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.

My Web Developer Story

In the beginning, I had a Macintosh Apple computer when I was elementary school, I played games on it mostly until we got dial up internet. I was enamored by the fact that I could talk to people that were around the globe and utilize the web. Further along in life, while in college, I was trying to figure out what to major in and decided to go along with Business Management based on the fact that since my parents owned their own business that I should at least know how to manage one for the future.

While taking one of my business classes, an intro MIS course, which consisted of learning Microsoft Excel, Access and Powerpoint, I was introduced to the idea that I could major in MIS, at the time I had no idea what it was and I was not really interested in changing my major. About a year later, I was apart the Relay for Life organization at my university where one of our members was in charge of updating the website…I was intrigued and she told me more about what she was majoring in, which was MIS. Her advice was to talk to the head of the department and find out if I was interested. During my visit with the head of the department, I was advised to take a summer course at a local community college to see if the field would be of interest to me. I did so and took my first Visual Basic C++ course; I loved the fact that I could see instant results of what I created. Most of my projects where arithmetic related but it was awesome to see that there was a language I could program on a computer with to make these results appear. I returned the following fall semester ready to change my major to MIS and in doing so was required to take a mix of Computer Science and business courses.

I struggled along in my data structures course, but managed to make it through. I was beginning to wonder if I should throw in the towel; in the end, I liked the industry as a whole enough that I would muddle through it until I figured it out.

In the following semester, I was taking several courses in PHP and MySQL and I thoroughly enjoyed the information presented and doing projects in those courses.

Query from ProjectI believe it had something to do with the fact that I was able to print data from a database onto a webpage. At any rate, I also took a course which introduced me to Microsoft Frontpage which I used to make a web site for my parents business (newly updated at tandtenterprises.net).

As my college days were winding down, I took a course in HTML/CSS which was I found really refreshing because I could open up a blank text document and start writing HTML/CSS that would eventually be available for the world to see.

First HTML/CSS Site

My senior year, I took my final MIS course which consisted of our class learning ASP.Net to build a website for a nonprofit organization that needed a website to showcase the steps a high school student should complete in order to get into college. I enjoyed the entire process: creating themes on poster board and sharing it with the team, helping to create the CSS and finally each of us coded a page for the site; we shared our results with a couple reps from the nonprofit organization. The project was meant to be sort of like a mockup; we started it and other people would continue to build on what was started with.

Plan for AJX Non Profit Site Senior Project

All in all, I enjoyed my journey into web development, after college, I assumed I would just get a job in tech and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, the jobs I did land, had nothing to do with me programming and I figured out that I need more experience than I had in order to be in the career I wanted. In 2014, I decided I would turn things around for myself: I joined meetups geared towards web development, I setup and created my own website and towards the end of the year, I had a couple interviews but sadly received no offer. This year, I decided to give my website a face lift going through the design and development process and after taking breaks from meetups, I decided to start back up again and am thoroughly enjoying it.

I’m currently enhancing my bootstrap skills; I am going through the book called Step By Step Bootstrap to develop using a framework. I plan on using the skills I learn to redo the Kerala Association website (a nonprofit I created a mockup site for).

I’ve also been delving into the design process more and have been going through some Photoshop lessons to challenge myself to take a PSD to HTML.

All in all, things are looking up for me and I hope to join the many in the tech industry as a Web Developer soon!