I want to go out of scope and talk about everyday things that happen when you are attending a bootcamp, because although Bloc is a lot of coding, I do other things too.
Attend Hackathons & Win! (more on this later)
Tell My Story on Film (more on this later)
Freak Out, Fall Down & Get Back Up.
I spent this last week busy with these types of things and I would like to share the challenges I had and how I overcame those. I think people like a story, but they like a story where there is struggle with a win in the end and that was my week.
I had my first “give up” moment this week and it scared the bejeeezus out of me. What freaked me out so much? Codewars did. Codewars is a bank of coding word problems where you can chose the language you want to code in and solve the problem. Some of the code word problems at Codewars are the ever popular Fizz Buzz, writing a program that extracts repeating characters in a string, and other things that by now I should know how to do but I don’t.
When I realised that I didn’t know how to begin to solve these tests after almost 4 years of coding, I lost it.
I started thinking “Am I really cut out for this?” I mean 12 year olds can solve these codewars but I can’t even figure out how to iterate (ie: loop) over an array and pull out how many times the same character repeats itself. As I went through the problem step by step with my mentor I felt even more out of it. ‘My poor Bloc mentor’, I thought to myself. Funny thing is, he kept telling me, this isn’t as easy as you think it is and that is why we are doing this. together. I wanted to give up so badly you guys! Giving up is so easy, it’s like nope, I give up, sorry not sorry -the end. And I thought, what happens after I give up? What do I tell my friends, my supporters, my family? After being terrified of that option, I knew that this was not an option. Point being, and as cliche as it may sound, never, ever give up.
Yes, I had to be walked through a logic problem on Codewars with my mentor holding my hand the whole way, BUT, I was super grateful that he was there to do it, and even more, that he too was googling ways to solve the problem and he has 21 years of coding experience under his belt. It made me feel better that no matter how experienced you are, coding logic isn’t just something you are born with. I once told a friend, if I wasn’t good at a sport, or a musical instrument right when I started that I would just throw in the towel and do something else. That was the 14 year old me, I am well over the age of 14 so I need to be WELL over this habit.
Struggling with concepts outside of the platform of a bootcamp is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, and I DO love a good challenge.
In addition to the programming logic challenges of Codewars, I also attended Developer Week 2016 SF Hackathon. This was the first time in 15 hackathons where I truly felt that I could contribute to the back/front end code, thanks to what I have learned at Bloc. Most of my real world learning prior to bootcamp was in the hackathon arena. That said, I struggled again with feeling like I wasn’t doing my part, but this time, I struggled not with coding but with setting up a collaborative environment to contribute my code. This was not because I didn’t know what I was doing, because GitHub is my best friend at Bloc, but because I was still SCARED to commit to git master and break our app. That is my own dumb fault. Lesson here is, go for it! Have the confidence that you know what you are doing and just do it!
Finally, this week I was part of an incredible project at Coursera called “Learner’s Story”. Last year I was approached by Coursera to tell my story on their blog and 2 weeks ago I was asked if I would like to tell my story on camera as part of a Learner’s Story Series that Coursera was producing.
Every cell in my body wanted to say ‘NO, absolutely NOT comfortable being on camera’ and then someone possessed my brain and called the producers back and said “YES, of course I will do it! I would be honored to be a part of your project” WHAT JUST HAPPENED!! Well, what happened was, I am sticking to my New Year’s Resolution of doing everything and anything that is out of my comfort zone to see how that feels.
So, I ended up inviting an award winning film crew to my 300 SQ FT studio for 2 days, to film me talking about my journey with the underlying theme of how to inspire others. It was exhausting, embarrassing, invasive, scary, fun, amazing and strange-but I did it!
So, take-aways for this week at Bloc are to remember that when you are in a Bootcamp for programming, you aren’t doing this in a bubble. You need to know how to program outside of that platform and this includes being able to collaborate with other team members at a hackathon, understanding how to logically write basic programs like array counters and fizzbuzz, as irrelevant as those codewars may seem in the moment, and try and always do things that scare you because the reward at the end of that task is priceless!
What is completely out of your comfort zone? What are you not that great at that you would like to do better? What is a story you have where you were struggling but ended up winning in the end? Let me know in the comments.
Why Can’t Programmers Program?