Comfort Code: phase 1 of a coding bootcamp

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I suppose it was an act of will, buying the internet course on python programming, even when a part of me said, “you’re being swindled.” I had by that time chosen resolutely to not follow in my father’s footsteps of becoming a well known plumbing, heating and cooling man. I would make my own way.

Injection molding would pave the way to a better future. As the factory roared and hissed around me, I coded on my breaks. When others spent money on tasty takeout and ate in the lackluster cafeteria. I saved mine, and I coded. At a back office desk, open to most of the plant, a grated mezzanine containing hydraulic and robot parts was my ceiling. This was one of those dreams that only the dreamer could see.

This was to be a long haul, with new daily habits being formed, and bad ones dropped. The central theme would be discipline. If I was going to work 6 to 7 days a week as a pandemic raged on around me, I’d have to keep my nose to the stone. This meant being frugal with not only my money, but my time. I trimmed out any social media outlets first. Then it was the morning lounging listening to podcasts to get the axe. All in service of the dream.

I’d pre planned for three years. Getting affairs in order and slowly making desired actions into daily habits. Those three years where filled with acquiring the items needed to make a comfortable coding environment. As three years turned to two, two turned to one.

Enter Flatiron

“I’ll be coming there in May of next year,” I said to John over the phone.

“May? Of next year?” You could hear the surprise. It was June then, and here I was saying I was to start the bootcamp in a year’s time. John, from Flatiron’s recruitment department didn’t know that this was a dream several years in the making. How could he?

There was prep-work now, a little more real. The mornings were reserved for working out and Flatiron prep, consisting of coding fundamentals and — the ‘m’ word. I knew there would be math involved. I had done the research. I wasn’t scared of it. But like the griz in Alaska, I respected it. In the years leading in, I had been brushing up on the fundamentals of math and science. It fed the flame rather than diminish it. I found I liked that sort of work. The universe is written in this language after all. It’d be good to become fluent.

Derivatives are the rate of change at an exact point in time, instantaneous change. I won’t go off on a tangent, but that’s a different change than the one I had undergone to get here. Mine was slow, tectonic. But now this new term, derivative, and its foreign symbols were part of my life. From there, partial derivatives were introduced. You might think since they’re ‘partial’ that they’re simpler, oh you naive sweet soul. They are more complicated.

The Technical interview approached, and arrived. He was a large, neatly–trimmed, bearded man. Voice soft and kind, betraying the impression of his imposing form. I was asked to make an empty list and append some values from a for loop. I kind of stumbled, but was guided back on track. After that we discussed derivatives. Prep-work was paying off. I was able to talk about what they were and how to find them. And what those little foreign-looking symbols meant in the equation. They said they would call with the results.

They called. I passed. Next phase, dig deeper into calculous and linear algebra. Scary ancient beasts , from the 16 and 1800’s. But if one could throw a harness on, and summon the courage to mount them, they can literally carry you to the stars. Like most things scary, they turn out to be not as bad as imagined.

Fall turned to winter, and winter to spring. Though the Illinois sky wouldn’t lead on, summer was coming. And with summer came May. I put my two weeks in at the injection molding plant, had the savings I needed, had the gear, and now I had the time. On to prework. Sounds like the same thing as prep-work, but we’re minus a ‘p’. Fine changes like that are large indications that things were progressing. More movement. I spent the month adjusting my routine and honing my study skills. Camp started on June 7th. May receded into the horizon, June took its spot.

Class began, a new life swinging into action. There’s a reason they call it a coding bootcamp. It’s fast, it’s relentless, and they’re not there to make it easy. I had approached it like a war. I would launch a two week all out campaign. My strategy? Wake up before I felt like it, code, absorb as much from the lectures and labs as humanly possible, work-out to keep my mind and body healthy, code more, eat, clean up, sleep and dream of coding. repeat.

We’re now in the present. The place where bald men in robes and people with long hair, and generally–bad hygiene tell you to be. This is week three, group project week, the end of phase one. I am lucky enough to have three wonderful, hard-working people in my group . Our task is to convince those in charge at Microsoft what kind of films to make for their newly-formed movie studio.

For my part, I am assigned the cleaning, plotting and analysis of data from IMDB (the Internet Movie Database). My teammates, who are working with Box Office figures, and reviews from Rotten Tomatoes are insightful and hardworking people. I got lucky being handed them for my first group project. I think for this maiden Blogpost, I’ll keep the technical, coding stuff to a minimum, ramp it up in the coming publications. Until then, here’s to dreams made by action.



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