11:51 pm. Just finished coding and pushing my stuff to GitHub. Sleepy.
It’s the end of my first day at Software Craftsmanship Guild’s Java bootcamp and I am excited and drained.
December was preparation month: long days of working my two jobs, managing parenting responsibilities, planning art lessons, getting ready for Christmas, and doing homework–lots of homework–to get ready for bootcamp.
The last few days before I left were much better because I had wrapped up all loose ends, put away the Christmas tree, and packed. I quit the job I love. Sunday, I drove to Akron to move into my apartment for the next three months. I got there a little early so the leasing office wasn’t quite open. This was a hard time for me. As I waited, I realized this was a crucial moment that held a lot of power. I could turn around now and lose nothing except my tuition deposit. Or I could walk into a new opportunity that would cost me the next 12 weeks of time away from my current life but pay off big time when it’s over. So I walked in.
And soon I was knocking on the door of my new apartment for the next 12 weeks. One of my roommates answered. She is a student at the University of Akron, as are about 70% of the residents there. She seemed nice, but the first thing I saw as I walked in was a beer bong lying on the kitchen counter and the empty liquor bottles lined up on top of the kitchen cabinets. So apparently I got the party group.
In the 24 hours since I decided to go for it, loneliness has been my biggest enemy. I thought it would be self-doubt. But it’s missing my family that is hardest.
My first day in class helped a lot with the loneliness. Meeting the other cohorts was great. I am the only girl in the Java cohort, and I’m definitely the oldest, but I figured on that. Everyone was really, really nice. And helpful. The first day was pretty light. We did some things none of us had before, but we moved slowly. Eric Ward was super-patient and stopped to help whenever any of us had problems. I wasn’t the only one who had issues, and for that I was thankful.
Many people have a preconceived idea that programming is something that only certain types of people are good at. Or that only certain types of people would enjoy it. It’s assumed that coders are young, single, men, introverted, and nerdy. They guzzle coffee and work into the deep hours of the night. They lack social skills. While all these may be true in some cases, I’m finding that programmers come in all flavors. They tend to be extremely accepting and supportive. They want others to succeed. And many people who thought they wouldn’t or couldn’t have a knack for coding have found, to their surprise, that they can learn this. Some might need more time or guidance. But they can do it.
I have always been attracted to this profession. Yet, for a long time, I believed I wasn’t the right “type.” I thought I was too artsy and creative. But I’m finding that this is right for me. And a surprising number of the other apprentices have creative backgrounds similar to mine.Today I met future coders who are engineers, journalists, teachers, restaurant-workers, biomedical researchers. Although I didn’t meet him, I heard that one of the previous apprentices was a rabbi. I know that Dev Bootcamp had a guy who was a chimney sweep.
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
I start the Java cohort at the Software Craftsmanship Guild in 18 days!
There’s also some preparation required for getting my apartment set up. The bed is a weird size, full size extra long, so I need to get sheets and bedding. There are lists to be made and details to be handled so I can make a graceful temporary exit from my current life for the next 12 weeks. I need to get my son his driver’s license so he can help out with errands and driving duty.
We’re also considering a little reward after all this is over. Maybe a cruise??? It’s getting harder to find vacations that work for all of us now that the boys are getting older, but a cruise has something for all of us. I’m thinking Mexico on spring break.
One of the more difficult moments this past month was telling my boss that I would be quitting. I really, really love my job teaching art classes. The environment where I work is amazing. I work in a paint-your-own pottery art studio that also provides studio space for an incredible group of artists who also happen to have developmental disabilities. We have a coffee shop in our space and I get to play barista sometimes. I’ll miss teaching my after school and preschool art classes each week. And I was just starting to teach adults too, at the Buckeye Lake Winery. There’s nothing like teaching painting while enjoying the lake view with a bloody mary in one hand.
I know I keep saying this, but I can’t not do this.
In three weeks, I head to Akron for a Java apprenticeship through the Software Craftsmanship Guild.
I simply can’t believe it. Can’t.
Tonight I went to a meeting of the Columbus Ruby Brigade. The speakers were fresh from Dev Bootcamp in Chicago. Katy, a graduate, Alyssa, an instructor, and Dave Hoover, DBC’s founder, all spoke tonight about their experiences and answered tons of questions.
I went because I am hungry to know everything I can about what to expect when I attend SCG. The two programs are different: Dev Bootcamp focuses on Ruby while SCG has two separate cohorts that choose to focus on either .NET or Java. Yet, they have a great many similarities in the way they are structured and taught.
I know I am very different from most applicants to these programs. I am female. I’m old enough to be their parent. Those two facts alone make me stand out. Add in my natural insecurities and I am a walking, neurotic bag of mush. It was good to hear that at DBC, they address the insecurity issues head-on. And everybody has them. I hope this gets addressed at SCG, but if it doesn’t, I hope I remember what was said here tonight.
Katy was very inspiring when she stood at the front and said that she knows she can learn anything. It may take her longer, or it may not, but either way is OK. It was good to know that I’m not the only one wondering if I am good enough.
And the answer is, yes, I am.
In January, everything will change.
I’m going after my dream. I’m going to be an apprentice at the Software Craftsmanship Guild and learn how to code.
This is so far out of my comfort zone that I just HAVE to try it.
And I will blog about what it’s like to attend a coding boot camp.
Right now, I am am art teacher. I live a safe life. In four weeks, everything changes. I’ll live in Akron, Ohio, for 12 weeks in an apartment with three roommates whom I have never met. I’ll spend well over 40 hours a week learning how to code. I’ll be living without my husband for the first time in 21 years. I’ll be missing my teenage sons. I will only go home on weekends.
People around here just don’t DO stuff like this. Which is exactly why I have to do it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?”
Oh I so needed this.
I already knew about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. So when I started doubting and questioning everything: my ability, commitment, whether or not anyone would ever hire me due to my age/gender, I seem to have forgotten that it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years to master my craft. No excuses.
If you need a caffeine jolt of motivation to get the creative muse musing again, read this article about ten years of silence.
Then, just for fun, read about Banksy’s month-long New York art show that encompasses the entire city.