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Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Week at the Coding Dojo, a coding bootcamp

Woke up Saturday morning, exhausted. Haven't had to work so hard and be a "sponge" for a while. Shockingly even compared to Stanford and consultant life, this was a big ramp up. I told my sensei: for the first time ever, I had to seriously look at the syllabus (I was mostly a free spirit in college, cram at the end or just power through).

Two every important parts of a given boot camp: the instructors including mentors and equally important, the peers. 

Long-term front-end developers, webmasters, writers/editors, musicians and people who recently left their job like me all ended up here. People came here to learn skills they never knew or to connect the scattered dots that they learnt here and there. And whenever I get comfortable, I will be dazzled by my peers' impressive work and dedication, and get back down to earth again.

Perhaps more important than the actual video and live tutorials, is the "preaching of the sensei" much like the master of the Karate Kid: he will push you to stick with the fundamentals and improve gradually, except, the difference is: he will also show you the way.

The sensei will have to show us the way not just by exemplifying it. None of us had any doubts that there are computer geniuses out there, but the question is: can we be a web developer? Or can we even code? Our instructor Michael did that by showing us that we are all able to easily write the HTML for all websites, the styling and design are the tricky part. Strip out of the CSS, websites can look very ugly when naked.

Then the influence of the peers matter a great deal. The perceived dedication of group members check the not so focused students into place (that is very much the story of me). I was grumpy about commuting back and forth between San Francisco, until I met people came down from LA and Orange County, code in the day and seek housing in the evenings. Half of the class show up before 8AM, an hour before the class starts.

When you seriously start to rethink everything you do - is when someone who never programmed before came up with a great idea! It takes away all the pride and arrogance. At times, things get overwhelming, that's when you have to calm yourself and not let it get to you.

Programming is as much about the psychology and personality as the knowledge that you are acquiring. What stressed me out the most during the first week is that I don't have the programming personality. I had to come to terms with my short falls as well as my strength. Wow, it's crazy that it starts to be like a dojo.


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