The Road (Back) to Code

Posted by camneu37 on December 1, 2019

I wrote my last blog post and completed my last section project (the Rails project) over a year ago, at the end of July 2018. I certainly did not imagine it would take me a year to complete the next section and submit a new project, but here we are. A little background…

I decided to begin applying to Junior Software Engineer positions as I neared the end of the Rails section. I was very eager to get out of my current situation and make a change, so I thought why not give it a shot? By the time I completed my technical review of my Rails project, I had accepted an offer and would be moving across the country from Washington to Chicago to begin my new career as a Software Engineer. At that time, I imagined I’d take a short break of a couple months to get settled into my new role and home. However, that timeline quickly went out the door as I found myself either exhausted from a full day of learning at my new job or eager to get out and explore my new city and make new friends. My new employer was not so concerned with whether or not I completed the program, as I was quickly learning things on the job, so this did not help with motivating me to get back to work.

Fast forward to a year later and I still hadn’t even taken a peak at the next section. However, I still felt it was important to complete the program so that I could feel that sense of accomplishment and say that I had officially graduated. At this point, I had already been promoted to Software Engineer and learned JavaScript and some React/Redux on the job. This made it a bit tough to go back and start at the beginning of the JS section. I discussed with my boss that my goal was to try and finish the program by the end of the year, or at least the first couple months of 2020. He was very supportive and helped me come up with some ideas for motivating myself. First, he suggested coming in early or staying late at the office each day to study, rather than trying to do so once I got home. This was a real game changer. By the time I would get home from work, after my 30+ minute commute, I always felt exhausted and just wanted to relax. Staying at my desk in the office and just switching gears from work to studying, it was really easy to get a couple hours of studying in each night. Second, he suggested that I come up with some reward or punishment for meeting or not meeting the goal. I decided that punishment was a better motivator for me, so we made a bet that if I do not finish by the specified time, I have to take my entire team out to lunch. This has proved pretty motivating as I’ve been able to stick with studying pretty consistently.

Enough background…I have finally finished the JavaScript section and project, and even though I still have the React and Redux sections to go, I feel quite accomplished. It was sort of difficult to get through some of the early JS lessons since I was already pretty familiar with the JS basics, but found that the later lessons were very interesting. In particular, I had not worked with event listeners and found this particularly fun to learn. I was excited to get to the project stage as I already had an idea in mind for something that would be very useful for me. My 2019 resolution was to read more books, and I more than suceeded in this goal (went from reading maybe 2 books in 2018, to having just finished my 32nd of 2019). I had been keeping a list on my phone of each book I read, but I realized I would be much more interested to know not just how many books I had read, but how many hours I spent reading each book and in total for the year. I also thoughht this could be useful for tracking my 2020 goal of reading at least 2 hours a day. I have some further ideas to make the app more useful and provide myself more statistics on my reading, but for now the app does what I need to help me reach my goal - I can keep track of each time I am reading so to ensure I’m doing 2 hours a day and reading at least as many books as I did in 2019. A related 2020 goal will be to learn how to turn this app into an iPhone app, so that I can easily log my readings from my phone.