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Theo Harris
Theo Harris

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A Tale of Bootcamp and Blogging

In February of 2020, I lost my retail job.

It was a long time coming, of course - poor upper-management, low foot traffic and an encroaching threat of economic recession meant that we were due to close when the company owners failed to sell their brand into more capable hands. It's not like I didn't know it was going to happen. What I failed to anticipate, however, was a global pandemic.

You've probably heard plenty of sob stories from my fellow retail workers, lamenting over job searches and failed applications. I was in the same boat, sending out endless resumes to cricket noises in lieu of return emails. I landed a retail gig in June of this year, but then injured my back (which led to the discovery of long-term undiagnosed scoliosis) and was advised by my doctor to quit retail, as it was making my back deteriorate even faster.

So, I turned to the industry that was flourishing during the period of indoor isolation - web development.

I had some knowledge of Coder Academy's Bootcamps prior to my application, due to connections to staff that have taught there. In what felt like a rather brash decision, I signed up and started teaching myself how to build a website from scratch in the lead-up to my first class.

Two months later, I have built my first website with HTML and CSS, and can write programs in Ruby, as well as utilise version control through Git and Github.

I want to emphasise that I previously had only dabbled in code through hand-held tutorials and simple block-based programs. I had never run anything in my computer terminal. I had no idea what Github was, other than a place where I could download cool themes for RainMeter. Now, two months on, I can build websites and write programs from scratch.

The thing that changed was my mindset. I had this preconceived notion that programming and software development was reserved for "smart people" and that I wasn't a smart person. The key was changing my outlook on failure. Growing up, failure in any capacity was the end of the line for me. "That's it", I would think, "I'm doomed to be terrible at (insert activity here) and I'm never going to try again so I don't embarrass myself".

But how is programming different to my past failures?

Every failure, from week one of bootcamp, became an opportunity for growth. Because programming is presented as problem solving, I found it easier to take a step back when my code didn't run as expected, and look objectively at what was going wrong. Even though technically the errors in the code were my fault, every single mistake was a learning experience, something I could commit to memory once I had discovered a solution. That feeling became addictive - a constant desire to improve myself and hone my skillset. I suddenly had a whole new world of opportunities to explore, skills to learn, projects to build, and people to meet.

The tech community, especially on twitter, has also been an incredibly helpful and encouraging environment. Being able to follow people in various stages of their own journeys is motivating, and every member of the community I've interacted with feels real, authentic. I'm sure tech twitter does have its bad apples, of course, as any community does, but I'm incredibly grateful for the myriad of positivity that has come from joining such a great community.

That brings me to why I'm starting a blog.

My favourite experiences, the ones that have been the most engaging to follow, have been those from devs just starting their journeys, and growing little by little each day. Watching people learn new things, overcome challenges, and generally flourish is the boost of positivity we need in the dumpster fire of a year that is 2020. So I want to give back by making my own blog.

I want to try my best to talk about what I'm learning and how I'm learning it. I want to be as helpful as possible to new devs, and maybe even to people considering web development as their career. Eventually maybe I'll have the confidence to post tutorials and other content. For now, it's a learning journey.

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