Lessons from Code School

Lessons and insight from my adventures into code school.

This year I am attending @Epicodus, a Portland-based code school that was founded in 2012. There are, as with anything, multiple reasons for taking the plunge but first and foremost I wanted to position myself to think more like the tech talent I represent.

Much of the recruiting world is comprised of non-technologists on their first job fresh out of college. This is because most large recruiting firms believe that anyone can become an effective recruiter with proper training. But most recruiters, as we all know, kind of suck.

Perhaps one of the fundamental flaws in talent acquisition is that recruiters do not know what their talent does for a living. Worse yet, they don’t care.

Naturally, I don’t want to fall into this camp.

That is why I’ve enrolled in code school. Although there’s an element of self-enrichment, most of my focus is making it so I can better connect with and think like (even marginally) the folks I attempt to put to work on a day-to-day basis.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Coding is Effin’ Hard

The quantity of nuance among and within coding languages are immense. A simple missed keystroke can throw an entire website or application out of whack. This is true for simple things like markup and doubly so for actual programming languages.

This knowledge is shaping my interview questions with developers. Instead of asking “Do you know how to do this?” I’m learning the more relevant question can be “Do you know how to learn this?” or “Have you done something similar to this?”

Coding is Time Consuming

I know there are people who can spout code as easily as breathing, but in these toddling stages of web development I find that everything takes a lot of time, a lot of testing, and a lot of exploration. Usually, I’ll even need to detour onto the web for a reference check.

Knowing how long it takes to build a simple webpage is teaching me that environment is everything. Whether I were tasked with building a massive front-end application, a robust web-app or some back-end-data-tier-python-witchery, I would want to work in the best place with the best people because it’s going to take awhile! Why work hard on something that requires so much focus and knowledge (or at least know-how on how to resource that info) if the environment is lacking?

Now I’m finally understanding why coding folks so often hope to work and contribute from home. Offices can be distracting and most work environments — creative shops and corporate behemoths alike — leave a lot to be desired.

I’m also learning the unique panic of trying to hit deadlines. I now have empathy for miles.

Coding is Really Fun

I am enjoying the learning process but ultimately my passion lies with people and making connections happen for them.

While I’m not writing it off entirely, I don’t think I could see myself ever doing it full time.

Which is good, because ultimately, coding is for the talented people.

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