An Update 6 Weeks Into Bootcamp

Looking Back:

It’s been an exhausting 6 weeks full of learning and constant ‘Aha’ moments at the Coding Dojo.

I joined the cohort on March 21st, along with 12 others hoping to delve deep into coding in hopes of finding work in the end. Along the way, 12 turned into 10, turned into 9…There’s only 9 faithful people left as we enter the 7th week of the program. I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty tough, I’ve thought about giving up a few times myself but the alternative would be not having anything to go back to. You see, I quit my job of being an Analyst on March 18th so, this is really my only option; I don’t have any regrets though, I would do it all over it again in a heartbeat and wish I would have done it sooner.

At the Dojo, I am constantly challenged, there’s many things I don’t know and few that I actually do. I came into the program with some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP and MySQL but couldn’t fit all the pieces together into a program that actually made sense.

The Format:

My schedule for the past 6 weeks has been waking up at 5:15am (which I don’t mind, I’m more productive in the mornings), catching the train out to Downtown Dallas at 7:14am, arriving at the Dojo at 7:55am, settling in, morning algorithms at 8:30am, lecture at 10am, lunch at 12/12:30pm, group project in the afternoon and catch the train at 6:59pm. I get home about 7:45pm, eat and am back on my computer by 8:30pm and usually don’t get off until 10:30-11pm after which, I go to bed and repeat the next day. I’m glad I get to stay busy, I get anxious/restless when there’s nothing to do.

With a program that’s 14 weeks long and 3 stacks to learn, I’ve learned to do my best, grasp the basics and feel comfortable with it and not sweat about the things I don’t know right now. There’s so much to learn in programming there’s no way you can learn everything. We have belt exams for every stack to take everything we learn and build a site or application with it to grade our skill level.

First 2 Weeks – Web Fundamentals:

We started the first 2 weeks with web fundamentals – HTML/CSS, thinking back on it, everything we did seems so easy to execute now although at the time, it was kind of frustrating to make everything centered on the page and all the divs line up correctly…those were the good ‘ol days. In web fundamentals, you earn a yellow belt if you pass the exam. I had to take the exam a second time in the second week because of the aforementioned statement (couldn’t get my divs to line up)…I got it right the second try though; Practice does indeed make almost perfect 😉 (I got a 9.5 out of 10).

Our first stack – LAMP:

The 3rd week we started out with MySQL, I was fairly comfortable with CRUD statements so it was breeze until we started joining, not that I never heard of it, it just took more brain power to figure out which joins needed to happen when to get the data you wanted. We also started on PHP which was pretty good, I enjoyed that part. The following week we moved on toward Object oriented Programming and boy did that throw me for a loop at first only because I was still fuzzy for the marrying of PHP and MySQL together. After many group activities and assignments in the Coding Dojo platform, I understood the purpose of it. Then we moved on to using the MVC framework CodeIgniter and boy was that a bully at first. Again, I’ve heard of MVC but wasn’t sure how to the flow worked. After understanding, that the controller does most of the bossing around and model and view can never speak to one another, the only thing left to do was insert your code and make things appear on the screen. The week of our belt exam for PHP/MySQL/CodeIgniter: the instructor gathered the people who weren’t so confident in the framework to work on a project together – there ended up being 5 of us total working on a project from the platform which included: displaying a list of products, adding a product and removing the product. We all decided it was great practice to help us prepare for the exam so we gathered together the next day to work on an larger project which would take up most of the day with the instructor being available to help when needed. This project resembled the old Facebook platform in which you login, you can post messages, others can post replies to your messages and you can post messages on their page. It was pretty tough when we had to get the messages from other users to post on the person that’s logged in (the queries had to be just right to get the information you needed). It was definitely well worth taking the time out to complete as a group.

I’m going to wrap this post up here and continue on another post – Don’t want it to be too long. I hope to post more frequently since we’re starting a new stack this Monday.