Turing School of Software and Design: the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I applied and got accepted to the Turing School of Software & Design in December 2015. I started on February 1st, 2016. I’m an alumni with the 1602 cohort. My official last day is tomorrow, August 5th, 2016.

In the time between being accepted and starting at Turing, I Googled everything I could find that was someone’s opinion about the program that wasn’t a staff member or teacher. I eventually even read those too. I scoured Course Report, Quora, and found some blog posts on Medium.

I put myself in a frenzy, I questioned my decision to leave a career that I could make decent money while being dissatisfied and bored. I tried to figure out whether or not I could or should retract my 31-day notice that I had given my employer, and had frequent anxiety attacks about whether or not I’d be able to make it through the program. I continually searched for more reviews about Turing. I got to the 3rd and 4th pages of search results and eventually everything I found that was relevant, was just another purple link.

The thing I repeatedly encountered, the one common thread among all of the posts and reviews: “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” It’s a funny thing to read over and over again and ultimately not understand it. I still don’t think I could fully explain it now, but for the sake of this post I’ll give it a shot.

For almost every weekday between February 1st and about July 29th (with the exception of the intermission weeks), I woke up at 5:00 am and studied until about 6:30. I would then wake my wife up, make breakfast, pack a lunch (on most days), and get on the #1 bus at 7:21. I would be in the basement (That’s where Turing’s current space is, the basement below the Patagonia store on 15th and Blake. They are under contract for a new space, a new basement.) by about 7:45. I would continue to study or write code for a project until about 8:30 or 9:00, depending on if I was a part of a posse (a small group of students working on code challenges or joined by a common interest) or not. Instructional time went from 9:00am until about 4:00pm. Sometimes there were after school activities, but I would usually be home by about 5:30. I would take about an hour and a half to eat dinner and spend time with my wife, then I would be back in front of the computer until about 11:00. Rinse and repeat. There were small variations depending on project or assignment load, but I generally always found something to work on.

If we’re doing math on the above schedule, I was studying for approximately 13 hours every day. 13 hours x 5 days per week = 65 hours per week. Adding in weekends and it equates to over 70 hours per week for 24 weeks (27 weeks minus the 3 intermission weeks).

So, here I am. 27 weeks later: exhausted, short on patience, irritable, emotionally fragile, and mentally broken.

But I’m done and I’m a better person than when I started.

I’ve learned about pushing myself to my limits and then realizing how much further I could go from there. I’ve learned to work with other people in more productive ways and the importance of not leaving teammates behind. I’ve worked as a cog in a well-oiled machine, and learned to become a leader when I’m needed or when no one else will step forward. I’ve discovered my thirst and ability to learn. I’ve learned to push through things that don’t matter and how to handle and address the things that do. I’ve learned that the route from problem to solution is never a straight line, but a path of exploration with frequent detours. I’ve learned to take note of the mistakes I made in hopes of preventing repetition. I’ve learned about having difficult, uncomfortable conversations about sensitive topics and understanding that I’m a better person because of other peoples’ opinions and views. I’ve learned about the privilege that I carry in the industry by being a male and how to be an ally to those who don’t share the same advantage. I’ve learned that sometimes the best solution when I’m stuck on a problem is to take a step back and try to look at it through a different lens. I’ve learned that I’m more than I’ve ever given myself credit for. I’ve learned to be proud of myself when I accomplish something that I’ve worked hard at. I’ve learned that this isn’t something you can get through on your own and that it’s okay to ask for help. And despite everything I’ve learned, I have also learned that I know nothing and that this is just the beginning of a long journey.

Oh, and I also learned to code.

I’m finally decompressing and plan to focus on my job hunt.

My one final thing:

I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without the support of my loving, amazing, and supportive wife, both sides of my extended family, and the community and staff at Turing standing behind me. It’s because of all of you that I’m able to stare at a bright future filled with potential.

Thank you.

Here is a link to my personal site: http://www.markmiranda.ninja/. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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