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Took a leap of faith this year to pursue a career in programming. Shipped my first thing recently, here's my experience.

duchesstoffee profile image Hannah Ong ・3 min read

I wanted to share some of my experiences learning to code as a former HR professional. I wanted to pursue engineering as a means to gain more autonomy and hopefully grow into a career that would constantly challenge me and stay "interesting." Deciding to finally make the move was a daunting decision that I agonized over for months. I finally took the "leap" a few months ago and have been more or less cramming coding material and coding (to the best of my abilities) since then.

Initially, I opted to enroll in a bootcamp, as I felt the structure afforded by such a program would keep me honest and guide my learning. While this was true to an extent, I left because I felt the information and instruction was not the quality I had hoped for. In order to cram all the material advertised in the curriculum into a few short months, the coverage felt superficial and rushed. I found myself often asking "why" something was done a particular way, and more often than not, the teaching assistants seemed either not to know, or not to think it was important. I should mention, I am fortunate enough to be married to an engineer, and my husband was more than up to the task of coaching me along the way. As such, the prospect of learning outside a classroom was a bit easier to stomach.

The main things I've learned so far is that actually trying to build a "thing" has taught me far more than either exercises, or imitating an existing project that is structured a particular way. Learning by example was definitely the fastest way to get started, but I really picked up steam once I overcame the "fear of the blank canvas" and just learned to rely heavily on legitimate documentation (e.g. MDN) instead of trying to learn from random code snippets/tutorials online. So far, I've picked up just HTML, CSS, React, JavaScript, and now a little TypeScript. I'm constantly blown away with how much you can create without knowing a lot, if you're able to just combine what you already know creatively. So don't be intimidated if much of the material out there seems foreign and "scary" (as a lot of it still does for me). I'm convinced that someone new would be able to create what I've recently made with far less knowledge than you would think. Sure it may not be "optimal" or "perfect," but that's what iteration is for, right? :)

As for the thing I "shipped," it's really early stages (and probably has a lot of things I can improve on), but I built it with people like myself in mind and hope others might benefit from it. The site is (note: my husband built the backend, but I did the frontend, I swear!). As for what it is, it's a simple way to crowdsource feedback on commits you commit to GitHub. We actually created it for the GitHub actions hackathon project, but felt it might be worth sharing as it's also my first shipped project. It's free as in beer (that's free), and we honestly have no idea if others in the community will even take to it. That said, my husband has offered to give as much feedback/mentorship as he has time available there (and I think people should take him up on it!).

Discussion (12)

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adamcoster profile image
Adam Coster • Edited

The "why" is definitely the most important part. Good on you for making sure you could get answers.

I was also amazed when I first started just how much I could already do while not knowing very much at all. The fact the programming is useful at all levels of skill is tremendously important, and it's a shame that it isn't taught more broadly in early education. Fast wins, fast feedback, learning math and comp sci principles as side effects of making tools and toys -- programming is perfect for education.

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Andrew Baisden

Congrats on your first project the more you do the faster you learn.

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Shaiju T

Congratulations 😄, How many months it took to learn HTML, CSS, React, JavaScript and TypeScript by looking at documentations ?

duchesstoffee profile image
Hannah Ong Author

Thanks! If I try to timestamp everything:
-For HTML, CSS, JS, I kickstarted my learning with freecodecamp, which took about 2-3 weeks? I remember feeling like I really crammed this since I was still working at the time lol. Whenever I have a question, I'll go look it up on MDN.
-For React it's a mixture of resources, but I followed an MDN tutorial which was really helpful and took only a day or so to get through ( (I liked it better than the React tutorial..., sorry React!) But I still go to their documentation when I get confused on anything in regards to hooks or syntax or anything else!
-TypeScript.. I'm still learning! But I didn't need more than a day to get started!

I'm no expert in any of these areas, but it was easier than I thought to get code together make something functional :) The site itself took me about 3-4 days to build, and it took my husband around the same time for the backend. :)

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Cheyenne Lee Smith

I love this site! Nice work :)

saisandeepvaddi profile image
Sai Sandeep Vaddi

Congratulations on first project.
Nice work on MEEP :)

dmahely profile image
Doaa Mahely

Hello Hannah! Great job on the frontend 😄
I really like the idea of MEEP. Good luck to you with your learning!

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João Forja 💭

Congratulations on your first shipped project! Hope things keep moving forward an going well :)

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Dan B

Lovely site! and a really nice idea!

(Here is also some feedback: I noticed that the linkedin-hyperlink on your github-readme leads to instead of your profile.)

duchesstoffee profile image
Hannah Ong Author

Oo thanks!!! I'll fix that!

michulee profile image

Did you also create the images yourself?

duchesstoffee profile image
Hannah Ong Author

I wish I was that talented! But credit to (! You can use the illustrations in any project for free!