"it does not get you to expertise, yet it jumpstarts you"

Today is Week 4 Day 5, and I cannot believe one third of the course has gone by so quickly. I’ve gathered a list of technical topics I want to share, but I can’t seem to find the time to write about them because I’m constantly working on my applications. Today I am going to talk about the difference between learning coding at home using online resources versus taking an immersive course with instructors and other students. I feel that a lot of people also have this concern in mind, “Hey, the course is so expensive, is it worth it?”

I self taught myself how to code a few months before I enroll into WDI at GA, so I took countless codeschool or codeacademy exercises, read about ten books about different topics such as Ruby, Rails, jQuery etc, did a few tutorials, and built a few simple app with Rails. I did not know how much I taught myself until I’m writing this blog post right now. Nevertheless, I still decided to join an immersive course in New York because they provide experience you’ll never get on your own. I constantly ask myself, “Is this the right decision?”, and to be honest, I was asking myself the same question in Week 1 because I have seen or tried writing so much code in the past few months that learning from the basics seem like learning algebra 2 again.

So we started off the course learning Ruby, then Sinatra, and now Rails with a bunch of small topics in between. I slowly realized I was wrong. Teaching myself really did get me a jump start to start building with the help of Rails and the dozens of gems out there, but I never really truly understand what each line does. Learning from basics got me thinking, even a simple Ruby program or a Rails app without scaffold become good practice for me. Yesterday I was helping another student for about an hour and half with his Rails app, and do you know how I felt? I felt like a ninja because I understand the connection between codes in Model, View, and Controller! I’m able to explain and guide someone else.

Learning from basics and getting plenty of practice is just one reason why I would recommend taking an immersive course. The other reasons kicked in this week as we had a panel of Rails developer coming in to speak about their experience and career journey, and give legit advice on how to get there. We also had a field trip yesterday to a New York Startup called How About We. I’ve been to the website before and I thought it is a young startup with maybe 10 employees max, and I was truly impressed when I walked in I to room of about 30 people (thats just half of them). The best part is yet to come, CEO Aaron Schildkrout, gave us a talk about development process which starts from ideation, to quarterly evaluate new ideas, to how design and development team have sprints to carry out production. I was smiling the whole time simply because I was amazed with all these things, I was fascinated! I’ve always been interested in startup and there is so much knowledge out there I want to learn. I thought to myself, “This is exactly the environment I want to be in, and this is exactly the process and work I love.” Leaving their office with tons of enlightenment, I know I picked the right path that I love, and I know I made a good decision joining an immersive course because it opens up more knowledge to me than sitting in front of my laptop at home every day.