I started to teach myself coding about two years ago. Yes, you’ll find success stories on Reddit and the like from people saying, “I started to learn Programming six months ago and just got my first developer job!” but that’s not my story.
So, maybe my story is yours, too.
I have a full-time job and wife & two children so I don’t have much time to study or ability take a sabbatical for a bootcamp. The care and feeding of those three humans includes three tuition bills so I don’t have the money for a bootcamp.
Network, they say. Find a mentor, they say.
Another thing I don’t have – and I’m not apologizing for this to anyone – is any desire to trade my limited family time in the evenings to go network at the countless programming meetups in my area. I don’t know a single person to even ask questions.
I am on my own. Or was, until recently.
Late last year, while reading others’ success stories on Reddit and feeling like Coderella wishing she could attend the Ball, I learned about the Grow With Google Challenge and applied. If accepted, students are placed in one of several Udacity courses, based on their interest and current knowledge. The top students from each course (still in progress) are granted a Udacity scholarship for completing the entire nanodegree track they’ve started with the first course. You can take the courses for free but paid/scholarship students also receive what I now know are the most valuable resources – mentors and the community of fellow students who practically live in the forums and Slack and fall all over themselves to help and encourage each other.
Yes, there are subreddits, Stack Overflow, etc. but … I could say this course doesn’t have any of their cons … but it’s actually much easier to gush about all the pros. Everyone is positive, there are no restrictions on what you can ask or how often, everyone is so cool and so helpful and … I say this as a long-time Instructional Designer … most of the course material (some video, some reading, some homework) is well above average.
I’ve found a treasure in collaboration and community that I only dreamed of before. I found my peeps.
This is the culture, to coin a phrase, I’ve been searching for. Where everygeek (yes, that’s one word) loves what they’re doing so much they can’t help but share their enthusiasm by helping each other learn. A place where nobody wants to be at the pinnacle alone so nobody gets left behind. The more geeks, the merrier.