Last summer I took a big risk and decided to dive into a full-time software engineering program at the Flatiron School. I had been interested in web development for a while but had very little experience with actual coding. I had saved up enough money to be able to leave my yoga teaching and non-profit jobs behind to embark fully on this five-month journey.
Five months later, I can whole-heartedly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was incredibly challenging and I was forced to push myself harder than I ever have, but with that came an illuminating experience of self-empowerment. Besides gaining the skills and knowledge to confidently navigate five different programming languages, there were a handful of personal lessons that I learned while in coding bootcamp.
If you’re considering applying for a bootcamp and living off of beans and rice for five months in order to pay for it, do it. In addition to being an incredible way to shift your career path and discover something you love doing, bootcamp will provide you an experience of self-growth unlike any other.
This was a big one for me just two weeks into Flatiron’s Software Engineering program. The first two weeks of the program are something they call ‘The First Mile’ it is meant to be a rigorous two weeks to prepare you mentally for what is to come. It’s like walking into your French class as a new student but the teachers are only speaking to you in French and you have absolutely no idea what they are saying. I was instantly overwhelmed and felt like everyone was lightyears beyond my skillset. It was one of the most challenging periods of coding bootcamp for me. It was a lesson in self-compassion. I had remind myself that I was learning an entirely new language! That it was ok to ask for help! In the middle of week two I decided to reach out to a couple other students in my cohort to see how they were feeling. To my surprise, they felt the intensity and overwhelm just as much as I did. It felt reassuring that we were in this together and helped me be a little easier on myself. I was reminded that we were all just learning this for the first time; that there is always a learning curve with anything new, and that eventually, (hopefully!!!) it would click.
This was one of the messages I programmed into one of my many iphone alarms. It would go off every morning at six a.m. to remind me to believe that I could complete what I had started. Self-doubt is something I have come up against time and time again throughout my life. And though I started to feel it creeping up on me in a coding lab or project week, it never derailed me. I attribute that to the fact that there just isn’t much time to question yourself in a coding bootcamp. One of the benefits of having 50+ hours of your week dedicated to coding is that there isn’t much time for anything else, including comparing yourself to others. In my experience, I didn’t have the capacity to entertain those pesky inklings of self-doubt because I knew that I had to stay on track, which meant completing x amount of labs that day. You have to keep going. And at the end of the day or week, when you make it through the number of labs you had set out to accomplish you get to look back and revel in that achievement.
The Ability to Learn From Anyone and Everyone
The Flatiron School program really stressed the fact that even if you’ve been working for years as a developer, there will still be things you run into that you don’t know. Becoming comfortable googling questions to issues I was having a pouring over the official Active Record documentation gave me a whole new universe of teachers! The coding community is immensely generous, you can find a youtube video demo on almost anything! I can’t remember the last time I watched a youtube video to actually learn something. Once I realized that the world was full of resources, I felt so much more supported in my learning journey.
It is the most thrilling feeling to build a web application that functions like it’s supposed to!! It is so exciting to be able to fix a bug in your code and even more exciting to be able to look at someone else’s code and fix their bug! Reviewing something that you built with your own nimble fingers and creative imagination is such a wonderful feeling. Seeing my very first project completed made me feel like I could do anything I put my mind to.
I’m so grateful for all the skills I learned in my time at coding bootcamp, but especially thankful that I was fortunate enough to have such a transformative personal experience.
Originally published at https://dev.to on February 8, 2021.