Pt. 3 Nuts and Bolts and Frameworks

Editor’s Note: Making the Switch is an ongoing series by Zach Jones, a recent Bellevue Dojo graduate. It focuses on his career transition from truck driver to developer and includes insights, anecdotes and advice. Part 1 and Part 2 can be accessed here.
You might have heard the expression “drinking from a firehose”, but it sounds a bit silly. It may bring up images of a cartoon character holding a firehose in their mouth and blowing up like balloons. Although it sounds absurd, it is a good description of the first two weeks of coding bootcamp. It’s called Web Fundamentals at Coding Dojo and although it only covers the basic building blocks of web design (HTML, CSS and basic JavaScript), it also gives you the nuts and bolts of web development. Last time, I mentioned that Web Fun, the nickname for Web Fundamentals, was a bit of a pain in the butt. Although things have changed a bit since I was there, I learned on day one that we would have a test on HTML/CSS at the end. They said it straight. In just one week, you’ll be able to learn HTML and CSS. You’ll also be able to recreate a website in 5 hours. This kind of shock can be demoralizing. Many people quit within the first week due to the promise of such an intense test. There were a few more who followed it. This is not a shock tactic. I am not trying to scare you or boast about a high rate of attrition. It is not a high rate of attrition. Most of my classmates with whom I started day one were there for graduation. Some people will see a challenge like this and want to take it all in. It can also shake the faith in people who really want to try it. I want to emphasize that there is only one reason you should stop programming. It’s because you don’t enjoy it. We all have days when we are able to take it or leave it. Sometimes we get stuck and frustrated. But, we love writing code. I dream about it. It was that love that got me through the first difficult portion of learning 2 new technologies within a week. I didn’t know where to begin, as I hadn’t edited my Myspace page in years. I relied on the platform to help me get started. Each day was a leap and bounds better than the day before, until Friday when we took the test. I felt confident enough that I could go out and create websites from scratch, having learned a lot from shifting colored blocks around. This was only the first week. The next week was a bit slower. We went over basic JavaScript usages and SQL usages. I also wrote a silly fighting game that allowed two players to run around and fight each other. Although it wasn’t a complete game I was able to create it using HTML and CSS. I felt unstoppable. There was a lot happening in the background of my daily life. I was sleeping in my car, taking a shower at the truck stop whenever I could, talking to my wife every single day, and worrying about many other things. The last day of week 2, which was the graduation day for another cohort, brought a torrential thunderstorm and the parking lot began flooding at an alarming rate. I survived hurricane Katrina. My car was flooded and I had to leave it behind. One of my new friends was kind enough that he let me stay with him for most of the bootcamp. We had a two-week break for Christmas and New Years and then we returned to class on January 6th. During this time, I worked on some HTML and CSS. Because it was something that I enjoyed, I also worked on game design. Even though my game development didn’t involve HTML or CSS, it was already improving. Learning other programming languages and learning adjacent skills will improve your other skills. You’ll discover new patterns that you wouldn’t have thought of with only one type of programming. The next three months will be a bit routine. The first three weeks are spent studying for an exam and then making something with the technology stack that you just learned. You can see that the three weeks follow a pattern. Week one will be focused on the language of your stack. Week two will focus on the framework. Week three will be all about adding small pieces such as password hashing or encryption. Then, you’ll practice putting it all together until the day of your exam. I would arrive at 6 AM and leave at 10 PM every other day, except Sunday. Sometimes, during the

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