How I got into web development is a interesting ride. I originally wanted to be a programmer when I was a child. I started taking apart my mom’s computer back when I was 6 or 7 just trying to figure out how it worked. At some point she got tired of coming home and seeing the case in one area and random screws in another. It makes sense, during the early 90s military salaries weren’t what they are now. She then decided to get me one of those little all-in-one devices that plug into the TV and come with a host of little programs to keep children occupied. It came with this program to teach people how to program. It came with I think Assembly or something (I honestly don’t think it was aimed towards children, it also had calculus and chemistry apps). Trying to figure it out was frustrating and I quit as I had no help or direction trying to figure out something as simple as printing “Hello World”.
I then gravitated towards art and videogames completely leaving the machine to age, fast forward some years and I meet someone who would become my best friend as we bonded over videogames and wanting to create our own. We went off to college and I got more into using a computer to better help people navigate the web, applications and conveying emotions through great cohesive branding. I thought I had found my calling as a graphic designer, I soon graduated and started working in a field completely unrelated to graphic design. I found myself bored of the field so I took a job working for the state government but found myself completely bored and not at all truly happy but I continued to work because it was the real world.
a few years went by and I was still working the same job with no real advancement. One day while at home, I decided to browse Panda to look for resources and UI inspiration and stumbled upon a post titled How I Got A Job In Web Development by Michael Elliot. Out of sheer boredom I decided to read the post, at the time I didn’t really know where/what my goal and/or aim was in life anymore. I read his blog post and it just resonated with my current situation in so many ways. I realized that what he was talking about and what he went through was exactly what I was feeling. So on a whim I decided to email him half thinking that he wouldn’t respond. To my surprise he emailed me back that same day (or it could have been the next day). Mike was very nice and encouraged me to pursue my pigued interest in web development. My financial situation wasn’t the best at the time and as such Michael did something very kind and allowed me to utilize his log in credentials for One Month Rails, it was honestly one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for me (and I still thank him for it) and I think it was the crucial key for me truly getting into web development.
I took the One Month Rails course and finished in 3 days, I was hooked! I had created something! Sure it was a Pinterest clone and I scaffoled everything and gemmed everything else while occasionally copy/pasting code, but at the very end it was something I created. I made a web application, I didn’t simply create a non interactive web page. I had created a fully interactive web application that connected to a database to me this was amazing! I had always wanted to create web applications but never had the skills and felt that a person NEEDED to attend 4 years of college focusing on CS just to even begin doing something like this!
Naturally I’m a learner, I’m never satisfied with simple answers or not knowing the full story/having the full picture of anything. So I started bombarding both Stack Overflow and Michael with questions, what are scaffolds? How do they work? Is there a non “magical” way to do this? I WANT the hard/long way, how does rails work?! How do these commands work? Michael was super patient with me answering every question I fielded to him providing me with resources, suggestions and words of encouragement. I consumed and consumed and consumed some more, I read books way above my Rails knowledge level and played around in IRB. It was at this point that I decided to dedicate as much time as possible to learning Rails and Ruby. On my days off I decided to put 10hr+ into studying, it was my new “hobby”, I neglected friends and ignored other non-important commitments, nothing was as important as learning this stuff. This is what I wanted to do for a living, that feeling of frustration not getting something to work, and when you finally got it working that feeling of satisfaction, of victory.
I made my way through Codecademy’s ruby course, I went through Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial book the first time not understanding a thing but going through regardless. I took notes (I really should put them up on gist) on everything then when I finished the book, I tried to make my own application. It didn’t work and I didn’t understand a single thing that I was doing, I deemed that not as a failure but a setback. It humbled me, I thought I had it all figured out after reading his book once and doing a codecademy course. I realized that I had so much more to learn, but it didn’t get me down it encouraged me. I bought books on Rails and read through them, jotting down notes and playing in IRB. I learned a little more, I decided to go through Codecademy’s Ruby course again. I retained more than I did the first time. Great, I grabbed Hartl’s book again and decided to go through it again, things started clicking, while they may or may not have made complete sense to me. It was enough to increase my evergrowing knowledge.
It’s been 4 months since I first wrote Michael and he sent me down this path, sure I got frustrated with my learning and errors but at no point did I want to give up. I won’t claim to be “great” or even “good” at Rails or web development in general but I will tell you that I’m learning everyday. Mike has been such a great help/mentor in this and has always been encouraging. I’ve had people suggesting that I start applying for Junior Developer positions; unfortunately this brings out the one negative aspect…I don’t think I’m good enough for a junior position. Having taken many a psychology class in school, I’m well aware I’m suffering from imposter syndrome and I’m trying to overcome it; I set goals for myself and until I meet them I don’t think I’m worthy to work for any development shop or start-up. But that’s another talk for another time!