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My (almost) self-taught journey to code

oakj profile image Jonnie Oak ・5 min read

Introduction

I wasn't happy at my job. In September of 2020, I decided that I needed to make a change. After 5 years of working as an electrical engineer I bit the bullet and left my job to pursue coding. This is my journey. I hope that my journey can be used as a guide for anyone that wants to take on a similar path. It's never too late to learn how to code!

In the past 4.5 months, I have learned so much. It makes me so happy to share this experience with the world. It also acts as a reminder for how far I've come and to not be too hard on myself when I feel like I'm not progressing fast enough. I hope people will find this useful. If it is - feel free to come a long on the journey by giving a follow!

September 2020

9/8/20:
I start my Python class and my SQL class at Bunker Hill Community College.

I learned a lot from these classes but it's definitely not required. Actually, I recommend new coders to AVOID taking classes (unless it's low cost). Make sure to check back in for a future blog post where I go into detail on my experience and when structured classes are worth it!

9/18/20:
I start a Udemy course. The Complete Web Developer in 2020: Zero to Mastery by Andrei Neagoie. I highly recommend this course for any beginner interested in the world of web development. This course goes over everything: how the web works, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, databases, http requests and more. It also talks about coding environments. At this point I start using VSCode. To this day VSCode is still my favorite code editor.

I'll go into detail on my experience and if this course is right for you in a future blog post.

October 2020

10/5/20 - 10/9/20:
I participate in live webinars for Springboards conference "RISE". Springboard is a coding boot camp and RISE is their annual conference that discusses the software engineering and data science industries. At this point I was still trying to see if a boot camp was right for me. Spoiler alert - it's not! I'm very happy with my choice in taking the self taught route. Even though I haven't attended a boot camp, I've done a lot of research. Boot camps are expensive. The guaranteed jobs are sketchy. The career mentorship is not worth the tuition. As long as you're disciplined, you can learn everything a boot camp offers for a MUCH cheaper price point. At the bottom of this post, I have a table that shows how much I've spent so far. Make sure to check back in for a blog where I discuss my findings on boot camps.

November 2020

11/6/20-11/8/20:
I participate in Liquid Hacks. This is my first "test" to see what I have learned. I tried building a website called "a team liquid story". Honestly it was supposed to be extremely simple. I fail at completing the project by the deadline and I end up not submitting. Even though I wasn't able to complete a project. I don't regret participating. It showed me how much I still didn't know.

11/30/20:
Back to The Complete Web Developer by Andrei Neagoie. At this point I did every exercise up to the React section. I felt like I needed to focus on the fundamentals. I "finished" the course by watching the rest of the videos. Finishing the course without completing the exercises helped me learn broad pictures of what other tools are used and how they are used. It gave me a good idea of what to expect in the future so that I wouldn't be completely lost.

I start grinding FreeCodeCamp - Javascript Algorithms and Data Structures Certification.

December 2020

12/1/20:
I complete my semester project for my Python class. A program that takes a summoner name from the game League of Legends and outputs the user's match history and charts the frequency of each champion played. The program is coded in Python using Jupyter notebook.

12/16/20:
I finish FreeCodeCamp - Javascript Algorithms and Data Structures Certification

12/16/20 - 12/24/20:
I start learning React by working through the tutorial in the official docs. I can't find quality material on how to learn React until 12/28/20.

12/18/20
My Python and SQL classes end

12/28/20 - 1/20/21:
I start going through Pure React by Dave Ceddia. This was easily one of my best coding investments. I highly recommend this book for anyone that knows HTML/CSS/JavaScript and wants to jump into React. React is a framework that has many many many tools. It can be very overwhelming to figure out where to start. Pure React is a book that teaches... well.... pure React. All of the extra tools can be learned later.

January 2021

1/20/21 - 1/22/21:
I finish going through Pure React. At this point I feel comfortable and I decide that I am ready to build a web app from "scratch". Scratch is in quotes because I actually decide to build a Discord clone in React. I decide to build a Discord clone because building an actual app from scratch would involve designing UI/UX which is not the current goal. I want to test my developer knowledge.

I start off by prototyping the frontend.

1/22/21-1/26/21:
Frontend prototype is complete. I start thinking about the backend. After some research, I end up going with Firebase. I have some familiarity with databases from my SQL class and The Complete Web Developer course but Firestore is a noSQL database so there is a a bit of a learning curve. I end up buying Fireship's course Firestore Data Modeling Master Course. This course is perfect for someone that has some database knowledge because it's short and sweet. It covers everything you need to know quickly. It shouldn't be used as your first course in databases.

I have some familiarity from fetching data from my Python project where I fetched data from Riot Games API. I build my first feature that combines both frontend and backend: a side bar that fetches real time data and outputs the community name and avatar links as a list.

1/27/21:
This brings me to dev community and my first post. I've learned a lot... enough to where I felt like I needed to share my experience.

updates coming...

Money spent so far
Worth it
The Complete Web Developer by Andrei Neagoie $13.99
Pure React by Dave Ceddia $59.00
Fireship's Firestore Data Modeling Course $19.00
Total: $91.99
Not worth it
Python at Bunker Hill Community College $1248.00
SQL at Bunker Hill Community College $1248.00
Total: $2496.00

Discussion (7)

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tkamilla profile image
tkamilla

I'm happy for you journey Jonnie! It was nice to read all the progress throughout your journey and the decision makings you make up to this point.

I do find it interesting on how people approach this self-taught journey. For me, I have been self-taught for a bit over a year and I haven't spent a penny on courses, books, etc.

I stopped chasing a tech position and decided to start my own startup, working on my MVP now. All because being a developer helped me to open new path on what values I can give to the world. Will DEV be what I want to do in future? not sure yet.

Maybe you could ask yourself how can you provide value going through this developer journey and why? Is it just for the money? then get skilled up making things that can help others or to get hired by FAANG asap.
If for other reason, maybe start thinking of your life and passions. See if combining those things can trigger new startups or just new creative path for you. That's how I came up with mine! I hope my feedback can somewhat be helpful :)

Best of effort on your journey man!

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oakj profile image
Jonnie Oak Author

Hi tkamill!

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the kind words. I definitely have some ideas on what I want to provide. My first step is to get to a point where I can confidently build apps. I'm happy to hear that you found your path. Best of luck to you also!

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Jeet Mandaliya

Congratulations Jonnie. I'm happy for you.

( btw is the cover pick for this post any connection with Sky: Children of the Light ? I LOVE IT )

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oakj profile image
Jonnie Oak Author

Thanks Jeet! The cover image is actually from a game called Journey. It's developed by the same company that developed Sky

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Alex Turner

Clear summary of your time management, planning, application and review skills. A solid work ethic and commitment towards making the career switch. Wishing you well on the journey.

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Tyler Carroll

Jonnie, this is an encouraging post to see how hard that you have worked towards the goal of software dev makes me wanna go and write some more JavaScript haha! Best of luck on your journey!

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Débora Robles Pérez

Thank you for sharing! Congrats by the path you took