1. There is so much to learn!
I knew there would be a lot to learn — that’s a no brainer. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer volume of course material available online. There are university MOOCs, free courses on websites, free versions of paid boot camps, and of course all the paid courses on top. The first thing I did was register on as many of the different platforms as possible to see if I could figure out which teaching style and method would be best for me.
Unfortunately, I really like several of them so I’m still overloaded with resources right now. My next step will be to eliminate some and focus on one or two to start with.
2. There are lots of different paths.
When I started looking at this, I knew I had an interest in computers, tech and programming, but I really didn’t know about the different paths that were available to follow. I had never heard the term ‘full stack developer’ before and I had no idea what data science involved exactly. (Note: I still don’t really know much about data science.)
Now, I’m more familiar with what a front end, back end and full stack developer might do but I’m still a bit clueless about the rest. Should I be looking into what UX might involve? Who knows? 😕 I figure I can work that out later if I manage to become at all proficient in the basics.
3. The ‘Learn To Code’ movement is a wonderful thing.
There are so many people out there who are regularly giving up their own time to help beginners like me, and self-studiers to learn how to code. It’s really magnificent that there is so much support.
I get the impression that the movement is largely driven by younger graduates and coders (although I really can’t verify that) because several of my free classes are taught by people who appear to have graduated in the last 2–3 years from university. I’m not complaining at all, though. I’m learning a heck of a lot from these rather helpful individuals and I owe them, and the institutions that are offering up coding education, a big (BIG) thank you.
4. There is a counter ‘Don’t Learn To Code’ movement.
I realised quite quickly after coming across the Learn To Code movement that there are several people out there leading the charge for the Don’t Learn To Code movement. I think the motives of the people pushing this point of view are quite varied, and unfortunately, whether they intend this or not, it can sometimes come across as “how dare you think you can do MY job, you’ll never be a real coder, we’re so intelligent”.
Having said that, I do understand the backlash against the promises made to people by some boot camps that they will get this or that highly paid job after just a couple of months of study. Coding education is big business and there are people willing to pay thousands for courses that they consider an ‘investment’.
It’s probably pretty insulting for someone who has spent years learning how to be a good developer to see that people think that 14 weeks of intensive study is going to get them to a similar level. I’d be pretty narked about that, too, but, I think that lots of boot camp attendees are pretty aware that it’s just a foot in the door as a beginner and that they’ll have to do a lot of learning afterwards.
I’m approaching it as if it’s a new degree. I spent 4 years full-time on my MA(Hons) and I would expect something similar here before I’d start to feel confident at all.
Here is an article that is pretty good at outlining some of the reservations that people have about the Learn To Code movement.
Entrepreneurs, Please Don’t Learn to Code
In startup land there is a tonne of emphasis on “tech” — tech startups, financial technology, app development etc, but…
5. HTML is pretty OK.
OK, so I’ve only been at this for just over a week, but I can safely say that I’m feeling good about HTML. Several of the courses and pre-courses I signed up for started with HTML so I’ve completed beginner lessons on it repeatedly this week.
I’ve not had any difficulty with any of the assignments I’ve had to do and so I’m hoping that as I go on, HTML will continue to be very manageable. Next on my radar is CSS and I’m excited about getting stuck in.
6. There is a simple difference between <div> and <span>.
Block level element versus inline element. Super easy! Glad I figured that one out. :)
7. Backend language courses are more mathsy.
I’ve been learning a little bit of Ruby and Python in my courses this week (I know — I will drop the variety and concentrate on one area soon) and I’ve found the lessons in these to be way more mathsy.
I actually enjoy this, though, because I used to love maths at school (I studied it to A-level) and it is making my brain think a little more in that way again. I love that the assignments involve more of a problem-solving challenge and I’m looking forward to learning more.
8. I might need Linux on my PC.
In my course about learning the command line, it says I need to get Linux. I remember installing it on my last PC, years ago, alongside windows but I don’t remember using it. (I really need to figure out how I did that again so I can replicate it.)
I do have a Mac laptop, though, so this is a good thing as I can use the terminal on there. Hooray!
9. Waiting for a reply from a boot camp makes me nervous (Lambda School).
I actually applied for one of the boot camps because it had a zero payment up front and it looked like a really good course (not a 14-week course but 9 months).
The school is called Lambda School and waiting for a reply to my application is making me bite my nails. I hadn’t done any online courses when I applied and I think this might go against me in a big way but I’m hoping I can at least get to the interview stage so that I can tell them what I’ve been doing since applying.
I will, of course, write about it on Medium when I find out either way.
10. So far, I love coding (and I know HTML isn’t “proper code” 🙄)
I may be suffering from new-thing-enthusiasm but I do love what I’ve been doing so far.
I actually considered doing a Computer Science degree with the Open University back in my mid-twenties but found the fees too high at the time, so it doesn’t surprise me that I’m enjoying this so far.
Let’s just hope that I can continue to navigate my way through and actually create some useful stuff one day.
And if you’re here because you’re also on a coding journey, then good luck!