Reflecting on the First 5 Weeks of Engineering Immersion at Thinkful

You thirsty? — — — Photo by Michael Jeffrey on Unsplash

It’s honestly pretty difficult to believe that I’m already nearly a third of the way through my software engineering program with Thinkful.

Just two months ago, I was drilling FreeCodeCamp and CodeWars. I came into bootcamp with what I thought was a fairly solid grasp of basic JavaScript and HTML. And I definitely did.

But man, has the past month been like drinking from a firehose.

In the past 5 week’s I’ve:

  • Exponentially increased my JavaScript, HTML, and CSS skills
  • Learned jQuery
  • Got comfortable with jQuery
  • Built a Shakespeare Quiz application
  • Learned how to use APIs
  • Created a Bookmarks application
  • Learned the basics of React
  • …struggled with react
  • Had breakthroughs with React!
  • Learned more complex React concepts… and struggled with them.
  • Refactored a computer customization interface
  • Built a Book Search Application that connected to GoogleBooks
  • Built a Trello clone
  • Built a Star Wars Search Application the connected to SWAPI.

All together, I’ve written over 7,000 lines of code so far. And that’s a conservative estimate. Dang.

What I Feel Good About:

I honestly feel great about my JavaScript skills at this point. One of my cohort-mates who I paired with the other day called me “the Bobby Fischer of code” which is, of course, as preposterous as it is hilarious. I have a long way to go. Is my code always the most elegant? No. Do solutions come to me instantly? Nope. Do I need to google things a lot? Of course. But more and more, I feel like I have the skill and wherewithal to tackle any challenge that I run into.

I’m also feeling great about about my overall understanding of the process of building web apps. I know that I can sit down in the morning with an idea, plan it out, and have an MVP version up and running before I go to bed at night. It’s exhilarating, to be honest. And the more I learn, the more I build, the more ideas come to me. If you’re just starting out learning, get to this point as quick as you can. Learn the basics of JS, HTML, and CSS. Learn how to pull data from an API. Learn how to deploy your site simply with GitHub Pages. And Go. Build. Something. As much as I’ve learned from workshops and class readings and drills, the things that stick are the things I learned building and deploying projects, however small.

What I Feel… Less Good About:

React. Man, have I struggled with React. I struggled with it before bootcamp, and that struggle has continued. I do have my brain wrapped around the basics though. I’ve hit a point with it now where I know the answer is just more reps. I need to build more things with React, run into more problems, and drill how to solve them into my brain. Going from “complete brain fry” to “grasp of the basics” wasn’t easy, but it happened, which gives me more confidence that I can go from where I’m at now to being really comfortable with the framework.

Now, we’re switching our focus to back-end development with Node, Express, and Postgres. I am very excited to build more robust projects. Without building out the server-side and having a way for data to persist, most projects have had a bit of ephemerality to them. Soon, they’ll be much stronger.

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Andrew Coleburn

Andrew Coleburn

Big ‘ole nerd. Software Developer @ Bitovi. Follow me on Twitter @ARColeburn