The biggest thing that held me back in the beginning is the fear of breaking something or making a mistake. After sixteen years as a nurse, lives were on the line, you don't make mistakes. I learned at Lambda making mistakes and breaking things is expected in programming.
Read the errors and do some googling to figure it out.
It is how we learn.
When I ended up needing to flex back to the previous unit because I failed two Sprints, I. Was. Devastated. I almost quit. Even told my daughter, I couldn't do it. It is too hard. I'm sure you can guess what words came back to haunt me.
"Face your fears!" "No excuses, don't think about it, just do it! Suck it up buttercup!"
My family believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. I knew I had to push through this and let my actions match my words. It is called integrity. My kids needed to see me struggle at something and come out in the end with success.
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going" ~Joseph P. Kennedy
I was in a support session with a Team Lead to discuss a particularly tricky problem, and it was with the right person at the right time. He seriously changed my mind and my entire view of programming in those 2 hours. We didn't spend much of that two hours learning about code. He should probably consider a career as a motivational speaker because he told me exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. I don't remember his name, I wish I did so I could thank him.
You know the saying?
“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou
It is true. I don't remember what he said to me, but I do remember the way he made me feel. I left that day having new motivation, not caring that I 'failed' and had to repeat some of the material. I embraced it as an opportunity to review the concepts and gain a deeper understanding. I started taking risks and breaking things, figuring why and fixing them. I celebrated the small wins. When I was struggling with an error or bug I couldn't figure out, instead of getting frustrated I could logically think it through and figure it out or reach out for help when needed.
I think me reaching out for help was the key. Previously, I had been going through Lambda on my own island. After I started engaging with the community I started to grow and learn exponentially.
If you feel like you are on an island, you're doing it wrong!
I know this is a common thing that happens with new developers. Impostor syndrome is real y'all! The fear of looking stupid because you are asking a question everyone else knows. Truth be told if you have a question 10 other people probably have the same question.
At Lambda we go by the '20 minute rule.' Struggle for 20 minutes on your own, then ask for help. I've learned this is especially important when working on a team. It isn't fair to your team for you to be stuck on something for a day or two without asking for help. Come together and figure it out. Sometimes just talking through the problem helps you solve it!
Or you could always talk to your trusty Rubber Ducky!
Yes, it is a thing!
Looking back, I have learned so much. Not only about programming, but about leading and being a part of a team. Feeling safe enough to be vulnerable to ask for help, because now I realize we are all in this learning experience together!
I had a fellow Team Lead say to me once "Christine look at you, you changed careers like it was easy!" I've been called a "coding master." I had to laugh at that one! Definitely not, but they didn't see my struggle. They see me now knowing more than I did when I started.
I took a 4-month break as a student to be a full-time team lead because I wasn't confident going into labs. Best. Decision. Ever. I love how Lambda uses the teaching model of 'see one, do one, teach one." It is a model I believe in from my experience in the medical field.
It was rewarding to watch them grow into full-stack developers. I really had the best team of students to work with. If I didn't know something, I owned it and we figured it out together or asked our team and someone usually knew the answer.
We succeed as a team, no man left behind.
After such a successful Team Lead experience I was promoted to Section Lead. I have now returned to being a full-time student in Labs-24 with the same group of students I was a Team Lead with. Student by day, Section Lead by night for part-time students.
I'm in front of a computer at least 12 hours a day and I couldn't be happier. The culture at Lambda is obviously intentional. It trickles down from the top. I'm thrilled to be a part of the leadership that is continuing to build a community of safety, respect, personal growth, and team building in another cohort of students. All remotely of course.
Getting through Lambda and learning to code, in general, takes grit, determination, and sometimes sheer stubbornness of just never giving up.
If you are still reading this and it spoke to you or inspired you in some way please leave a comment and let me know. Thank you for reading my story!