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My Coding Journey

Coding Journey
10.4.21
Greg Petropoulos
https://www.gregpetropoulos.dev
https://github.com/GregPetropoulos
Follow Me on Twitter @GregoriosPetro1

Memory Lane

I just graduated from University of Nevada Las Vegas with a bachelor's degree in geology in 2017, ripe and ready to return back to the oil & gas industry I had previously labored in. I relocated to Texas from Nevada and found to my disappointment that securing a geologist role with a large or small oil company required a strong network, internships, and at least a masters in the state of Texas. So I settled for a sales role selling drill bits. I always thought of sales as temp to an exploration geology role.…yet another turn.

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) said it best “You've got to get up, you've got to have faith that the one thing you wanted to happen oftentimes is the best thing that never happened, So have faith, and just keep that in mind and keep plugging away.”

The Switch

So I did. I knew I would have to let go of the romanticism of becoming an oil barren by my own geologic studies. I looked to the tech industry. I accepted the idea of holding down a full time job in sales all while learning how to code. My purpose was to increase my quality of life for my family and reduce the stress of a job I couldn’t stand and that’s my why.
At this point my wife and I relocated from Texas to her home state North Carolina. I remained in sales and we had a baby on the way. I started to research web development and realized I needed to learn different technologies to build upon.

The How

Here’s the how, but wait…. Covid hit March 2020 just after having a newborn. Now what? Improvise!
I became discipline in order to achieve my goal of becoming a full stack web developer in a world of chaos and noise.

Discipline = Freedom.
Step 1 grind
Step 2 grind
Step 3 grind

I started waking up at 4 am everyday even on weekends. I would have 3 hours to myself prior to the workday. I studied Oliver James tutorials https://www.internetingishard.com/ on building my HTML5 and CSS3 foundational skills and understanding. After a couple months of this I realized JavaScript would be the next technology so I started familiarizing with JavaScript on freeCodeCamp https://www.freecodecamp.org/ and codecademy https://www.codecademy.com/ . Nothing fancy here I didn’t build facebook app or google I just need the very basic foundations to stand on.

Bootcamp Selection

I needed a pathway to sharpen my tools to create value. My bootcamp selection was based on the following five criteria:
1) Most relevant full stack technology
2) Not over $10k
3) Veteran approved
4) High ratings or at least job placement
5) Part-time

My Top Three:

VetsWhoCode-https://vetswhocode.io/
Code Platoon-https://www.codeplatoon.org/
University of North Carolina Charlotte - Full Stack Web Development (Trilogy)-https://bootcamp.uncc.edu/coding/

All three of these choices are great at teaching people how to code. The experience with VetsWhoCode we just got off on the wrong foot and I will leave it at that. I started using code platoon’s entry level JavaScript practice exams and algorithms which was helpful but overall my final choice was UNCC due to meeting my criteria and the 6 month part time nights and weekends were in my wheelhouse and a University on my resume is better than just a bootcamp school.

Bootcamp Starts

Nine months later I am somewhat familiar with web development, still under a pandemic the coding boot camp kick’s off and all classes were remote and that's to my benefit with my main responsibilities as a father and husband. In other words a remote class was my only option even in a non-pandemic period.

I had a handle on the first 3 weeks and the next 21 weeks were grueling. late nights, confusing, and frustrating but all worth it and brought me to the next level. Seeing an application come to life dynamically was invigorating. My instructor Zach Rickards and TA Caleb Crum were amazing and they pushed the class to be better.

This what we covered:

  • Browser Based Technologies
  • HTML/CSS
  • JavaScript/jQuery
  • Responsive Design
  • Bootstrap
  • Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)
  • Local Storage, Session Storage, IndexedDB
  • React.js
  • Databases
  • MySQL
  • MongoDB
  • Server Side Development
  • User Authentication
  • Template Engines
  • MERN Stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React.js, Node.js)
  • API Design
  • Client-Server Model
  • API
  • Rest
  • JSON
  • AJAX (Fetch API)
  • HTTP request methods
  • GraphQL
  • Deployment and Delivery
  • Heroku
  • Git
  • GitHub Pages
  • Shell Scripting
  • Unit Testing
  • Linting
  • Continuous Integration
  • Computer Science applied to JavaScript
  • Algorithms (Searches, Sorts)
  • Performance
  • Time Complexity
  • Big O Notation
  • Data Structures

Graduation & Demo Day

Six months later I graduated with a fancy portfolio and a few projects. I had few to-dos before hitting the streets and securing employment as a full stack web developer.

  • Tighten up my resume and get additional eyes on it for review
  • Clean up most recent projects on my portfolio and resume
  • Comb through portfolio for any final polishes
  • Update Linkedin
  • Build a difficult project (social media app) outside of boot camp to separate myself from the pack
  • Build a second project for a real client solving a real need outside of the boot camp

I had all my ducks in a row and demo day was on the horizon. My first demo day I learned a lot about how to demo my product and made several contacts. On my second demo day a month later I had new projects and a better sense of how to engage/pitch the prospective employer with my projects. The feedback here was extremely valuable.

Get A Job

Time to make some noise. The mission was to secure my first job as a developer. I started filling out as many applications on Linkedin and Indeed, also went to company websites and would reach out. I targeted FAANG and the mom and pop shops.
I finally landed on my feet as Developer Support Engineer in an awesome company after three months from graduation, two demo days, 100’s of emails and rejections, several interviews and various types of coding technical interviews such as take home tests, Hackerrank test, and live coding. See my portfolio https://gregpetropoulos.dev/

My best advice, become a turtle and keep coding and showing up consistently with focus. Surround yourself with supportive people. I couldn't have done this with out my wife's support.

All the links are provided at the bottom
https://www.internetingishard.com/
https://www.freecodecamp.org/
https://www.codecademy.com/
https://vetswhocode.io/
https://www.codeplatoon.org/
https://bootcamp.uncc.edu/coding/

Tweet tags
Follow @internetinghard
Follow @freeCodeCamp
Follow @Codecademy
Follow @VetsWhoCode
Follow @codeplatoon_org
Follow @UNCCBootCamps
Follow Me on Twitter @GregoriosPetro1

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