DBC Phase 3

If you aren’t following thatwifejenna on Snapchat you might not have heard yet – I’m officially a Dev Bootcamp graduate! It’s the last day of 2015 and can officially declare my 2015 New Years Resolution a success. I have the skills and confidence necessary to head out and land myself a kick-ass Silicon Valley job in tech. Hooray!

Last time I wrote I was on the train, mentally preparing myself for our Phase 2 assessment. It was seven hours total of intense coding and problem-solving, and toward the end I felt like I was going to need to start physically holding my eyelids open with one hand while I typed with the other. We built object literals using Javascript and the bare bones of a site using Rails (the bar for passing this part seems to be set at correctly setting up user authentication for the site). My initial assessment review hinted at a hard repeat, but once again I was offered a pass benefit repeat. I knew I couldn’t put the kids through another three weeks of me being gone so much and once again decided to move forward with my cohort.

If there is any phase of DBC that I would gladly repeat, it would be Phase 3. The first week was spent building an eCommerce site and refining our RSpec skills, next a few days on Javascript, and then the last full seven days we were split into groups of four to build our final projects. Final projects were my favorite part of the entire program because it was a reminder that I don’t have to be excellent at everything to be a competent web developer. I was able to take on the role of Lead Designer for our app and would happily sit in the moon chair for hours fiddling with colors and columns and grids until it felt right. I saw how I not only a good team member, I was in many ways crucial to the success of the project. After weeks of feeling behind it was gratifying to become the go-to person in the cohort when people had questions about CSS or the visual design for their project.

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 The screenshot above is from my profile page on our Accountabuddy app, visit http://accountabuddy.herokuapp.com/

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DBC, Phase 1 week 3 & Phase 2

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Portra 800, Pentax 645, Zeiss f/2
I miss you film! And regular doses of adequate amounts of sleep. We’ll be reunited again soon, I promise.

I’m splurging on one of my favorite outlets on the train this morning, working through my thoughts and experiences by writing this post. The last week of Phase 1 was an emotional whirlwind for me and the first week of Phase 2 was intense from the first hour. It’s Friday and today marks my 12th day in a row spent on campus. I screwed up my laptop a bit typing in errant terminal commands and that might mean I have to work from DBC this Saturday and Sunday too. My locker there has spare clothes, food, deodorant, sleep mask, etc so I’m counting it as just about moves in (I never sleep over though, that is verboten!).

To back up by a week, the last week of Phase 1 was where we faced down our first assessment. We had 3.5 hours to refactor and write code and work on basic scheme design (as we geared up for diving into Active Record and one-to-many/many-to-many relationships). I’ve never tested well and the pressure got to me about 3/4 of the way through. I asked for help and the mentor who came over did a lovely job assisting me, lending compassion re: my tears, and reminding me that the clock was counting down and it was time for me to get to it in order to get through as much as possible. The next day I had a code review and was told that I was being given what they call a Pass Benefit Repeat. This means they felt fairly confident I would be able to keep up in Phase 2, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge and I would gain a lot from giving Phase 1 another go-around. I declined the repeat and chose to pass, largely because I couldn’t handle the thought of telling the kids that they have to endure an three weeks of not seeing me. At least, not if I have the choice to prevent it.

I actually anticipated being told that I’m a bit behind in the material, but the way the news was delivered made it a lot harder to process. Continue reading

DBC, Phase 1, Week 2

Week 2 was focused on working with objects in Ruby. I thought my effort/output was mediocre mid-week, but I was proud of my work and the way I focused on Friday. Slacking means I have to make up for things on the weekends and I don’t want to keep operating that way because the more make-up time I have, the more I need to be away from the kids or subtract from my “personal renewal” time on the weekends.

On Tuesdays we do an hour called Engineering Empathy, focused on diving into the soft skills that will make us better people and employees. This particular session asked us to give voice to our “inner critic”, and I left that hour feeling rather terrible about myself. I don’t do well dwelling in this area, particularly because my inner critic has been largely shaped by the vacuous rumblings of internet trolls. I left early (at 6pm), talked/cried it out with TH, cried on the train the next morning, cried in my counseling session, took a mini nap on the couch while listening to sad songs, and woke up finally feeling ready to stop letting my inner critic dictate my productivity for the day. I didn’t learn much about coding over that 12 hours, but I feel like I worked through learning some important things about myself.

Speaking of crying, Continue reading

DBC, Phase 1, Week 1

On the first day of DBC I learned something very important that all new students should know – bring dinner! They will provide breakfast and lunch for you, but dinner will come around and you’ll feel torn between staying to code and leaving to feed your rumbling tummy. And I don’t have dietary restrictions, but those who do were left thinking that they should have emailed beforehand to inquire what food would be available they the could plan accordingly. So, if you’re reading this series because you’re interested in attending DBC as well — You’re Welcome.

In other news, I’m so tired, all the time. I think this is due to the long days spent trying to shove as much information in my brain as possible, and the constant feeling that I’m not working hard enough and I’m not going to make it to the next Phase without being held back. This is an area where I’m really struggling.

The days generally have two blocks of coding, 10:00am-12:30pm, and 2:00pm-4:30pm. The rest of the time is spent on things like lecture, breakout (a chance to ask questions to instructors in small groups), standup meetings with the entire program, writing feedback for our pairs and the program, and group standup meetings at the end of the day. After 6:00pm there are presentations/lectures we are encouraged to attend, and all of us try to figure out how much longer we can force ourselves to stay and code/read before we reach the Point of Procrastination and are wasting our time. Actually, the last decision I make at the end of the day is how long I can stay until I am getting home so late that I won’t get enough sleep.

I think I’m not alone in feeling very tired, but simultaneously feeling like I’m not spending enough time coding each day. It requires a lot of trust in the program. They can see my input and my output, they will let me know if I’m not keeping up (their goal is 100% graduation rate, 9-weeks onsite for each person). All sorts of people graduate from this program, get great jobs, and then write blog posts on Medium about their fantastic experience. I can get there too, but I’ll need to trust in the process to make it happen.

The reason I can trust in the process? Continue reading

DBC Weeks 5-9

Publishing this post marks the end of Phase 0, the remote part-time (part-time, ha!) portion of the Dev Bootcamp 19-week program. I spent my last weekend of freedom drinking in the sunshine and soaking up smiles from my kids before a very demanding 9-weeks of coding kicks off.

You can read my thoughts about Weeks 1-4 here. Weeks 5 and 6 of Phase 0 were focused on Ruby. Week 5 was when I realized that I can’t treat the course like a to-do list, checking challenges off and feeling satisfied by the minimum effort. I should be working quickly and efficiently to complete the challenges, but then it’s my responsibility to use up my remaining time in the week (nights and weekends) to pursue personal challenges that will solidify my understanding. Otherwise I’m going to need to repeat.

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