Reflection on a 35 Day Streak
The Beginning of the Beginner
Many years ago in high school I had taken a Web Design course and absolutely loved it. HTML & CSS were my jam and it was a class I always looked forward to. It never occurred to me to truly think about pursuing those skills further. I knew I liked what I was doing, but no one really talked about jobs as a developer.
Fast forward going to college and getting both my bachelors and masters degrees I always kept the love for HTML & CSS close by, but career-wise ended up in Higher Education. I found ways to incorporate these skills into course design, projects and web updates for our organization website. I absolutely love what I do professionally, but I wanted to find a way to legitimize my skill sets and truly learn the foundation of coding.
*Enter Pandemic* *Enter Codecademy*
March 2019 was the last hint of what use to be our normal. Having to worry about quarantine and navigating a whole new lifestyle was a challenge to say the least. I ended up being very lucky to have the ability to work from home. With the extra time I gained back from commuting to and from work I knew it was the perfect time to explore taking classes in coding. I did some investigative searching on Google for the best courses or programs and Codecadmy was one of the first to pop up. I had never had any experience with coding bootcamps, courses or programs so I figured I would take some time to test it out. Within the first 10 minutes of the Learn HTML course I was hooked and was on to the Pro membership. I loved the style of how the lessons were set up, the projects, the practice options. It all made sense to me and I was having so much fun.
I soon learned about the Group Focus sessions with Lil and found that to be a great way to stay on track with my goal of hitting the 30 day streak. It was also great to meet others who have a love for coding. While I am truly just a beginner, it was insightful to hear about the more advanced level projects that others were working on and to see that there were others like me who were just starting out. The forums also became a guiding source for how to navigate challenge projects, learning about GitHub and navigating the ins and outs of coding basics.
35 Days of Coding - What It Looked Like For MeAs you can tell from the title I had achieved my goal for the 30 day streak and actually went on to make it 35 days. Here are my takeaways from this experience:
While initially I had started with a Skill Path, I found that because I was focused on building a solid foundation first, the individual courses were how I decided to tackle my learning. I started with Learn HTML then Learn CSS and Learn Color Design.(I personally love Color Theory)
Since I work full-time, I had to be strategic about planning for time to code. I would choose 2-3 days a week (typically weekends and late evenings) where I would focus on completing multiple lessons and then the remainder of the week I would do the practice packs in the app version of Codecademy on my phone or iPad. This was great to help reinforce content I had learned.
I found it was always best to complete a lesson and try not to leave it partially completed. Mostly due to the fact that it would sometimes be hard to pick up where I left off. It was easier to start fresh with a new lesson.
Don’t forget about the Challenge Projects! (List of Challenge Projects) I went all the way through the Learn HTML course and almost all of Learn CSS before doing one of the challenge projects and I wish I had tackled them sooner. It’s a great way to make sure you fully understand the concept and can put them to practice.
Cheatsheets are awesome! For many of the lessons you’ll see there is a link for a cheatsheet. For some, I actually printed out the cheatsheets and then used that to also take notes on the side while I was going through a lesson. If you’re a visual learner, I highly recommend doing that if possible.
Spelling and spacing is way more important than I ever realized. I’m sure every beginner in coding has said this, but I ran into many occasions where my code was perfectly fine, but I was missing a letter in a word or a space or a wrong bracket. Sometimes it really can be that simple so take your time and don’t rush, it literally could mean the difference from well executed code and wracking your brain forever trying to figure out what went wrong.
Overall, my experience has been really positive and fulfilling. I’ve gotten to start the journey of sharpening my skills, connect with people who are also interested in coding and get into a groove of making coding a regular part of my schedule. This is only the beginning and I am truly looking forward to learning so much more. With the skills I learn, I hope to continue infusing them into my current full-time role and work on projects of my own. For anyone just starting out, Codecademy is a great place to call home and get started.