What a week! Following months of anticipation, we finally started programming bootcamp as gSchool’s first Boulder cohort. There are 26 students consisting of 12 women and 14 men. We range from having four months self-taught coding experience to years of experience as front-end developers. A few of the students are graduates of shorter programming bootcamps. There are engineers (chemical and nuclear), a lawyer, several musicians, a waitress, a fitness club owner and a Tibetan translator. Rumor has it that we range in age from 24 to 55. Despite our diversity, we’re unified by a tremendous sense of excitement at being a part of gSchool. Our enthusiasm is driven by the support and encouragement provided by the teachers Mike Gehard and Jeff Dean.
In the first week alone, we’ve touched on Command Line, Developer Workflow, Git, Github and Heroku, Test-Driven Development, Ruby, Pivotal Tracker, Basic HTML site deploy and pushing apps into production. Meanwhile, one whole day was spent doing Improv (yes, theater improv… as a very successful first-day Ice Breaker tool) and we also squeezed in a Happy Hour on Friday afternoon. The pace has been tremendous, but not overwhelming (again, largely credited to Mike and Jeff’s teaching style and the sense of cohesiveness among the students).
Considering myself on a lower rung of the cohort’s knowledge-base, I’ve been studying long hours trying to keep abreast of the staggering amount of material covered in class. The phrase that comes to mind is ‘struggling… but not drowning’. Earlier this year, I read Chad Fowler’s book The Passionate Programmer. He devotes a chapter to the topic ‘Be the Worst’. The idea is that if you’re the worst programmer in the room, you’ll always code with people who are better than you. He intimates that an instinctual herd behavior takes over and helps raise your ability to the group’s level. That thought brings me comfort as I struggle with basic concepts around Git and Developer Workflow.
Another effort on my part is to expose as much of my ignorance as possible. Bringing light to the parts that would normally remain hidden ultimately will help me be a better programmer. In the meantime, I’m a squeaky wheel begging for grease and study assistance from more knowledgeable classmates. Hopefully, I’ll grow out of this awkward stage and be able to offer them assistance further into the course.
Time for bed, but I’ll post some pictures of the Galvanize gSchool space in Denver for those who might be interested. These first four photos may give a sense as to the size of the first floor open space. Included is a bar, a small cafe and plenty of tables and counters for techies to mingle while relaxing or working on coding projects:
These last two photos were taken in the classroom leading up to Friday’s Happy Hour (note the anticipatory beer):