Week One at Coding Dojo!

Week one is done! I made it out alive, and only cried once!

This first week was full of valuable lessons, both as a part of the curriculum and outside of Dojo life. My cohort is stacked with great people, and I’m especially excited that two of them are women! I was honestly expecting everyone to be male, as were they, so it was a nice surprise. We started with Web Fundamentals, which lays the groundwork for all the crazy information that will be flying at us soon.

My home away from home away from home.
My home away from home away from home.

Our cohort is the first to try out a new platform for the Web Fundamentals section and, while I don’t have the other platform to compare it to, I really like the way this one is laid out. The very first thing we learned was about git and GitHub. There former is basically a way to navigate your computer without clicking through everything. You can create directories, files, and documents and push them to an online platform called GitHub. Previously, this was taught a couple days into the course, but I think it’s really beneficial to do it right of the bat. It allows you to basically create a portfolio from the very beginning that shows potential employers how far you’ve come. The other major benefit is that you can save your projects step by step, allowing you to revert to an older version of something if your newest version is buggy.

Aside from git, we’ve been working on HTML and CSS, with the assignments getting progressively more challenging. I hit a wall on Thursday, completely overwhelmed myself, and cried, which led to Lesson #1: Know when to step away and give yourself a break. The problem wasn’t that the material was unfamiliar, even though I’m relatively new to this. It was that I tried to lay my project out in a way that meant there was more going on than I knew how to process. I looked at what I’d done, realized my brain couldn’t handle it, and felt the tears welling up. Before the water works flowed, I grabbed my jacket, headed outside, and got a little exercise and fresh air. When you’re really driven to do well, it’s easy to tell yourself you shouldn’t stop until you’re at the end point, but the reality is that learning a new skill as an adult challenges your brain in a way you’re likely not used to. I’m stubborn to a fault, so I’ll really need to work on this. It will be a recurring theme throughout my new career path, and it’s better to build good habits from the outset.

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Lake Michigan is perfect for soothing the soul.

Wednesday night, a few of the ladies had a little get together at the Dojo with a former graduate of the online boot camp who now lives in Chicago. Originally, we planned on discussing how we can do our part to promote women in tech, but it evolved into a much larger discussion about how we can build a more inclusive community for all of the underrepresented demographics in tech, not just women. The ideas are in their infancy, but I look forward to seeing how we can develop this over the next few months.

I rounded out my week with a quick trip to Florida for a wedding. Because HTML and CSS are the only things I had prior familiarity with, including the workshop at the Dojo, I felt fairly confident I could catch up from missing the first Friday, but really wouldn’t recommend it… The classes are so accelerated that even one day can set you back big time. I’ll pay for it with late nights this week, but at least I got to work on my algorithms in the sun and sand!

So, on that note, I’m off to build a webpage and prepare for our dive into JavaScript. Fingers crossed that it’s a tear-free week!

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