Why I want to be part of Holberton

It had been a long two months since my eleven year-old-self — Josh — and my thirteen-year-old brother — Sam — had decided to hit it big selling dishwasher soap.

I sat in front of the family computer and cracked my knuckles. It was time. I was ready to show Sam the website I had been working on so resolutely for the past two months. I had spent hundreds of hours learning things like writing html in Notepad, how to open an html file in a browser, what in the world an h-ref was, and writing little bits of inline javascript to make my masterpiece that much more interactive and stylish. Was there frustration along the way? Yes. Despair? Yes. But in the end I stood victor, and that was what counted. I took a deep breath and then opened index.html on Internet Explorer.

There it was: my website in all it’s glory. Looking over the gorgeous neon green background — #39ff14 if you must know — and an infinitely repeating tile jpeg of a dishwasher soap bottle, I wondered if we would even need to hire a graphic designer when we had my top-notch skills.

At top of the page was all the links to the various parts of the website. One of these was the most important link of all: the shop. This is where we would make millions, then retire and live in the Caribbean for the rest of our carefree days. I clicked on the shop. Nothing happened. I clicked on it again. Nothing happened again.

My brother stared daggers into the back of my neck, and I bowed my head in shame. He had done his part of the business, namely figuring out the ins and outs of marketing for that booming, niche market which was dishwasher soap. And I had failed us.

After being thoroughly chewed out by my brother, I raised my head, cracked my knuckles, and got back to work. The shop wasn’t going to fix itself. And so began my journey of becoming a software engineer.

There are three main reasons why I want to become a software engineer.

The first reason is that I believe the world has changed immensely in the past fifty years with the rise of technology and the internet. In this changed and changing world, I believe that software engineering is one of the best ways to interact with the world and make an impact. I don’t need the support of a massive corporation to try and make an idea a reality anymore. I can do it by myself, or I can make a significant contribution to a team. Technology also means that working with a team has never been so productive, with the tools and modes of communication making collaboration easier than ever.

The second is that I love the community and culture that is coming from parts of the internet, particularly open-source. I love the idea of open-source: sharing knowledge and hard work with no strings attached. If I want to learn on the level of an institution like MIT, I can now access the lectures and material online without paying money or being in the top 1% of students. I don’t need money, significant resources, or much of anything besides a desire to learn. If I want to understand the inner workings of the tools I am using, I can go to github and download the complete source code for those tools. Or maybe there’s a bug in those tools that it preventing me from doing something. I simply clone the source, fix the problem for myself, and then fix that problem for everyone else in the world when I commit the change back. I can take a project with useful tools and take it in a completely different direction to fit my needs by forking that project. Even if I just want to understand how something works to give me ideas, it’s all available to me. And to everyone else in the world. I find this open-source philosophy beautiful, and I want to be part of it. Something I do can help another programmer across the world in Ukraine, and something she does can help me. It’s a perpetuating positive cycle.

The last reason is simply that I love the process of programming. I love it. I love computers, and I love programming. I love the beginning of a project and wondering how I’m going to go about turning an idea in my head into a concrete piece of software, and how I’m going to structure and create it. I love iterating over what I thought was right and the constantly evolving vision of what I’m trying to create. I love the feeling of finishing a project and looking at the little and big struggles I had to go through, and what I accomplished despite those. And I love the flexibility of have in software to make changes, adapt as I go, and see my progress immediately.

Likewise, there are two main reasons why I want to attend Holbertson specifically.

This first reason is that I want to participate in a community of programmers that has a genuine drive to learn. Despite what most would like to think, environment influences us to a large degree. If I live in a group of people who are doing the bare minimum to get a certification or degree, then it is demotivating. It can still be done, but it makes the process much harder. The people I surround myself will influence me despite what I would like to think. I believe that Holbertson is one of these rare communities that is dedicated to really learning and improving one’s process, and I want to be part of this.

The second reason is that for me personally, academia, specifically college and beyond, is not the right fit for my goals. I want to work in the field, actually be interacting with the world in a direct way, and be creating and innovating. I am not interested in theory, impractical knowledge, and gen-eds. There is a place for academia and the pursuit of more abstract knowledge, and I respect those who do, but it is not what I am interested in. I want to get solid foundation and then immediately start getting my hands dirty in real work. Holbertson is the perfect length for this. It’s not too short as to breeze over important concepts, ideas, and application like something several months long might be. It’s also not too long like a four year degree, where much of the time is spent on unrelated or impractical learning. The time allotted at Holbertson is enough to learn with real depth and understanding, but not too much as to take a massive chunk out of my life.

I am ready to put in the work, extra hours, mistakes, and whatever else is it takes to learn and improve. But passion and determination, while absolutely necessary, are not enough. Passion is the fuel that drives me, but to get to my destination efficiently or even have a destination, I need a map and good directions. And since the world is constantly changing, my map — or my knowledge — is bound to have some mistakes. So along the way, I will need some adaptability to change my plans based on changes in the road as they come along.

I have these attributes: passion, determination, the foresight and intelligence to make the most efficient plan, and the adaptability to work with unforeseen problems as they come up. This is why I believe I am a good fit for Holbertson.

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