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My First Year Of Software Engineering

My class/office/playground

It has been one year since I’ve decided to learn how to code and today I will be writing about my journey from where I started and where I’m at today.
There has been many ups and downs along the way but ultimately, I’m glad I made that choice and how much I’ve learned.

I remember when I was seven years old, my uncle had come to visit and he saw how bored I was at my grandma’s house. He then asked me You done with your homework?, I replied with You think grandma would let me sit around if I wasn’t done with my homework. He looked at my grandma and laughed out loud for a solid good few minutes. My uncle must’ve thought that was really funny because he took a liking to me after that, he later rewarded me by buying me a GameBoy Color with a copy of Pokemon Red and that was how I got introduced to digital technology and the day I became a tech geek. I later moved on to PCs where I logged countless hours on titles such as : Starcraft, RuneScape, Counter-strike and Maplestory. As a PC gamer, newer titles require newer hardware, so at the age of eleven, I started modding my own PC and that is when I knew I wanted to get into the technology field as a career.

Fast forward a few years and BOOM! I got into my preferred school which is the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn. HURRAY! This was one giant step closer to my childhood dream of owning an internet cafe where I can just hang out and tinker with PCs. But then life happens and due to certain circumstances, I had to drop out and work full time to support myself.

I’ve been blessed my whole life and I had a great career in the restaurant industry after I dropped out of college and eventually became a restaurant manager for a chain of restaurants in my hometown of NYC.

Fast forward to March 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic was at the height of it’s prime and like many others, I was forced to close down all three of my restaurants due to employees getting sick and the overall decline of business. These were some really dark times for me, since my cousin who was working for me had just been hospitalized from COVID and I was concerned about the coworker’s lives and career in the future.

Thanks to good old Uncle Sam, this issue was solved in a form of pandemic relief payment, opportunity came calling. I knew the lockdown wasn’t gonna clear up any time soon, so I handed in my resignation letter to my boss and used my stimulus check as a down payment to enroll in the Flatiron School for web development.

Month 0

Enrolling back to school was very daunting at first, since I’ve been out of school for over a decade and simply didn’t know if I was still capable of learning something as complex as software engineering. But with the love and support from my close ones, it gave me the confidence to study my ass off for a month before the Flatiron entrance code challenge with some free resources such as:

Learn to Code — for Free | Codecademy

Learn to Code — For Free — Coding Courses for Busy People (freecodecamp.org)

CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science | edX

Using these free platforms I was able to learn Basic HTML and CSS with a little Python that I had picked up on my own. Thanks to the hardworking people who created these amazing free tools, I was able to pass the Flatiron School entrance code challenge.

Month 2

We did it! I got into Flatiron and was assigned with the most amazing cohort. Together, we worked tirelessly day in and day out for the next four months of the program.

For the first month we learned programming basics such as Object Oriented Programming with Ruby and learned how to build conditional CLI apps using Ruby.

In the second month, we learned functional programming along with how to build out backend servers using the MVC model with Ruby on Rails.

The third month was pure Javascript and how HTTP requests work over the internet and how as web developers, we all need to make fetch happen.

The fourth and final month was spent learning frontend frameworks such as React and how to use Redux for state management and for the final week of class, we were assigned to work on our capstone project where we can build whatever we like and we graduate depending if we do a good job.

Month 6

Success! My capstone project came out great, I built a full stack gaming blog site(check out the demo here)and I was able to graduate with my web app along with a perfect 4/4 score on my monthly code challenges. Although I never regretted dropping out of college, I got TONS of slack through out the ages from my dear old Asian mother but this time I was proud to phone her the good news.

Month 8

After graduation, I took month seven off and took a nice little road trip with my girlfriend since regulations were easing up from the pandemic lockdown. We did the most covid responsible vacation we can think of by renting a van and traveling across the the country staying at national park campgrounds. Great recommendation by the way!

Nothin like the crisp air of the great outdoors.

I later spent my whole eighth month self educating and learned a bunch of new frameworks and libraries such as Hooks to replace Redux as my state management and Sass to bolster my frontend knowledge. Here are the links if you wanna check it out.

Getting Sassy with my CSS💁‍♂️. Beginner’s guide on Sassy CSS | by Steven Wu | Jun, 2021 | Medium

Hooked on React Hooks🪝. A simple guide on React hooks | by Steven Wu | Medium

Month 9

Game time! By month nine, I have officially started my job search and I was knee deep in job applications and spent most of my time learning data structures and algorithms through websites such as :

LeetCode — The World’s Leading Online Programming Learning Platform

Dashboard | HackerRank

At this point a few of us at our cohort got hired already and we were all vaccinated so we all decided to have a get together before some of us move away from New York for work.

Miss these guys 😢

Year 1

Here we are today. It has been exactly one year since my software engineering journey started and although I have yet to find a job in the recent months, I am hopeful it is coming soon and I’m happy to report most of my cohort mates are employed already.
Within one year I am now capable of building out full stack web apps and I am quite happy with how much I’ve learned in the past year. The past few months has been pretty tough grinding algo questions but I have finished my portfolio site and even learned how to build out the classic Pong game in HTML & Javascript with my newly acquired knowledge.

I personally believe this has been one of my better decisions in life and I am grateful for all the devs that I’ve met along the way that has shared their knowledge with me.

And I also want to thank all my viewers that have been following my blogs since my first month of the Flatiron program.

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Steven Wu

Steven Wu

I’m a NYC based full stack developer and a part-time gaming nerd https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenwubc/