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My Software Engineering Journey + 3 Tips I Would've Given Myself

My Journey

Earlier today I completed my programming bootcamp at Flatiron School. I felt it would be nice to reflect a little bit on my journey and share a few tips that would've helped me before I started the program.

While I was in college studying something completely unrelated to programming, I had a desire to create a health & nutrition site. After some searching, I found Blogspot to be the easiest way to get up and running. As I wrote the first line of HTML (putting my myspace days to use), I felt a sensation. I would write one line, and refresh the the site to see how the changes were applied. After two weeks I showed a friend of mine who already had website up and running what I had been working on. I'll never forget his response, he looked to me and said "This looks alright, but it feels like a 90's site." After he said this, it forced me to take a second look at the site and analyze it with a new perspective. He was right. Fortunately, he introduced me to He emailed me some template files and told me to install a FTP client once I followed the Wordpress' installation instructions. I quickly felt that the potential with Wordpress was infinite. I spent the next few years working with Wordpress every single day, from crashing my sites hundreds of times by deleting lines of code to figure out what they was doing, teaching myself CSS by inspecting popular site's via chrome, and eventually creating Wordpress sites for big clients.

After a few years of freelancing I hit a peak and was no longer learning anything new. Underneath the nice Wordpress sites that I had created, I lacked actual "programming skills" and was intimidated by the people I knew who were coding for big companies. At the end of the day, I only really knew HTML & CSS.

This past summer a friend of mine suggested that I start a software engineering bootcamp and take my skill set to the next level. After one day of contemplating his suggestion, I decided that it was time to take on the challenge. I thought programming MIGHT come naturally because I was able to teach myself Wordpress/CSS in a short amount of time... but boy was I wrong.

I remember the first week I started, I kept asking my instructors for "golden rules." I was trying to create a mental cheat sheet that I could follow. However, I wasn't really getting the answers that I wanted because there weren't really any shortcuts. It took a lot of frustration and breakdowns until I finally gained some momentum. If I could go back in time, I would've told myself these three tips. Although these tips aren't anything out of the ordinary, they heavily applied to my experience.

3 Tips:

1) Read! Reading with patience is the first thing that comes to mind. NO ONE is born with the ability to write code. Even senior developers need spend a lot of time reading documentation. Be patient and read slowly. Otherwise, you'll spend a lot more time trying to figure things out.

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2) Debug. Most of my experience thus far has been dealing with bugs. You'll have to learn to love them because they aren't going anywhere. A really healthy approach is to never assume that your strategy to solve the bug will work. You can't debug with bias no matter how tempted you are. Whenever my instructor is debugging, he always "I expect this to not work." This approach helps keep you emotionally intact throughout the process and not overlooking other possible strategies.

3) Don't be intimidated by syntax. I used to spend a lot of time wondering why languages were written in the style that they are. Once I started seeing a high number of curly braces, shorthand functions, semicolons, etc. I would begin to freak out a little bit. I knew that there was no way that I could remember all of this at the top of my head! Ultimately I learned that syntax is always one google search away. The most important thing is knowing how to solve the problem, and the rest is easy. Learning new syntax also becomes easier because programming languages have a lot of things in common.

Top comments (2)

torianne02 profile image
Tori Crawford

I'm really proud of you Arya! These are great tips for people new to learning to code. ❤️

aryaziai profile image

Thank you so much Tori, and thanks for all of your support in my journey. Hope to see you soon!