How it all started

Intro

A little (?) about me. I’m Grace, a semi-self-taught freelance developer who holds a full time position in the biotech industry as a cancer researcher. Semi-self-taught because I was briefly in an online coding bootcamp that I didn’t get a chance to finish due to personal circumstances.

I love science and helping people so studied neuroscience in college and was a premed. I went to school in SoCal so had a great opportunity to volunteer in Mexico in a monthly clinic and loved every bit of the experience. However, I later learned that medicine isn’t for me for various reasons and chose to go into research instead.

Research is fun. I have an obsessive and curious nature when it comes to work and it has everything I want in a career: problem solving, challenges, critical thinking, troubleshooting, logic, creativity, and most importantly a chance to make a positive impact on others. I’d think about whether my protein would show up on my gel the way it’s supposed to (meaning it worked) and I basically had a “relationship” with my given project that often played hard to get with me. ūüėČ

What’s even more fun for me is coding. I didn’t know much about programming in general and what it can actually do. ¬†I do remember however, that back in high school, I absolutely loved making websites using HTML and inline styling (it was.. a long time ago), as well as following Photoshop tutorials. I didn’t know what tags and attributes were in formal definitions but¬†I’d often find myself doing this late into the night.

Fast-forward many years (won’t give away my age), I was introduced to¬†coding by my colleague who was preparing for a 3 month long full time bootcamp (it’s fate!). I was astonished at what she’d built using just lines of code. I didn’t know much about the different languages but told her I liked “front-end” from my previous experience. She recommended HTML/CSS/JavaScript and I immediately got started on Codecademy, then Code School. I don’t have a crazy or brilliant stories like how other developers got started on their coding journey such as building an app at the age of 4 or something like that but simply put,¬†I was just instantly hooked and it was just so much fun for me! Oh, and let’s not leave out the challenging part… :0) I’d itch to get off work to go home and code. That is when I knew I had to do it¬†for a living and I haven’t stopped since.

There was¬†an overwhelming amount of resources out there on the internet so I needed more direction. So I started Thinkful, a flexible online bootcamp. I’d consider myself pretty techie and a fast learner (I used to take apart electronics as a kid just to see how they¬†work and taught myself how to play a few musical instruments, swim, surf, etc.) but when I was starting out, I was a bit intimidated by things like http, cache, memory, data structure & algorithm, bits, etc. what!? But remember, we all have to start somewhere¬†and all this can be learned with patience and persistence. Anyhow, I really liked my mentor which was the best part of the program but needed a lot of outside resources like Udemy and Scotch.io to complete each project/learn a concept as the curriculum I felt wasn’t quite there yet and a bit rushed (this was back in August 2016). However, through my daily interactions with my mentor, I learned how to think and solve problems like a developer and the importance of collaboration/being a part of a supportive community, which were invaluable.

My goal now is to keep my skills sharp and become a full time developer. I’m starting this blog to better keep track of my journey and stay motivated to never stop progressing and learning. I am¬†also hoping to somehow help those who are teaching themselves to code but it’s mostly for my own way to stay on track. Anyway, I want to list a couple things that’s helped me tremendously to learn the basics and off to my current project I go. More on this later but here you go:

My Recommendation for learning front end/JS

Start familiarizing yourself with the syntax and overall feel for the front end technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on Codecademy, then move onto Code School for more in depth learning (I personally like Freecodecamp.com for review/practice and exercises but not for main source of learning). I love Code school’s curriculum for learning Objects, it’s pretty thorough with good examples.

Once you feel a bit more comfortable, watch Anthony Alicea’s JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Part so on Udemy. This video course is by far the best I’ve learned from; it’s best selling and although Anthony in my personal opinion can be a bit boring as far as his tone of voice, he explains what goes on under the hood of JavaScript and it’s irreplaceable.

After the Udemy course, I’d study You don’t know JS by Kyle Simpson as well as Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke (all available online for free) to deepen my knowledge.

And most importantly, build build build and practice problems (everyday!) using what you learn and take advantage of Stackoverflow and Google for help (and don’t forget some gooood music to get you through tough nights). For problems, I like HackerRank, Coderbyte, and CodeWars. Once you feel comfortable with JS, try Wes Bos’ React (framework) & Node (for backend) course! You can choose other frameworks like Angular but the key is to stick to one and finish; once you do, I’m confident that you can pick up any other technologies. Add in a bit of Responsive Design & git/github (my favorite on Udacity, also available for free). This will keep you busy for quite awhile. Last but not least, be persistent, enjoy the process, and keep in mind that it’s a marathon, not a sprint (I thought I’d master in a few months like how those bootcamps often advertise, who am I kidding xD).

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