Tag Archives: Epicodus

A few links to help you overcome impostor syndrome…

– 14 Coding Challenges to Help you Train Your Brain

A programmer friend sent me this interesting essay on how to approach programming:

– Learnable Programming 

Also, I like to troll this subreddit /r/learnprogramming

– Learn programming

That’s it. I spent two hours on a bug yesterday and was convinced I was the worst programmer to ever roam this world. Turns out, I had just called the wrong variable name. #life

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Despite the tears…

Attending Epicodus has been one of the best decisions of my life. Yeah, it’s hard. Don’t kid yourself, programming is hard. Fucking. Hard. But it’s oh so worth it. My brain thanks me every day. My body, not so much. Too much pad see ew these days. 

These past five weeks have been more challenging than my entire four years in college. I didn’t know what I was working towards in college, I know what I’m working towards here. I wish there were these bootcamps when I was eighteen and unsure of my trajectory, instead of sinking myself into $20K in student loan debt trying to figure it out through a traditional route. But hey, it’s never too late for second chances. 

That’s probably why I’m so hard on myself — especially when I have a bad day at Epicodus and I feel like I’m not advancing as quickly as I want to be. I metaphorically curl up in the fetal position and I have to convince myself that I’m not the court jester. But damn, does it feel so good when things click. I want to fist bump Stephen Hawking when I fix a bug. I want to climb every mountain. I mostly want to curl up in my bed with a dog and read Junot Diaz. 

I have a lot riding on this. Everyone at the program does. That’s why I know that we’re all going to be amazing programmers one day. They have that desperate hunger in their eyes. Their lives are a Kanye West quote, “my life is dope and I do dope shit.” (Yeah, I just quoted KW. Never again, I promise.)

I’ve heard a lot of negative responses about bootcamps from programmers I know — especially those who went through the traditional route and majored in cs / engineering in college. “There is no way that you can learn everything and expect a 100K job after four months.” 

Of course you can’t learn everything in four months — but you can learn *how* to think like a programmer, which is far more important. I’ve completely reshaped my problem-solving skills. (And yes, I do Google a lot of things.) The old-brain wouldn’t recognize the new-brain now. And no, I do not expect anything in the six-figure range for my first dev job because a.) This is Portland. b.) I have low standards. c.) I want to make sure I know what the hell I’m doing first. 

I want to walk away from Epicodus knowing how to get myself unstuck on a problem. 

This week we’re learning about SQL. It makes me uncomfortable, I’m constantly stuck and I’ve never felt stupider.

That means I’m learning, right? 😉

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“We’re making software, girl.”

My pair partner yesterday exclaimed this to me enthusiastically as we watched our Ruby app run in the command line. I think he even threw in an air pump at one point. All I could feel was my heart sinking and thinking that “the UI looks terrible. Not enough spacing. I’m a terrible programmer.”

I know, I know. Even I recognize that I’m going to get an aneurysm one day from my lack of self-confidence. I give you full permission to shake me. Remember dear readers (all five of you and the one mean commenter), self-disgust is what fuels me.

Okay, so I didn’t *quite* make Ruby my prison bitch last week, but I felt like I moved up a little bit this week in the food chain. I’m no longer plankton… just krill. One by one until I’m eventually a coding shark. Or is it coding whale? I can’t remember who is the top of the food chain.

Ruby syntax is still hard for me to believe. Am I crazy or is it just one big prank? I feel like there is literally a method for everything. How is it possible that I can grasp objects in Ruby more than I could in Javascript? (Keep in mind that I could not retain anything about objects in JS, so this is a big fucking step for this little has-been plankton.)

I’m not ready this week to move on from OO in Ruby. I’m going to spend every waking hour until I no longer have nightmares about not being able to tell the difference between a class and a module.

On top of the shitshow that is programming bootcamp, I’ve accepted a freelance writing position at my former company so I can continue to fund my terrible life choices in Portland. i.e. being able to afford Chipotle every day.

In my former life, I was a writer. I wrote screenplays, worked in T.V., social media, brand blogger… I even wrote a YA book that went stagnant. Let’s just say I got burned out on writing. Exhausted, really. I loved writing so much I wanted to get my MFA in it. (I know, shoot me or shoot my wallet. I can’t tell which one will hurt more.)

But lately I’ve been thinking of going into technical writing… am I crazy? I’m crazy. I’m a recovering screenwriter for chrissakes. But… but it combines both my loves! Tech + writing. But again… I’m still just trying to explore where I stand in tech. Who the hell knows… it’s only been four weeks.

 

Now I’m pulling 70 hour weeks, trying to find the right balance between work, school and burrito time. I haven’t exercised since I arrived in Portland, I swear my muscles have atrophied , I miss the idea of a real home and I’m tired of living out of my suitcase. I’ve morphed into an in-real-life bachelorette frog.

I just have to keep telling myself, “you’re making software, girl” to get me through the long weeks.

Because at the end of the day, it’s fucking cool.

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Today sucked and I’m stupid.

I didn’t manage to solve anything today. And it’s only Monday! I have four more days this week to feel even more stupid! Programming bootcamp is starting to feel like a prison courtyard. You only really get ten minutes of being outside in the sun before you’re forced to go back into solitary confinement.

 

I’m pretty fucking tired of feeling stupid.

So guess what, world?

This week, I’m going to make Ruby my bitch.

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Rubyist Enthusiast ( :/ …. ? )

“Back to the grind, bitches.” — Amo to me, after we couldn’t solve a damn thing all day last week.

The above statement perfectly sums up every day at Epicodus.

My anxiety has reached an all-time peak. We have officially moved on to Ruby. I can’t tell if I’m a burgeoning Rubyist or just simply feigning interest. Here comes the confession gauntlet: I’m fucking terrible at Ruby. WHICH IS RIDICULOUS! I feel like the syntax is almost mocking me because it’s practically English. My issue is that I’m still overcomplicating things when there are so many methods out there that can sum it all up in one line of code.

I’ve lurked on other students’ GitHubs and I’m fucking embarrassed. My 20 lines of code vs their four lines. It’s like watching a train-wreck — the train-wreck being a euphemism for a girl who tragically graduated with a liberal arts degree.

It’s embarrassing how bad I’m at with Ruby. It’s embarrassing how much harder I have to work at it vs. other people. I seriously feel like I was born without the left side of my brain. Where did all my logic genes go? Did I just read too much YA fiction that I stamped it all out? (Sorry I’m not sorry that I’m obsessed with love triangles.)

Most common/annoying phrases I’ve heard all week:

“Ruby is so easy.”

“I feel like I’m sailing through this section!”

“I LOVE Ruby!”

“Ruby is MY jam!” (<– most annoying one)

“It’s so straightforward!”

I’ve been reading Chris Pine’s “Learn to Program”, desperately hoping that the man will have some answers in there. My review so far? He’s pretty entertaining. The man named his three kids after three programming languages for chrissakes. He lives, breathes, eats and shits code. I’d bet my nonexistent salary that he’s a loud and proud Rubyist.

I just wish I could say the same for myself. 😦

It’s getting harder and harder with each passing week to find exactly where I fit in tech. I keep looking at the end (worrying about not being able to land a job) instead of the journey (cheesy, I know). But I can’t help it. I love stewing in my own neuroses. I don’t know how to live any other way. The power of negative thinking.

I do have two recurring thoughts that lurk in the back of my mind: I love design… I love html, css and jquery. I also like BDD and testing things. I think I’d be good as a designer or in QA.

The issue is that I can’t tell if I’m even good at either of those things. So it’s back to my role in tech still being a giant upside-down question mark.

It’s 10:35 pm on a Sunday night. I’m once again frantically cramming and having my weekly nervous breakdown.

I didn’t think I could get anymore desperate since I started this program, but I’m desperately hoping I’ll be able to say “Ruby is MY jam!” this week as we go deeper into it.

Wish me luck. Or send me money. Help me, I’m poor. 😦

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I’m about to lose my shit.

I got three words for you: object oriented design.

What. The. Fuck. ?

Last week was a complete blur. I felt like I was at a party that I wasn’t invited to and everyone was awkward for me. I think I managed to be the “strong” pair for only one day . The rest of the week? I was dead weight. I clawed at my pair’s feet almost everyday, desperately trying to keep up with them, stewing in paranoia that they deeply regretted pairing up with me. I think I look smart on the outside, which manages to fool people when they choose to partner up with me in the morning. (There’s a lesson in racial stereotypes somewhere in there for you.)

Five minutes in, they quickly realize that I have no idea what the hell is going on. I can only fake it for so long.

 

This post is going to be short because I honestly don’t even have it in me to sum up what exactly object oriented design even is. I understand the objects part –that’s a given — but the prototypal inheritance… writing functions within objects… creating methods… that shit is way over my head.  My GitHub looks like someone vomited all over it. Embarrassing, disgusting code.

I don’t even have that much time to absorb it. I have no choice but to move on to Ruby since we start it tomorrow. I’m currently spending my Sunday night crying to Jenny Lewis and trying to make room in my brain to learn Ruby syntax.

It’s been a pretty bad week. I even took a tequila shot from my 18-year-old college roommate on Friday night. I can’t tell what’s more shameful, my code or the fact that I did that.

Here’s to hoping this week is better.

 

 

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“Don’t worry, you’re a girl.”

I had my feminist awakening pretty late in life. I was too young and ignorant to understand what it fully meant at eighteen. I couldn’t appreciate the richness of it. Six years later, I’ve put away the boxed wine and am sentient enough now to recognize social inequality when I see it. I’m still a newbie when it comes to third wave feminism, but I’m learning. I do not use the term “woman of color” lightly, but I owe it to myself and to my future daughter to understand all the nuances that come with it. I’m still pretty damn ignorant at every other aspect in life though — especially when it comes to for loops. (Where the fuck do you put the var ‘i’?)

Do you understand how stressful programming bootcamps are? You learn a crapton of stuff everyday, you plead with your brain to understand a fraction of it and retain it. It gets worse because it repeats all over again the next day. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s like the worst kind of “Groundhog Day” imaginable. Except, instead of dying over and over again, you just feel really, really stupid.

The frustration only gets exacerbated when you feel like you are at the bottom of the barrel in the class. You suddenly feel very uncomfortable in your own skin and the gender gap in tech becomes even more palpable out of insecurity. Out of sixty people at Epicodus, a quarter of them (I think, maybe less) are girls.

I am sick and fucking tired of hearing, “Don’t worry, you’re a girl. You’ll probably get a job after this despite your lack of technical skills. Tech companies want to hire more women anyways.”

Do you hear that white noise? The sound of a male mansplaining how the tech world works to a young girl in her twenties?  Do you really think it’s easy for me to land a job because I’m a girl, a minority and I happen to remember a few jQuery functions? That it’s acceptable for me to scrape by without really knowing how to code? That I can bat my eyelashes and miraculously sneak past the technical portion of the job interview? (Joke’s on you anyways, I’m growing out my eyebrows!)

I have heard this line come from quite a few mouths from the program, especially after I tell them how frustrated I am.  I think they used the line to try to console me, but it isn’t consoling, it’s far from consoling. It just pigeonholes women in tech even more. It just frustrates me even more.

It frustrates us even more.

Calm down, privileged men. Do not misconstrue me as a misandrist or get defensive. Just sit down and listen for once.

I chose Epicodus because they were actively trying to bridge that gap — that inequality gap doesn’t just include gender but encompasses a lot of socioeconomic factors. I liked that Michael (the founder) gave us a talk on day 1 about how he wanted to make programming more accessible. He acknowledged his privilege growing up and how he was now in a position to help those who didn’t grow up around tech or those that were told they couldn’t do it. Fucking cool, isn’t it? This program has an “all walks of life” mentality and for someone who has moved four cities in four years, I’ve witnessed a lot of characters in life so I’ve been fortunate enough to reach a point in my growth where I am more understanding and patient when it comes to people.

Or at least, I thought I was. Because my patience is wearing thin these days. It’s time to ‘lean the fuck in’, boys.

Yes, it’s still a boys club in tech, and yes, it’s a boys club during the program. It’s not going to change overnight. I’ve forsaken my idealism years ago when I found out that Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes were together. Listen, the tech world isn’t going to change in eighteen weeks or in a few years, but damnit, it’s going to change sometime within in my lifetime. Brick by brick, commit by commit.

Everyday, I am inspired by the girls in the program. We take in the comments, roll our eyes and we’re here to prove them wrong.

In the words of Kathleen Hanna, “Girls to the fucking front”.

 

(Also, for the love of sweet jesus, please just explain to me what the hell is the difference between the each and the forEach loop. I’m dying over here.)

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Officially dubbed, “Git Shit”.

I’m once again ten years behind.

So, in laymen’s terms, Git is basically a time traveler vehicle where you can store versions of your files at different times and you can toggle back and forth between them just in case you tragically screwed up and need to go back and reference something. Right? Some Sleepy Hollow shit?

I never claimed to be an expert in this. I’ve been told time and time again that “Programming is patience.” Yeah well, try spending two days trying to understand what exactly the hell a version control system does and suddenly your liberal arts degree doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

Don’t bother with the Team Treehouse videos, it won’t make any sense to you. They might as well be speaking eskimo. 50 words for snow? How about a hundred commands that make no sense?

Here is the sparknotes version (after I hustled a smart kid from class to explain git to me like I was five):

Once you’re in the command line:

pwd = the current status of your current directory

cd = change directory, switches you to the directory that you want to go to, just type it in after the cd

 

ls = a list of the files in your current directory

ls -a = a list of your hidden git files in your current directory

git init = creates a new repository

git status = another version of the

git add . = adds all modified files that you worked on. Don’t forget the period!

git commit -m “type whatever you want” = commits that fucker, essentially “saves” it

To push to github, sign into your github, create a new repository, grab the git  add origin master link or whatever, copy and paste that shit into the terminal, go on and grab the next link that says git push -u origin master or whatever, copy that and enter it into the terminal and boom. Go ahead and log into your username and type in your password and there ya go. Pushed to github.

Lesson number two: the command line is crazy powerful and an adrenaline rush. Once you karate kid the hell out of it, its basically yours for the taking.

Fake it till you make it, right?

 

Helpful links:

The dummy guid to Git: http://rogerdudler.github.io/git-guide/

Try it out for yourself: https://try.github.io/

A nice and simple explanation of git by a bro. Too bad he didn’t bother to upload parts 2 and 3:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRTckrrCME4

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Day Four of Epicodus and I’ve aged 10 years.

 

     var greeting = “Hello World”;

     greeting;

Well, it’s the end of day four of my 18-week, voluntary prison sentence. AKA programming bootcamp. I didn’t cry during class, which is a big improvement over the last few days. I can’t say the same for my programming skills though. I am completely, utterly, fucking overwhelmed. I’ve been thrown to the lions and it turns out, the lions don’t even want to eat me. They’re too busy being embarrassed for me for not being able to understand what a forEach loop does.

CAVEAT: I am not a positive person or an analytical thinker. Which, unfortunately for me, is a great disservice to me on my journey to becoming a developer.

At this point, I don’t even know if I’ll ever become a programmer/developer/middle-class. It’s only the first week, but I’m already ten years behind. I’m frustrated and am already having thoughts of dropping out before it’s too late to get refunded back my tuition.

It kills me.

These thoughts are killing me. Because I’m not sure you understand how badly I wanted this.

I wanted Portland. I wanted Epicodus. I was desperate for a change in my life. I’ve done every odd-job known to mankind. Hell, I’ve pitched a t.v. show to MTV. I was a pizza-delivery driver for Domino’s back in college, where an ex-Juggalo coworker threatened to kill me. I’ve written blogs for a counter-culture, motorcycle Americana apparel site. I’ve done it all. The thing that set me off on this journey though was working for a dinky Facebook gaming start-up in San Francisco three years ago. It was my first job out of college and I was hired as a receptionist. In a company of around 30-50 people, there were a total of 5-7 women.  I think there were two in QA, a few in art, the office manager and me. When I started, there were no female engineers. When I got fired, there was one.

The men were baffled by me. One of them was even shocked I graduated from college.

“I feel like you’re just working to survive.”

And I was. That’s what any job is. Is any of it fulfilling? Fuck no. They just didn’t seem to understand that I was just lost. Completely, utterly lost.

During my San Francisco years, I went on to work for several more start-ups, doing meaningless jobs with meaningless titles. The entire time, I silently watched from the other side of the office. I would sit there and watch developers and programmers have stand-ups, go to conference rooms with glass walls, take phone-calls, pace around with furrowed eyebrows… what the hell do they do during the day? How hard could it be?

Turns out, it’s really, fucking, hard.

I did have very grandiose thoughts coming into a bootcamp. My ultimate goal was to be able to know enough where I could work remotely. I could travel and work. Be part of the Pajama Class. I didn’t want to make 100K in San Francisco. I wanted to break middle-class. 45K was just fine with me. It wasn’t just about the fiscal aspect, I just didn’t want to be lost anymore. Now, I realize nothing could transpire out of this. I’m so knee-deep in shit that I can’t even tell what’s shit anymore.

I picked Epicodus because I liked the idea of pair programming. Two minds are better than one. Strength in numbers. Turns out, the pairing is more like “Nuclear Engineer Physicists” to closeted-wino. You can guess which one I am.

Here is my current assessment: the ones who excel are the ones with experience in a previous language. They understand the foundation. Their code is clean. They can talk out loud, map out a way to the solution and actually write the code. My experience? Besides a few on and off again months of tinkering with Code Academy, a few videos on Team Treehouse and the pre-class assignment… absolute shit knowledge of how this stuff works. My mind is completely empty and it terrifies me. I’m an empty array and I need someone to push(); information in my head. (A little joke, neh?)

I’m a hard worker. I know I’m a hard worker. I’ve been in Portland less than a week but only know one street — how to get from my temporary housing situation to the school. I pretend to understand what goes on from 9 am to 5 pm and I rush home and work from 6 pm to midnight, reviewing, trying to understand the day’s code. Oh and I cry. I’ve cried more in the past four days than I did at my grandmother’s funeral. I even had to step away on day 2 so I could run to the bathroom and cry in secret. I bring a bottle of advil to class now.

What terrifies me is that people are having their “Eureka!” moment and I haven’t had mine.

I don’t know if I ever will. The only thing I can do now is code through my tears. I do not know pain. I do not know hunger. I have no choice now but to pray (I’m conveniently pious for an atheist) that one day — it might not even happen during the bootcamp — but one day, things will click for me too.

Not just in programming, but for everything.

Oh, let’s not forget I also got served with a $175 ticket for not validating my ticket on my iPhone for the Max today.

Thanks a ton, Portland.

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