Code Fellows Code 201

Earlier this month, I took and completed Code Fellows Code 201 – I’m about to start 301 so you know what that means: retrospective post time!

When I told some of my peers my plans to move on from my previous job as a front end developer for a small nonprofit and take some code classes, one of the first questions was “but you have the job, why?” Well, a few reasons.

The title didn’t encompass all of what I did – remember, small nonprofit? I joked more than once about how if it plugged into a wall someone would assume I was responsible for it. It’s not true, of course. I didn’t handle our VOIP phones.

Also, I was the sole front end developer – so all my learning experience was on the job and usually “can you fix x or do y, right now?” – and for the most part the answer was yes, but I didn’t have an opportunity to work with and learn from more experienced peers, or to do pair programming, or do much of anything in a systematic fashion of understanding concept and then applying it to a problem.

Basically, for all that I managed to tackle a wide range of tough problems and produce practical solutions, I wasn’t getting the full range of experience I needed.

I knew specific solutions to specific problems and had developed strategies for finding more of the same when confronted with more questions, but I didn’t have that mental framework to connect all the dots. Put another way, I knew that I knew things, but I also knew there were gaps in my knowledge – so I wanted to find them. The best way for me to do that was to go for a comprehensive, ground-up approach – so I’d have confidence in what I already knew, and have a better understanding of where I needed to be.

I thought the class was hard (as it was meant to be; they delivered, let’s say) but also delivered; I feel more confident in what I knew before, I learned a lot more in the class, and I’ve got a much better understanding of where I need to go from here. I know the accelerator/bootcamp style of learning isn’t for everyone but I really enjoyed it. Being surrounded by peers all working on the same problems you are is a great environment – for learning and for productivity. I think everyone in my class was surprised at just how much we managed to accomplish in just four weeks.

We went back to the basics and wrote vanilla javascript, properly semantic HTML, and CSS. I got to work by myself, in pair, and in group. One thing you never really do working as a sole developer is collaborative git workflow and merge conflicts – well, I feel a lot more confident handling them now, that’s for sure.

I’ll write some posts on some of the specific projects we did in 201 in the near future, but I’m already looking forward to 301.