Last Day Of Class At Hackbright: The First Day Of Lifelong Learning

hackbright_academy

Everyone has learned and supported each other, and I know that just because we graduated doesn’t mean we stop.

By Mercedes Coyle (Graduate, Hackbright Academy)

It really hasn’t hit me yet that this amazing 10 weeks of collaborative learning, problem solving, sometimes frustration, epiphanies, and bonding with 15 other indescribably fantastic women is coming to an end. I’ve been so focused on writing code the past few weeks that my keyboard has not had a purpose for anything resembling the English language.

It’s been difficult to put into words how transformative this experience has been for me. In my previous attempts to learn programming and bash (ha ha) my way into system administration, I often felt confused and completely in the dark, without even the language to articulate to my colleagues what I needed help with. I had some failures, and some definite wins; but overall, it was an experience that left me drained and frustrated. I felt like I had all these little pieces that I had figured out independently, but no clue as to how to put them all together. I was stuck, intimidated, and a little resentful of those who were able to connect the dots so easily.

On the first day of Hackbright, that all changed. In our sweltering classroom at Hackbright Academy with 15 other nervous, nerdy, and excited ladies, I dropped all my reservations, hesitations, and just went for it. I realized that I took a long shot, and ended up on this path because I chose to be here and I can make it work. And it did! I look back on myself 6 months ago, trying to get a Ruby environment or install MySQL with macports and correctly set my path, and figure out just where are those packages that I just installed… and I’m proud that those issues are mere memories now. Vagrant, which seemed completely baffling and useless to me at the time I tried to work with it for a project at my job, is suddenly so simple and useful and OMG why did I not figure this out before it’s totally awesome!?

I’m excited about code. I’m excited about servers. I’m ecstatic that I think I’ve finally found a track that will keep me doing what I really wanted to be doing all along – lifelong learning and problem solving.

This week, we’ve been focusing on interviewing with potential employers (some of whom I’d be ecstatic to work for) and tidying up the loose ends, and I haven’t touched much code in three days. I’m feeling the itch to go back and keep working on my project, or maybe start a new one with another idea that I’ve had floating around in my brain for the past couple of months, or maybe I’ll teach myself how to properly setup a dev environment for Ruby (maybe I’ll use vagrant so I can keep my current machine sanitized :)

There are so many things I want to do now, and they don’t seem out of reach or hopeless. And I know everyone I’ve worked with over the past 10 weeks can do these things too. I’m really impressed with how much everyone has learned and supported each other, and I know that just because we graduated doesn’t mean we stop. We all have the tools, vocabulary and problem solving skills to keep going at ramming speed.

Adios, Hackbright. I’ll miss you. But I’ll be back soon! I still have a key.

This post was originally posted at Mercedes Coyle’s blog.

Women 2.0 readers: How have you learned to code or build your own app? Let us know in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Mercedes Coyle is a recent graduate of Hackbright Academy. Before Hackbright, she worked as a mac support specialist and system admin, coaxing laptops and servers into shape. Long before discovering the path to systems and programming, she studied ceramics and photography at San Francisco State University. When she’s not writing code or playing with linux, she can be found sewing on the industrial machines at TechShop. Follow her on Twitter at @benzobot.