How I Learned To Code
From one-day classes to Stanford courses, Natasha continues learning to code at Dev Bootcamp.
By Natasha Murashev (Student, Dev Bootcamp)
Learning to code is one of the most challenging things I’ve accomplished in my life to date. It is also the accomplishment that I’m most proud of.
The journey started two years ago when I moved to San Francisco to work in the tech industry. After about a year, I was sick of standing in the sidelines doing “everything else” without having the power to make any changes myself.
So I decided to learn to code…
One-Day Ruby On Rails Workshop
I’ve always learned through school, so when I wanted to learn to code, I wasn’t sure where to turn. I knew that reading a 1000-page book on programming was not how I learned, and even if that was the case, I didn’t know enough about programming to even know which book to get!
In San Francisco, I heard about a day-long Ruby on Rails workshop, and signed up. The workshop was taught by developers in the community, which I really appreciated, but unfortunately it was taught exactly like this.
The workshop was more focused on having beginners build something in Ruby on Rails by following very specific instructions rather than giving us a long-term plan for learning.
When I came home after the workshop, I thought I was too stupid to be a developer, since what we did at the workshop didn’t seem interesting to me (mostly because I didn’t understand it!) and I didn’t know where to go next. I gave up on coding.
The Online Stanford CS106A Course
Three months after the workshop, I stumbled across an article on Hacker News that suggested starting from the free online Stanford CS106A course. I figured I might as well watch the first lecture, and I was immediately hooked.
Professor Mehran Sahami is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had (even though I’ve met him!). I’ve also always done pretty well in school, so the class format with lectures and assignments was perfect for me. The class is very difficult, especially in the very beginning, but I made sure I wouldn’t give up. I was very lucky to have a developer friend help me when I was really stuck. When he was not available, I was usually able to figure stuff out just by googling the answer. That class gave me a very strong foundation for long-term success.
I decided to learn to Ruby next. I knew it was popular, so why not, right?! I loved learning online after the Stanford course experience, so I signed up for the best online Ruby class I could find.
It was the best $50 I’ve ever spent! With my strong programming foundation from the Stanford Course and an on-demand tutor from RubyLearning to correct my mistakes, I was learning A LOT.
After the course, I used my new Ruby skills to help my developer friend write some crawlers for a project he was working on. It was the first time I got to actually contribute to a project, and it felt good!
I knew I had to learn Rails next. Unfortunately, the best online resource for learning Rails is the Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. The tutorial feels a lot like the one-day Rails workshop I went to. I can follow instructions and build stuff, but it’s not very good at explaining why things are the way they are for someone who’s never built a web application before.
The Rails tutorial demotivated me. I also couldn’t find any good online Rails courses, so I spent the next 3 months focused on other thing, one of which included writing an online education report. In the process of writing the report, I stumbled on an article that mentioned Dev Bootcamp, an intensive 10-week Ruby on Rails program in San Francisco focused on creating world class beginners.
As soon as I saw this program, I knew I had to figure out a way to do it. I don’t want to be just a developer, I want to be a good developer. I also needed a lot more help learning Rails, since it has so many moving parts.
Ironically, getting into Dev Bootcamp motivated me to give the Ruby on Rails tutorial another try, and once I had a small project in mind to work on, I was able to understand Rails.
I still remember the moment it all made sense. It felt like I had a new superpower. I knew I could now do anything, and it felt invigorating. Until that point, I was learning to program because I knew I needed it, and I was not willing to quit, but at that moment I finally started to love it.
I’m currently attending Dev Bootcamp, and absolutely love it. I will write more about my experience in another post, since this one got pretty long.
Advice I Wish Someone Told Me
Learning to program takes a lot of time and dedication. If you are really passionate about learning to code so you can build stuff, think of it as more of a 10 year goal versus a one day or even a one year goal.
Learning to code is a very emotional experience. When you can’t solve a problem, you will feel like a worthless human being. But when you do solve it, you will feel like you own the world, which is one of the best feelings you’ll ever have. And no matter how “good” you get, there will always be something that you don’t know or doesn’t work and that you can continue improving on or learning.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Natasha Murashev is currently a student at Dev Bootcamp. She has been learning to code for the past year, and is currently honing her self-taught Ruby on Rails skills at Dev Bootcamp. In her spare time, Natasha is hacking away on a stealth startup in the online education space. You can follow Natasha’s experience at her blog. Follow her on Twitter at @natashatherobot.