Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Code Academy - So, what now?

I am sitting here scratching my head wondering where the past eleven weeks went.  I can't believe this spring quarter of Code Academy is over already.  It seems like yesterday that I was banging my head against the desk as I was trying to figure out a ruby problem given as homework.  Code Academy has been an unbelievable experience, and I would suggest it for anyone who has struggled to learn how to code on their own.  Here are a few things I walk away from this experience with:
  • Programming is a lot easier to learn when you have a teacher like Jeff.
  • The best practice is muscle memory.  Anytime I did not practice what we learned I usually forgot it by the next week.  Anything I practiced 2-3 times was ingrained my my mind and i never hard to look back a notes.
  • Learning how to 'learn' is as important as learning how to program. 
  • Pair programming is much more important then I ever thought when I cam in on day one.  I learned a lot by working with different people each day / week.
  • The Chicago development community is second to none when it comes to helping people out that are learning. 
  • Passion and persistence can take you further than you expect.
After wrapping up the classroom portion of CA, I participated in my first ever hackathon that was not associated with Code Academy.  The Hackatrain was a unique experience.  While riding the brown line around Chicago, I worked hard at creating something new.  I decided to test myself and see what I was really able to build in 6-7 hours.  My goal was to build a music app that allowed users to upload a MP3.  It would be loaded into a community playlist, and the user could not upload another MP3 until their original one received at least 3 "hell yeah" votes.  If their song ended up getting more than 3 "totally bunk" votes, then it would be removed from the playlist and they could try again.  The goal was to have a streaming playlist my friends and I could use to share new music with each other.  By the time it was ready to present I had created an app that allowed users to sign up, sign in, and upload music to an Amazon S3 bucket.  The music that was uploaded was listed on the main page and a user could select a song and listen to it.  I had to use a backup plan for managing the uploads and it made it a bit hard for me to complete the voting system in time.  It is not the cleanest code, but I walked away with a smile on my face and I did not feel ashamed one bit when showing other more experienced developers what I was able to accomplish.

So, what now?  That is a great question, and I really do not know the answer.  I am still passionate about getting Reading Glue launched.  I submitted an application for the Lean Startup Challenge, and hope to get accepted.  Regardless of the challenge, I will be working hard to prove or disprove the business idea.  At least I now know that I have the skill set to build most ideas that come to mind.  I was also asked to mentor for the summer quarter.  I am really excited to share what I have learned, and I think this will be a great way to stay on my toes.  Something else interesting also came up this week.  I have an interview on Thursday with a local startup for a junior developer position.  When I started this program 11 weeks ago, I had no intentions of making a career change as a software developer.  I slowly fell in love with development, and I am really excited to be seeking opportunities to continue my learning of this craft.

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