Coding boot camps started popping up on both coasts around 2011. I’ve always been intrigued yet it never seemed like the right time. When I moved from Los Angeles back to my hometown of Omaha in 2014 I was more than happy to discover a couple code schools had sprouted up in the Silicon Prairie. One of them – Interface – instantly caught my attention because it offered classes scheduled outside the normal work day.
I’ve wanted to push my coding knowledge into overdrive and focus on front-end development for years and Interface’s PHP, MySQL and WordPress course (sponsored by Flywheel) ended up being the perfect opportunity to kick off that adventure. So, here I am!
Preparing for the course and diving in
I have some experience in web design and development, learning on the fly in years past, studying online and soaking up knowledge from friends and coworkers. I love the craft and want to fill in the gaps, expand on my skills and have a deep understanding of the fundamentals. Despite some familiarity going into the course, I knew I had a lot to learn.
Now two weeks in, I’m happy to report I’ve already learned a ton. I’m comfortable admitting humble pie has been eaten and, guess what? It feels great. It means progress is being made, it proves that I can build on existing skills and lift off into a future of web development…quickly.
What’s been covered so far
Thus far we’ve focused on HTML, CSS and the foundations of the web. Added to the mix have been lessons on the tools and tricks of the trade that might otherwise go overlooked and are, I think, crucial to understanding the web development ecosystem including Sublime Text, Chrome Dev Tools, Slack, agile project management and much more.
Class assignments have included creating “pens” on CodePen, working through free interactive courses on Codecademy, diving into FlexBox and planning the site we want to build as a final project. We’ve also been introduced to a ton of free developer resources online that we can explore for kicks or fully embrace as tools to boost our pace of learning.
Learning coding by connecting and collaborating
It’s exhilarating and/or overwhelming to appreciate that everything we could ever hope to learn about programming exists for free, in one way or another, on the vast treasure trove of information that is the internet. But…where do I start? What languages do I need to learn?! Where do I find the time?!? Frequently-asked-questions of the tech-inspired masses.
This is where the in-person element comes into play, the curation of a course; knowledge being shared from one person to the next in real time, industry insights and coding wisdom being dished out both directly in lecture and indirectly in conversation and practice. It’s all too easy to dismiss what the first two weeks in the course have reminded me:
More often than not, mental sparks flying and “aha moments” are a result of questions that come up.
Someone will ask a question about CSS syntax that I hadn’t considered, or I see something happen on my neighbor’s screen that I’ve been trying to figure out and it kicks off a conversation and mental breakthrough. At least a couple times every class our instructor, Josh Collinsworth, shares an anecdote relating to his own experience and it will end up solidifying a concept I was struggling to wrap my head around.
Reflecting and setting goals for the course
In short, I’m really psyched to be doing this. I’m meeting some great people, class size seems just right (12), being in Flywheel’s office 3x/week is rad, I’m learning a lot, learning quickly and already getting to apply new skills.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.”
— Maya Angelou
Exactly. Time to learn, time to code, time to thrive. As with most things in life, what you put into something is what you get out of it. I’m planning on putting in as much energy and enthusiasm as I can and looking forward to having fun with it and seeing where this takes me.
The first of many posts…
Every week from here on out I’m going to be writing a bit about my thoughts and experience in the course. Can’t wait to share more. Feel free to reach out on Twitter, it would be great to hear from anybody who has questions or just wants to say hi!