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A Software Engineer's Journey: Flatiron Edition

desilerma25 profile image Desiree Lerma ・4 min read

Last year I was working an office job as a legal assistant. While I enjoyed my coworkers presence, my job was unfulfilling to me. I had tried different career paths such as cosmetology and legal assisting, but I had yet to find something I was truly passionate about. When I discovered coding along with the highs and lows that come with it I felt like I was finally gifted an answer to my question, "What's my purpose?" Coding allows me to exercise my brain muscles as well as my creative muscles. What more could you ask for?!

Turning A Dream Into A Reality

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I went through the motions to research and find a bootcamp that properly fit my needs and found my Cinderella shoe with Flatiron. After going through the application process, I was officially accepted in July 2020. That was the first step towards achieving my dream. I began my official Flatiron journey in October 2020. That sounds like such a long time ago yet it also seems like it was just yesterday. Time really does zoom by when you're having a good time, right?

Now don't get me wrong, I definitely had my fair share of obstacles and late night study sessions (I should be sponsored by energy drinks at this point). I went into Flatiron with minimal coding experience, but an eagerness to learn. While going through a bootcamp such as Flatiron you need to learn to give yourself some grace. You are being granted such a vast amount of information you will NOT immediately pick up every single concept that you are being taught, but that's where your drive will kick in. Discover the pieces you lack in and drill into them with all your might. Just because a lecture ends or an assignment is completed does not mean your learning has ended. Do some more research on your own and I guarantee you will not regret it. This can be done by taking a deeper dive into the language's documentation or simply watching a Youtube tutorial to help cement the information.

Your Brain Needs A Break

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There are a couple of tips I'd like to hand out that my own instructor had to constantly remind of. The first is to TAKE A BREAK. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I had an issue that I felt like I could not solve, but I would've been able to discover if I would have just walked away from my computer to get a breath of fresh air. Your brain needs a break! I cannot stress enough how important breaks are. As I said above, you are being given a substantial amount of information to absorb in a small amount of time so you need to allow your mind and body the opportunity to just breathe sometimes. I can almost guarantee, if you've been banging your head against your keyboard for the past hour, once you walk away the solution will come to you (yay for brain magic!).

Ask Away

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Another tip I would give is to ask all the questions you want and need! Every time I asked my instructor a question I would preface it with "This is probably a stupid question but..." I always felt like I was alone in my questions, but I also didn't want to allow myself to struggle. If I said out loud that it was a dumb question then it would somehow make me feel better (weird way of think I know). My instructor always assured me it wasn't a stupid question and it wasn't until the very end of my program that I discovered how my "stupid questions" weren't actually stupid AND actually helped others. I had a cohort mate tell me that he was glad I was actively asking questions in Slack and in office hours because he would usually have the same questions and me asking them helped him as well. So my advice is to ask away! You are learning totally new information and it is ok to ask for help and/or clarification. You want to make sure you are properly understanding it after all.

Community Is Key

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Having my cohort community helped me immensely during this program. They helped me realize that this journey is a unique one and having someone that can relate with what your feeling can help validate that you are not alone in it! Some individuals in your community may have a better understanding of certain concepts and can help you learn them too. Or vice versa, you may have a better understanding and you can then lend your knowledge to help them out which in turn, solidifies your grasp on the subject. Learning to utilize your peers is an important skill that I think can get overlooked sometimes. Think about, in the real world you most likely will not work 100% alone. At some point in your career you will rely on others, others will rely on you and you'll work collaboratively to solve problems.

As I await my final project assessment, I look back at where I was when I first begin the Software Engineering program and I am truly astounded at all that I have learned. I went from being happy with printing "Hello World!" onto to page to now having the ability to create exciting new apps. In my journey I have created a Tv Encyclopedia through the command line, a Christmas List app utilizing the Sinatra framework, a fitness organizational app with Ruby on Rails and user authentication, a Marvel trivia game with a Rails backend and JavaScript frontend, and an app with a collection of true crime cases for informational purposes with a Rails API backend and JavaScript frontend while utilizing React/Redux. Not only did I learn the fundamentals of these languages, I learned how to learn (with my BFF Google), how to better work in a team, how to ask for help when I need it, and so much more. I cannot wait to learn more and see where this journey continues to take me as a Software Engineer.

Discussion (4)

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Natalie Hummel

Such a great blog post, Des!

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Desiree Lerma Author

Thank you Natty!

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atulit023

In the name of community. I've joined exectly two groups both of which are used to share freepdfbooks and memes lol

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Desiree Lerma Author

Haha! Hey, community is community.