Week One = WOW!

5 Full Days Into a Nine Week, Front-End Development Immersive

Mandy Thomson
Feb 4, 2014 · 4 min read

One week ago today, I would have told you that I was pretty great at learning things on my own. You see, over the past 12 years I've taught myself Avid (professional video editing software), as well as many Adobe programs including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver.

During my college years, trying to learn various softwares in class left me mostly confused and thinking that teaching myself was the only way to go. I’d have a project and my objectives in mind while I used manuals, online courses, google and whatever other means necessary to struggle through until finally, things became easier and easier. Then, over time, after a few different projects were completed, the software would feel more and more natural to use until eventually it was second nature.

Now after just one week, I can see what a vastly different experience this immersive is. There has been so much passion and love put into this program and it makes such an immense difference. Heather Payne (the founder of Hacker You) has gone to every length possible, to make sure we have the most fantastic, committed teachers and mentors to help us learn the best practices and learn them FAST! She’s also seen to it that everyone taking the course is extremely dedicated and committed to the program and that we all share a similar mentality. It’s made for fast friends and a really supportive environment. If every learning institution operated like this, we'd be a world full of passionate experts in all of our fields.

We're in school eight hours a day, five days a week with weekend projects, so it’s super intense. But the process in which we are learning makes the knowledge ‘stick’ in a way that was absent in my past learning experiences. On a typical day our lead instructor will give a short lesson and then we’ll immediately put those theories to the test by working on quick challenges. We go over the answers as a group and then move onto the next exercise/challenge.

Near the end of every week we’re assigned a project: to make a full website using all the tools we've learned up to that point. That means by the end of the course we’ll have nine full websites plus various other projects in our portfolios. That’s amazing! It will allow all of us to hit the ground running as we embark on our new careers.

At the start of every week, we present our projects from the previous week and after seeing everyone’s first sites, it’s very apparent that we're all a bunch of overachievers! Every site looked so great. I was so impressed. I can only imagine how unbelievable our projects are going to be in week 8 & 9.

Before Hacker You, I had only ever taken wordpress themes and customized them, and even that required a lot of trial and error. I’d try and try again until I got things looking the way I wanted them to look. Most of the time I barely knew why things worked (or didn't work). Now, after just one week, I was able to build a full site, from scratch, completely on my own. It really shows you how effective this method of teaching & learning is.

My Top Three Favourite Things From Week One:

  1. * { Box-sizing: Border-box } FTW!!!
    Seriously this one tiny piece of CSS made me so happy! It makes the box model behave like it always should have! It makes it intuitive and it made my day to learn about it. Every single site I make will include this piece of code.
  2. Sublime Text with Emmet
    I started using Sublime Text to complete some of the pre-course work that was assigned to us. I’d heard that most developers loved Sublime Text and it was quickly becoming an industry standard text editor for code, markup and prose. But besides some cool colour schemes, I couldn't really understand what the big deal was?
    Then I discovered the ‘Go To Anything’ function, the command pallet with it’s ‘fuzzy searching’, and the Emmet plugin.
    These three things make writing code a lighting fast, and fun experience. As a lover of ANY keyboard shortcut, I’m making it my mission to try to write every line of code with an Emmet abbreviation. I wrote almost every div and HTML tag in my first website with only one line of Emmet — It was so awesome!
  3. Learning Everyone’s Name in One Day
    I’m normally terrible with names. It’s a personality flaw for sure. But after day one at Hacker You, I knew everyone’s name! This was because we spent the entire morning playing ‘ice-breakers’ — and not the usual lame ones either! By lunchtime I not only knew everyone by name, but I also felt bonded with them. It was definitely a first for me.

I’m beyond happy that I made the decision to quit my job as a television editor for these 9 weeks, and fully to commit to this program. It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m so excited to go through it with these other 25 brilliant folks!

From Editor to Front-End Developer… My Journey.

My story: as I make a career change from a steady working TV Editor to a Front-End Web Developer and the nine weeks of bootcamp in between.

    Mandy Thomson

    Written by

    Mandy is a Front-End Developer/Designer in Toronto, ON. She tweets at @mandymadethis and blogs @ http://mandymadethis.com/

    From Editor to Front-End Developer… My Journey.

    My story: as I make a career change from a steady working TV Editor to a Front-End Web Developer and the nine weeks of bootcamp in between.

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