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The start of my coding journey

jamiemccarville profile image Jamie McCarville πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ ・4 min read

This will be the first of 3 posts chronicling my coding journey to this point. I got the idea of doing a bit of a retrospective after I recently finished my second round of #100DaysOfCode and was reflecting on my experience and all I have learned to this point.

About Me

I am 36 years old, married, and the father of 2 beautiful girls - 9 and 11. I am from Ottawa, Ontario originally and for the last 14 years have called Manitoulin Island home. (The world's largest freshwater island! About a 7.5 hour drive from Ottawa). As a family we love to ski in the winter and go camping in the summer. In a move that many might consider un-Canadian, I quit playing hockey after grade 8 so that I could focus my attention on my favorite sport, basketball. I played through high school and still play pick up. During the golf season I get out at least a couple of times during the week. I coach the basketball and golf teams at the high school I work at and I also run kids programs and teach golf lessons at our local course.

Start of the Journey

Here is my story of how and why I made the decision to get serious about learning to code. In 2012 I started doing University courses part time through distance education. My goal was to finish my undergraduate degree and then go to teachers college.(I had previously completed a 3 year diploma program at my local community college) I took courses part time for two years. The class that I enjoyed the most was an introduction to computer science class. I had an opportunity to learn some basic Java and Python. Other than some simple HTML in high school, this was my first real introduction to coding. I really enjoyed it and knew that I would want to pursue learning it further somewhere down the line. While I was enrolled in my program, the Province of Ontario made a change to their teachers college program, extending it to two years instead of one. This change meant that attending teachers college would be a larger investment of time and money than I was able to make at that time with a young family. Around then I also saw some information on coding bootcamps. I took a look but they were on site bootcamps and ultimately it was not going to fit into my life at that time. I continued to substitute teach during the school year and work as Assistant Manager at a local golf course during the golf season. I then accepted a contract as an Educational Assistant at the high school I was substituting at.

Fast forward to October 2017. Every three years, our Board of Education holds an Education Conference, bringing in many different and talented speakers. One of the speakers they brought in was Brian Aspinall, a teacher in Ontario with a background in computer science and a love for all things coding. I attended his workshop session on using Scratch in the classroom. After a quick intro to the platform, I dove in and had a lot of fun coding and playing around. The first project I worked on was a probability simulator for a six sided die. I started it during the workshop and continued working on it at the my table while I listened to the next keynote speaker. I spent the most of my time the next day of the conference working away on other projects in Scratch while listening to the other speakers. I was just loving working with the code and building cool things. I showed it to my girls when I got home and they had both just done an intro to Scratch at their school. We spent a good chunk of the weekend building cool projects together. Needless to say, I was loving it! The experience at the conference reignited my interest in coding and I started thinking more seriously about learning to code and potentially pursuing it as a career.

I found the idea of coding and working remotely from home to be very exciting, as I would be able to work in a field I am passionate about and it would allow me to have more flexibility and balance in my life. So with all this in mind, I started to look at all of the various options for learning to code online. I started with an intro to HTML course with Codecademy and then moved over to the lessons at Free Code Camp. I also committed to the #100daysofcode challenge on Twitter. It was during this time in November while working through the Free Code Camp lessons that I stumbled upon Skillcrush. It looked interesting so I signed up for the 10 day free bootcamp. After completing the bootcamp and being impressed with the materials, I took a look at the Break Into Tech Blueprint. I ultimately decided to sign up for a couple of different reasons. First, I really liked the way the course was laid out. I liked having the option to focus on either a design or development track and appreciated all the teacher and peer support that was built in. Second, I felt that there was a lot of value in choosing a paid course. I figured I couldn’t go wrong making an investment in myself. Also, by choosing a paid course, I felt there would be extra motivation to follow through, especially on those days when it is tougher. It was for these reasons that I made the leap and signed up for the Break Into Tech Blueprint at the beginning of December 2017. Since then I have been working through the classes and coding as much as I can. I almost can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the last 3 months and I am excited to keep moving forward.

(Most of the content for this post was originally written in March 2018)

Thanks for reading about the start of my journey into coding. Stay tuned for my post next week, My first #100DaysOfCode.

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