[CSS] Restarting Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp

Udemy is such an awesome resource, with courses that typically cost $5 – 20 for hours and hours of learning. Seriously, my wishlist on that site runs the gamut and I could spend the rest of my life learning shit (which doesn’t even take into account all the courses on edX and Coursera…).

One often recommended bootcamp is Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp, which is a pretty exhaustive list of web technologies. It’s great as a starting point and I think will serve as a good launchpad for my overview. I can then start knocking out some projects and digging deeper into certain subjects I want to understand better.

Like all web development bootcamps, it starts out with HTML and CSS. This is the part that I often get terribly bored during, as I know HTML very well and CSS a bit. However, this time I’m intent on really knowing CSS forward and back (along with cool things like Bootstrap). I sped through the HTML part yesterday and I’m now starting CSS.  I thought I’d just document some of the things I’ve learned tonight.

  • CSS used to always be “inline”. Separate stylesheets weren’t always a thing. (I didn’t know this!)
  • Sublime Text has a rad shortcut to automatically fill the standard HTML boilerplate. Just type “html” and then press tab. Voila!

  • Error driven development: when you write something you know is going to fail, and then make it work later. (AKA sorta how I run my life).

So that was basically it. The rest was a refresher. I finished Basic CSS tonight, tomorrow is Intermediate CSS + Bootstrap (again), and then I’m back to JavaScript land!

Guess who’s back? Back again.

No, not the Real Slim Shady….the real Full Stack Mom!

So, the last time I posted here I said I was back and I was going to go down the FreeCodeCamp route. Well, you see, I failed.

Some things happened. The big thing is that I ended up getting a new job, one that’s back in the game industry doing production. For a few months, I’ve been focusing on that 100% and using my evenings for relaxation as a result. However, being surrounded by developers again has renewed my focus and my interest in understanding fully what the fuck they’re talking about daily. I want to be able to contribute meaningfully to some codebase someday, and therefore I have to stop thinking about becoming a software engineer and just do it.

I keep getting caught up in this idea that I should complete my degree in Computer Science, but no matter how I look at it — it isn’t realistic. I have a full-time good paying job. I am a single mom of a toddler and I can’t attend onsite school. I can’t afford another $40,000 in student loan debt, nor can I afford to attend classes with cash. So while I’d love to have a fancy B.S. in C.S. on my resume, it’s just not in the cards anytime soon.

I keep going back to the concept of a boot camp, but honestly there are only two “good ones” that are self-paced: Bloc (which goes heavy into Ruby/Rails) and Flatiron School (which was recently acquired by WeWork and has a more appealing syllabus). However, I’ve looked at it forwards and backwards, and it’s basically the same damn curriculum as this course I purchased on Udemy for $11.99 last year.

This is a pretty great list of things to learn:

  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JavaScript
  • Bootstrap
  • SemanticUI
  • DOM Manipulation
  • jQuery
  • Unix(Command Line) Commands
  • NodeJS
  • NPM
  • ExpressJS
  • REST
  • MongoDB
  • Database Associations
  • Authentication
  • PassportJS
  • Authorization

So starting tomorrow night, I’m going to devote at least an hour per night to working my way through this course. And then I’m going to go down the MOOC rabbit hole and pick up courses all over the place and fill my knowledge tank with all sorts of things. 🙂 I’ll definitely be back here, I promise.

Back to It!

Hey, so……*gulp*….it’s been 5 months.

Guess how much programming bootcamp I did in that time? The answer is zero. I have a pretty good excuse though — I moved to Austin, TX! Turns out that planning, coordinating, and actually executing a move to a new state when you’re a full-time working single mom is a CHALLENGE and a half. Who knew?

I also obtained a shiny new job working for one of my favorite companies, YNAB! I’m their newly minted Community Manager, and I get to support a really cool product and talk with really passionate users all day. It’s pretty great!

But, I haven’t abandoned my desire to become a software engineer. In fact, this recent Google manifesto news has fed the fire. There’s nothing like someone saying “you are biologically predisposed to sucking at this” to make me want to prove someone wrong. Joke’s on you, assface.

The Gameplan, Now:

Because I’ve taken a long break, I cannot remember a damn thing about what I was doing in Flatiron’s Online Community Bootcamp program. I was really enjoying it, but the $149/month fee feels prohibitive right now. I blame my new budget-aware life thanks to my new job!

But since I’m at a ‘starting fresh’ point, I decided to go back to FreeCodeCamp. The curriculum is similar to Flatiron, but it actually seems to have more community support. And that whole “free” thing sounds great. I asked Flatiron if they had a scholarship for women for their $149/month plan, and they do not. We’ll see if I still feel that curriculum is needed after I plug my way through FCC. Flatiron jumped me into Ruby pretty quick, whereas FCC has me in JavaScript (I finished html/css/bootstrap already), which is preferred for me.

My time is just as limited as it was before. I get a few hours each night to work on things, if I’m lucky. And my next task for FCC is to whip up a little demo portfolio site in Codepen.io, which I hope to do tonight. This process will be slow, but there’s no rush. I have a good job that I’m enjoying very much, so my transition might take a lot longer.

Onward to cool things!

“Bootcamps are a waste of time and money”

If you do any internet research at all about the topic of web development bootcamps, you’ll inevitably come across posts from people with the following statements:

  • You can’t possibly become a developer after teaching yourself 
  • You can’t possibly be a developer with only 12 weeks of instruction
  • You can’t possibly be a developer without a CS degree
  • You can’t learn to be a developer if you’re only studying part time and you have a FT job 
  • You can’t possibly make $100,000 doing this right out of bootcamp 

When people have said stuff like this to me, I take it as a challenge. I research everything so it’s always amusing when people assume that I’m jumping into this and throwing down all this money without realizing any of the implications.

I don’t believe a bootcamp is for everyone, but I do think it’s right for me.

  • I can’t afford more college debt
  • I can’t take months off of work
  • I already have a decade of experience working in tech 
  • I already know how to code (pretty damn proficient in HTML/CSS and decent knowledge of Python, JavaScript, and Ruby)
  • I already understand Agile and test-driven development 
  • I’ve already written and deployed code at companies 
  • I already “think like a programmer” in many aspects
  • I’m a self-starter who has taught myself pretty much everything
  • I don’t excel in typical college settings (trust me, I’ve tried)
  • I don’t have the expectation of making 6 figures right out of bootcamp. In fact, I don’t have the expectation of leaving my job at all. 
  • I’m a “side hustle queen”. I have 30 ebooks on Amazon. I have dozens of niche WordPress marketing blogs. I have a real estate license. I’m always looking for ways to make money on the side and have an entrepreneurial spirit/fire. 
  • Finally, I have the money to spend. I believe that someone could just as easily do this by using free resources like Free Code Camp (which is amazing by the way) and self-teaching, but the element of spending $150/month is motivational for me. 

I don’t think this is a get rich quick scheme. I view this as a learning opportunity that may or may not turn out to be something. That’s why I don’t want to drop $17,000 on Hack Reactor. But I don’t fault people who do. Trade schools are nothing new. 

Sure, most big companies aren’t going to be thrilled to hire all these bootcamp graduates. But I have to believe that a junior web developer who is willing to work for less money, who has busted their ass working on personal projects to build up a robust portfolio, who goes above and beyond to learn software engineering concepts outside of the bootcamp curriculum, who understands algorithms and logic, has to be employable somewhere. And I intend to work hard and be in that category, rather than expect I’ll be handled a new career path on a silver platter.

Bootcamping as a full time working single mom

When researching web development programs, one common element kept coming up: the need to take 12-16 weeks off of work and go to a full time program. No matter how I squinted or turned my head, I couldn’t see that happening. I have a great full-time job. I have an 18 month old son.  I have to pay for (half of) full-time childcare. I can’t afford to take 3+ months off work, nor is it a feasibility if I want to keep said awesome job. 

I realized quickly that a fully online program was my only real option. Thankfully, they exist! But, the best/most prestigious ones (Hack Reactor, for example), were fully “immersive”. That means that they have full-time schedules all day long, live classes, live pair programming. That sounds amazing, but again — I’d have to take months off work. Not possible.

There’s also other fully online programs with one big expensive upfront fee ($8000+) such as Bloc. I can’t swing that kind of financial commitment.

The Community Bootcamp at Flatiron School was the only logical option for me. I get the same rigorous curriculum as their onsite and paid-up-front programs, but I only have to pay $150/month for unlimited access at my own pace. They have forums and Slack channels, and an interactive questions software that allows me to get help in near real-time from other students who have passed that section. I can pause my membership if months get too busy at work or with my son. I can work on the program on my own time.

Being able to do this on my own time is important. My daily schedule is as follows:

– 7am wake up. Feed my son breakfast, get him dressed, start working while he plays.

– 10am nanny starts, I go upstairs and work during the day.

– 5pm nanny leaves and I’m back on “mom duty”. We play, do dinner, bath time and bedtime is at 7.

– 7-8pm chore time. I clean, do dishes, laundry, etc.

– 8-11pm programming boot camp time. Fight the urge to veg out on the couch and watch TV or play a game. 

– 11pm shower and bed. 

As you can see, I don’t get a ton of “me time”. I’m lucky that my son sleeps well so that I get 3 hours every night, but typically there are other interruptions. Other work from my job that I need to get done. More chores. It’s a lot to take on, but I know it’s temporary. I’ll progress slower than the people who can dive into this as their sole responsibility for 3 months, but hopefully my slower pace will allow me to retain the knowledge better than my previous attempts at “cramming”. 

If I can do it, anyone can!

hello, world!

Dude, I’m taking the plunge. After years of saying “I’m going to do this”. After years of starting the mission and promptly aborting it. After months of procrastination after finally making the decision. I’m becoming a freaking web developer, and y’all can’t stop me.

I’ve joined up with Flatiron School‘s online community bootcamp program to learn fullstack web development, and I’m stoked about it. My first assignment for them was to start a blog, and I was like “oh sweet, this is something I can totally do because I have 3,489 blogs already.”

Why I’m learning software development

There’s so many reasons, I’m not sure where to start. I’ll just go ahead and list them in no particular order.

  1. I want to work in a field that’s remote-friendly.
  2. I’m sick of only having “soft skills”.
  3. I’ve been working in tech for a decade, with software engineers. I’ve done the project management thing, I’ve gotten many glimpses behind the curtain. Now it’s time to actually see what it’s like to be writing the code and deploying it for the world to see.
  4. I’m a single mom of a toddler, and I want a future-proof job to provide a good life for the two of us.
  5. I have been making websites since I was 11 years old, just never from scratch.
  6. I like to make and build things, and have zero art skills and never will.
  7. I love computers and technology.
  8. I want to have my own business someday, and being a freelance web developer sounds like a great way to do it.
  9. I know enough to get me in trouble. I want to know enough to get me out of trouble.

So there you have it. I’m not quitting this time. I’m going to complete this program, kick some ass, make some cool shit, and be an actual developer instead of just wishing I was. Wish me luck?