Why do a Bootcamp? (or, “Why am I here again?”)

My friend and co-Yarder Bharvi pointed out we’re basically at the end of our first quarter today. We have nine weeks left, which is exciting and a little terrifying at the same time. In nine weeks I’ll be presenting a project I’ve imagined and created to a group of my fellow students, our teachers, local business people and developers.

Today we’re working on a front-end project for our lab, making a website that looks exactly like a .png (picture) file we’ve been given. We’re learning this now so that when we present or even when we create our portfolio sites, we’re able to show them off in the best way as well. In my work life even before the Iron Yard, I’ve learned that it’s important to know what you’re doing, but especially when you’re dealing with people outside of your expertise, it’s really important to look like you know what you’re doing, too.

Today also feels like a natural time to reflect and to remind myself why I’m here and why I chose to do this program. Especially when you leave the manicured path of traditional higher education, it’s easy to ask why do a bootcamp at all? Why not just learn on your own to acquire these skills and build your own portfolio site, etc.?

I definitely tried that path for about a year leading up to this and didn’t get very far. You spend a lot of time blaming yourself for not having the commitment, etc., but at some point you have to really evaluate the methods you’re using as critically as you evaluate yourself. I needed a better tool to accomplish the goal I had set for myself, plain and simple.

Jesse showed us this picture yesterday and it really is the perfect example of what most online tutorials and “learn to code” websites feel like. There’s always seems to be a step (or a thousand steps!) missing and at some point you just need to talk it out with a real live human. You also need some people in the trenches with you because sometimes you don’t even know what question to ask.

You also need the encouragement that comes from a group of like-minded people with the same goals moving in the same direction. Basically, you need to find your tribe. It’s really interesting that most of the people in our Rails class really just want to build things. Our current lab is teaching us to make those things we build look awesome, but the default setting for most of us really seems to be more pragmatic than aesthetic.

It’s just so great to be around people who “get it” and you feel way less nuts for putting your life on hold for three months to create a totally new life. I’m always trying to keep these short, so I’ll keep returning to certain themes, but all I can say is that I wish everyone had the joy of sitting around with a small group of people all facing the same direction who actually want to “do” something. I’ve been a lot of settings where people all face the same direction and want to talk about doing things, or people who want to do things but are all facing different directions. If you can hit this Goldilocks “just right” situation it really is the greatest.

OK, back to my lab/ruby/html/css/bourbon(the program)/bourbon(the drink)!

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