Mary Dickson Diaz

Code, Life, Learning

Tag: the plan (page 2 of 2)

disruptive web development education

Last night, I went to an info session hosted by General Assembly and with representatives from Code Fellows and Ada Academy. I’ve written about the latter two before (all about bootcamps), and while General Assembly is a new find for me, they also have a strong reputation and a variety of classes for learners at all levels. This is a great trio to have in our city!

The panelists mostly confirmed what I already knew: disruptive web education (that is, learning that occurs outside of a traditional university degree program) is real, it works, and it’s here to stay. For people already working as software developers and programmers, it’s frequently necessary to stay relevant.

I was especially buoyed by the Ada panelist who shared, “I was living in the Bay Area, I had just quit my job and was teaching myself Python… now I have my choice of internship options” <–MY PEOPLE~!

I created a bit of an awkward moment by asking about the similarities/differences between the CF and GA accelerator/immersion (3 month) programs. They were diplomatic but didn’t go into details. Here’s a little chart with what I can gather from web research:

School pre-reqs length cost topics job guarantee?
Ada application–women only; newbies ok 1 yr w/6 month internship free Ruby on Rails; JavaScript; html/css; git no (but everyone gets one)
GA application–newbies ok(?) 10-12 weeks $9500-$11500 web development; user experience; other topics w/no scheduled dates no
CF application–fundamentals experience required; newbies directed to foundations classes 3 months $10000 python; ruby on rails; ios; full-stack javascript; web ui yes

So it looks like the big difference is whether or not GA takes newbies for their immersion program–the trade-off being that they will not guarantee you a job after. CF does, because they can be super choosy about who they admit. A prerequisite for admission to one of their accelerator tracks is “hobbyist” level understanding (roughly 1.5 years tinkering with it, gulp) of your stack. CF and GA also offer a wide range of day-long – month-long full and part-time options. Ada does not. (Yet!)

As a take-away, I’m currently enrolled in CF’s April month-long Foundations bootcamp (which has some overlap with the Foundations I class I’m taking in February) and may seriously consider switching to GA’s web development immersion in March. I’m also planning to apply to Ada.

Other useful info I picked up:

  • If you are only going to learn one programing language, make it JavaScript. JavaScript is all the rage and knowing it will make you infinitely more employable. So, learn JavaScript.*
  • After JavaScript, Node and Angular. Know them. Use them. Love them. (This is the first I am hearing of either.)
  • This is huge: the next Ada application cycle opens SOON! February, in fact. They are not super great w/transparency about the process on their website, but they’re still new and I am confident that will change with time. Next cohort begins in May. I sense this is a pretty competitive application process. Also worth investigating: hackbright, a 10 week option based in SF.

*Thanks to Jessie for pointing out that Java and JavaScript are two different things.

I just completed the html/css Code Academy web track and will be working on a secret, non-Wordpress website soon (as well as, sigh, learning JavaScript). Stay tuuunnnned.

the state of the code

Greetings from my last day of work!

A few things have changed since I drafted The Plan, as I expected they might. First, I got a list of textbooks for the class I am taking in February, and it appears we’re learning Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set (front-end programming languages).

This is nice because I started the MIT online class which is intro to computer science and programming using Python, which is a (mostly?) back-end programming language. I have homework due on Monday. I was rolling right along and then in lesson 3 we hit a pretty steep learning curve, my first indication of, yikes, this might be hard.

In light of this, and the fact that I’ll be trying to juggle two similar but distinct programming languages, I may abandon the wizard book. (That, and a programmer friend was like: “The wizard book?? Dear God, woman. Abandon that immediately. Cool videos though!”)

Said programmer friend then dispensed three pieces of wisdom, which I will share here in condensed form:

1. Programming is really cool because you get to build things. It’s nice to make something, and then show someone, and say “I made that.”

2. The majority of time in programming is spent trying to correct errors, and find what’s wrong in a given code, and deal with agonizing syntax issues like a missing comma or misspelled function. If that sort of thing sounds like zero fun to you, you may want to do something else.

3. There was a third piece of wisdom, but I have forgotten it. So, I’ll replace it with this: find and talk to programmer people, get yourself some mentors (and maybe do a better job of taking notes when they are dispensing with the wisdom).

Off to turn in my key. Adventures ahead!

the plan, part 1

Happy new year, friends!

happy new year!

I hope your 2015 is off to a great start. I love the opportunity to reflect on a year well lived, and look down the long, blank slate of a new one. This year is especially dear to me because not only am I headed back to school this month (so to speak), I am also getting married in May, an occasion that will bring many of our friends and family together in a delightful, worlds-colliding event.

I’ve posted the first iteration of what I am calling The Plan, a ~40 hour / week program of self-study, MOOCs, and in-person classes wherein I will learn the foundation of coding and web development, and have the opportunity to work on solo and group projects to demonstrate mastery competence. I’ll talk more about how I chose each element when I blog about them in detail. There are SO MANY free and cheap resources for learning this stuff; I hope my experience can be a resource to someone else just starting out and needing direction.

I don’t expect to be employable as a software developer in four months, and possibly not even in a year, but I do expect that I’ll have a better sense of what type of career I want to pursue working in technology (if any), how that might blend with my passions and previous work experience, and clear steps for moving forward.

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