than usual as a result – in fact, its amazing how much better I feel. True, I get tired earlier, but I guess going to bed by midnight instead of 3 AM is more a good thing than a bad one.
- Be confident in whatever you do! Not being able to do something is not nearly as bad as not having the confidence to learn how to do it.
- Cover letters have always sucked and will continue to do so regardless of the industry in which you are applying for jobs. Get used to it.
- If you live in the Bay Area, Craiglist is awesome! Make it your best friend!