Until about 9 months ago, I had always been intimidated by programming and computer science. I knew it was a personal weakness in a world where technology is becoming increasingly integrated with everyday life. Ironically, I had been told by several programmer friends that I would do well in the field (more on that later) but with such a limited knowledge base I suspected such a transition would pose an insurmountable challenge.
Looking back, I excelled in math throughout grade school and college yet never found it all that enjoyable because it just didn’t feel useful to me at the time. The question, which I had never pondered, was why did I excel in math?
It wasn’t until I fell down a path of entrepreneurship that I became aware my potential for complex problem solving and how that applied to my academic prowess in mathematics. I also developed a knack for riding the line between efficiency and laziness, which as it turns out is a great skill to have in programming.
Fast forward a few years and the magic of working in sales, marketing, customer service, and organizing people has worn off. While these are all fundamental aspects of running a small business, it was during this time that a few things happened.
For a small business, hiring a webmaster can be costly. To offset the cost and save our webmaster time, I learned some essential debugging skills. I also took advantage of free online courses to get a better grasp of HTML and CSS. Having a basic understanding of these languages, I had finally broken the ice with my relationship to coding.
Serendipitously, my wife’s aunt shared with me a compelling article from the New York Times about coding bootcamps, the sky-high demand for programmers, and how people with limited programming backgrounds could learn everything they need for a well-paid entry-level developer position in a relatively short amount of time. Needless to say this got the gears turning.
After a couple months of self-taught fundamentals and researching different online courses, I discovered Flatiron School’s online Full Stack Web Development course. The decision to enroll in a coding school was daunting, but it was a no-brainer. With my amazing wife’s full support, I committed to a big career change. I worked with my business partners and team members to slowly phase me out of the company operations so I could enroll full time. I made it a personal goal to complete the course and be placed in a full time position by the end of 2016.
At the time of this writing, I’ve completed over 150 labs through Learn Verified and I’m loving every second. Those “aha!” moments after solving a problem and the sheer bliss of getting something right on the first try has me hooked! I find myself excited to tackle my next coding challenge.
I now recall taking Intro to Computers in 9th grade circa 2001 when flatscreens didn’t exist and we were building basic HTML websites on Dreamweaver when it was relatively new. I sometimes wonder what my path would be like now had I not felt so intimidated by the vast unknowns and ever-changing trends of technology. What I can say now is that my future, while still largely unknown, feels pretty darn bright.