Quit Your Job and Learn to Code

I quit my, stable well-paying Cyber Security job six months ago. I was living in Kuwait at the time and trying to relocate to Denver. I didn’t have a job lined up when I relocated. For the first time since 2001, I was entering the world of the unemployed.

I wasn’t sure what to do, what to expect or how to feel. Willfully deciding to not to make money was very unnerving for me but not having some sort of purpose to fill my days was downright frightening. Some people would have taken this time to relax and enjoy life for awhile. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I wasn’t really sure how to relax for an extended amount of time.

I worked 60+ hours a week between my paying gig and my business, [Roameroo](http://roameroo.com/) while I was in Kuwait. Some downtime was very welcome but I dreaded the question every unemployed person fears:

> “What do you do?”

I decided I didn’t want this to be my reply:

> “Well I play video games and watch television.”

OR

>”I’m in between jobs”.

Thats just an elegant way of saying unemployed.

I thought about:

* writing a book. (I always *think* about that.)
* driving for Uber.
* going back to school for my doctorate.

Then, I stumbled on an article about a web development bootcamp called [Designation UX/UI Bootcamp](http://http://designation.io/) located in Chicago and the idea seemed fantastic to me. I couldn’t afford to pay my contracted developers any longer, so I would just learn to do it myself.

Chicago seemed a bit far from where I wanted to be so I looked for a similar course and found program in Boulder, CO called [RefactorU](http://http://www.refactoru.com/). The next cohort started 3 weeks after I arrived back in Colorado and they were working with the technology stack that intigued me the most: [Nodejs](https://nodejs.org/).

RefactorU teaches their students Full Stack Javascript. Their graduates can create their own website from scratch by the end of ten weeks. They claim that 96% of their graduates have jobs within two months of finishing the program. Their entire staff is super friendly and they are within a stone’s throw… literally, from a [Avery Brewing Company](http://averybrewing.com/age-verification/?referrer=/) (at least while I was there).

RefactorU was everything I hoped it would be. The people were great, the material was challenging and there was this general feeling of optimism and excitement around my new venture. There was only one snag in my plan.

I realized early on, that I was not learning as fast as some of the other students. I was the oldest person in the class, at 34. It didn’t help that I didn’t have any real coding experience. The material wasn’t coming to me as easily as I had hoped. I understood the concepts but when it came time to dip into that knowledge and apply it, my memory was faulty.

>It’s like I was given this swiss army knife that has like 35 tools on it. Someone showed me all these awesome features and things I can do with the tool. It all makes sense in my head but for some reason I keep going back to the normal ol’ knife… and I’m holding it wrong.

It felt like like that old saying, “shoving a square peg through a round hole”. As much as I love to code and I was genuinely excited about the prospects of a new career I found myself a part of the 4% that couldn’t get a job within the two months. I began to panic and started looking for jobs in my old field.

I still code. I am learning how to put limited programming skills to work as a Cyber Security Analyst, developing tools and scripts that help me in my current role. I still complete web development courses through [Code School](https://www.codeschool.com/). While this wasn’t the path I had in mind, I continue to make progress and I still have the optimism I had at RefactorU.

Sometimes square pegs do fit in round holes. I didn’t become a great coder at RefactorU but I did gain the confidence and the tools to become one.

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