Dev Bootcamp: Phase 2, Week 1

Monday, 6:44 PM - New Beginings

Today was spectacular for a number of reasons. Let me enumerate them for you:

  1. New people! Having new faces in the space was exciting and refreshing.
  2. The material. I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that I absolutely love what we’re working on. That being said, my brain feels as though it’s been put through the ringer. We’re learning A LOT of new things, all at once.
  3. Our instructor is … I love our phase guide. He’s hilarious as well as full of history trivia and life wisdom. He reminds me a little of this guy.

We learned a lot about networking today (the computer kind, not the chit-chat kind). Even with my fancy engineering degree, it’s a struggle to keep up. Right now we’re working on ‘clearing away the rust’. Today was a great day. Tomorrow will probably be a great day. Let’s ride this wave!

Also, I built an anagram generator (woo!). For Phase 2, we’re moving from algorithm-centric challenges to a more project-based curriculum. It’s an exciting shift, if a bit intimidating.

Meta-learning moment of the day:

I had a moment today where I was completely intimidated by the task in front of me. I realized what was happening, and said it out loud a few times to different people. I.e. “I’m really intimidated by this challenge. It doesn’t make much sense to me right now.” It helped to verbally acknowledge what was happening. Then I asked a coach for help with a specific question, (also telling him that I was feeling intimidated) and he ended up walking me through the problem. I still don’t have 100% comprehension of the assignment, or even 60% comprehension, but the problem doesn’t scare me anymore. In fact, the complexity interests me. I want to learn how all the parts and pieces fit together. I have faith in my instructors and in myself that by the time I leave here (and possibly in as soon as the next few days), I will understand. The point of this example is that it’s flipping difficult to learn new stuff while stuck in “omg there’s no way I’m going to figure this out.” Shifting perspective can take a lot of the pressure off.

Tuesday, 10:33 PM - Welcome to Bedlam

Oh god. Day 2. This program is nuts. Completely nuts.

I think I learned a new thing every other minute, just about. There was very little time today I felt like I ‘got it’. They threw us into the fire, and told us to relax about it, to trust them, and I do! That’s the crazy part. I totally trust my teachers and my guides. I’m learning new things at a snail’s pace, but we don’t stop moving. It’s crazy. I have no idea what day it is anymore, it’s just work, work, work, work, sleep, eat, then more work. I’m enjoying it. Never a dull moment.

We learned Sinatra, some more Networking, and REST. I’m not 100% clear on what REST is, perhaps a naming convention? Edit: REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. It’s a philosophical concept used to describe HTTP routing. The basic idea is that you use a combination of VERB and URL, instead of the URL alone, to request webpages. This way, the same URL, when used with a different verb (such as GET, PUT, POST, DELETE), will get you to a different page. This makes for cleaner, shorter URLs, and is particularly adapted to CRUD applications, which most web apps are. (JRL, stackoverflow)

Wednesday, 3:00 PM - Making Sense Yet?

I learned today that DBC blacklists companies that aren’t good to our grads. It is a comfort to know that even after I graduate, these people will still have my back. I will always belong to to these people, and to this place, long after I have gone.

I have no idea what else happened during the day on Wednesday - I didn’t have time to blog. I was eyeballs-deep in Sinatra and RESTful routing, late into the evening. For a while I was stuck sort of knowing that I didn’t know what I should know. I learned last week that if I just keep my head in the problem for long enough, my brain starts to make sense of it all. At the end of the day, it was all still a jumbled mess. It started to gel on Thursday morning. Count them - three full days of not understanding what the heck is going on before the concepts started to come together for me. I have heard that DBC hires typically take far less time than traditional CS grads to come up to speed at a new job. Perhaps this is because we have learned how to learn in a pseudo-joblike environment.

Speaking of metalearning, when I’m tired, learning becomes incredibly difficult. I’m slower, and oddly prone to despair. I start comparing myself to other, less tired folks, and deciding that I’m a worthless human being in comparison. No bueno.

Thursday, 5:07 PM - It’s Making Sense!!

I’m exhausted, but I finally feel ‘caught-up’. We had the mother of all EE’s yesterday. Afterwards, I dived into my work as a means of numbing my emotions and ended up working late into the evening. As to what happened in the EE … you’ll never hear it from me. We operate on the Vegas principle - what happens in EE stays in EE. Suffice it to say that it was an emotionally taxing, uniquely rewarding, team-building / personal growth experience.

We’re learning how to build webapps. We’re doing this by building webapps. Surprise!

Hey world, guess what, I know how to build basic webapps. Stay tuned, by the end of the week, I may even be good at it.

Friday, 10:04 AM - So Busy That It Feels Normal

I have this nagging worry/fear that I won’t enjoy a job in tech. I’m enjoying my experience at DBC a whole lot, but I don’t expect that a job could possibly be as fun or engaging as this. I’m going to quiz some of my instructiors on their webdev experiences to get some perspective.

Saturday, 12:45 AM - It’s Still The First Week, Isn’t It?

(Technically Sunday). Our weekend project is nuts. It’s not a difficult challenge, per se, but since it’s the first time any of us have put together a website like this …

I’m learning tons; that’s all I have to say about that.

Final Thoughts

What works?

  • Trust. Trust your teachers, trust your team, trust yourself.
  • Cold brew coffee from a respectable coffee shop is so much better than Folgers coffee that the comparison itself is a tad embarassing. I’m a bit of a neophyte when it comes to coffee, but I’m learning.
  • Life size Jenga is exactly as fun as it sounds.

What doesn’t?

  • Not getting enough sleep. There’s a line between tired and sleep-deprived, and I managed to find it this week.