4 Lessons Learned In the First 4 weeks of Code School

4 beginner lessons I learned in the first 4 weeks at The Iron Yard, in addition to a heap of Code.

# 1 — Kindly check your presumptions at the door. You are no longer the big fish in a small pond…

So you know a lot about technology? You can tell me all about the latest gadgets, gizmos, operating systems, and hot tech trends?! Congrats on all of that — really. But understand that doesn’t matter one iota. All of those cool gadgets and new gizmos are hunks of plastic and metal without the human beings hacking away at the bits of code to make them go. Being ‘the computer guy/girl’ among your friends, family, and coworkers doesn’t prepare you to code well… in fact bringing that presumption to The Iron Yard could be detrimental to the experience. You will quickly realized that you have wandered out of the shallows and are treading in the deep water. Humility and willingness to learn are what will keep you afloat.


# 2 — Preparation is key! (also… you will probably not be prepared enough)

The truth of the matter is unless you have spent real time ( And I mean months -not days, not hours) staring at a blinking cursor on the blank screen of an editor you will not feel fully prepared for that first week of class. If you are like the few of my classmates(whom I envied greatly) that had previous experience — that experience will likely get you through the first week or two before you also have the moments of quiet desperate confusion. Go ahead and read any literature on Git and you’ll understand what I mean. In preparation for The Iron Yard, I followed every suggestion I received and did every bit of prep work offered to me by my instructor. I even read though other materials — I watched videos — I read articles everyday. I am certainly not saying that you should not prepare as much as possible, but what I have learned is that no amount of preparation replaces experience. And experience is exactly what you are at code school to gain.


# 3 — You can’t “smart” your way out of the hard work…

You’ll tell your friends and family about going to code school and most will exalt you with the distinguished title of “smart guy/girl”. And you may be… and it’s even likely you actually are. You may be the one everyone turns to when there is a really tough problem to solve. You may be a plethora of information about many subjects, to which you can speak about many things… Again, I extend to a you a hearty congratulations. And again, I will tell you it doesn’t matter. You cannot outsmart this situation. You will have to work… and work hard. The amount of hard work and long hours you put in determines what you get out. Being smart enough to realize this early on is the only real thing that you need to be clever about. Otherwise… just know your brain is about to get a workout that you are probably not used to. And that’s ok…


# 4 — This may sting a little…

That workout I just mentioned; well, truthfully it might sting a lot. So far you’ve come in feeling like a tech-savvy smart person who is fully prepared… well hold on tight. Discomfort is apart of the curriculum. My experience at The Iron Yard hasn’t ‘felt’ good… and that’s the whole point. In a short experience like a ‘coding bootcamp’ the ability to learn all there is to know about a programming language simply isn’t possible. If any school tells you that it is, run the other way. To combat this relatively short schedule the staff at The Iron Yard will take you out of your comfort zone and into a place where a person’s brain is wired to learn more deeply ; this only happens under stress… feeling comfortable is the enemy. This is the ‘learning zone’ and here you’ll experience things like: here is a light introduction to a difficult topic… now here is a project which will require much more information than has been given to you. In order to complete these projects you will fail often.(This is not to say you wont receive help and instruction before panic sets in, but you will have to seek it out. Spoonfeeding isn’t on the menu.) This process doesn’t feel good… it can feel downright painful. However; as much as I wanted to curse this in the first few weeks… I realize now that I must admit it works. The effect of staying in this zone is learning to think under that pressure, and the side-effect is beginning to write code. Concepts and syntax that can have you on the verge of panic one moment flow like second nature mere days or even hours later. And that’s worth the sting.


Learning a programming language, especially in an accelerated environment will teach you as much about yourself as it will teach you about proper syntax if you pay attention… if the only thing you can say you learned is where the semi-colon goes — you missed the point.

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