A journey of a thousand miles…

…begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

So it {begins} — my first serious steps into making a career out of Software Development, Computer Programming, and Coding.

About a month ago, I enrolled in Launch School’s online Preparatory Course for free. After reading countless books, completing a never-ending series of coding challenges, and debugging the tiniest of newbie mistakes, I completed the first course in their paid program today — Course 101!

The final assignment asks students to start a blog to keep track of the little tips and BIG tricks learned along the way. There’s so much I’ve discovered already that I wish I’d started blogging sooner! But, no worries — I’m sure it’ll all come back around soon.

If you’re curious about Launch School, here are three highlights that really resonate with me throughout my experience so far:

  • Curriculum — Lessons are well-designed, easy to follow, and challenging.
  • Mastery Based Learning — Assessments for proficiency, not completion.
  • Community — Ever-present, supportive, and active people at every turn.
A Diagram of the Game’s Rules

So far, I am in love with the curriculum. It is both clear and concise as well as thorough and challenging! The heads up they give here and there show how experienced they are at helping people learn how to understand and apply the material.

Along with a Classic Calculator, Tic-Tac-Toe with AI, and a simple game of Blackjack, my favorite coding assignment so far has been Rock, Paper, Scissors, Spock, Lizard. I loved incorporating ascii art to give more drama and fun to such a straight forward game. Here’s a link to my Ruby code on GitHub.com:

Right now, I work full-time as a public school Music Teacher. It’s hard to find, but I devote time every day to learning to program. What I love about Launch School’s Mastery Based Learning approach is that it emphasizes daily practice with a focus on fundamentals. Programming is a skill to be learned and developed by anyone who puts in the time — just like music.

Every day, I feel like I’m practicing scales and arpeggios while completing coding exercises and assignments. Slowly, but surely, I sense patterns of thought and muscle memory movements in my fingers sent deeper and deeper into long-term storage.

The biggest surprise to me is how INCREDIBLE the community is at Launch School. Right now, I was trying to locate one of my favorite articles, but having trouble. I just logged into our Slack chat room, gave a brief description of what I remembered from the article, and 30 seconds later, a fellow student had the link for me. This is it, by the way:

Besides a Slack channel to connect the community, there are lesson specific bulletin boards with posts both inquiring about and clarifying curiosities raised in the assignments. There’s also study group sessions via Zoom and Cloud9 to help prepare for assessments while generally interacting with others and learning from their various approaches. Before I started, I had small worries that learning online might be a lonely and desolate experience — but that is not the case here.

Finally, today I posted my code for an assignment to a bulletin board with a Code Review Request. Within 5 hours, a TA responded with a full write up. The feedback was helpful, thoughtful, and specific to my needs — I practically feel like I’m being mentored.

Is this really the end or just the beginning?!?

Thank you for reading my first blog about my programming journey!

I have to run… there’s a study group that starts in an hour — and I haven’t eaten dinner, yet. This might be the {end} for today, but I’ll be sure to keep posting tidbits I come across along the way. I hope we’ll both find my future musings to be fun, funny, helpful, informational, inspirational, and valuable. Please write a response below and let me know!