The Firehose Project - Week 1

Prequel

Technically speaking Monday marked my first week with the Firehose Project’s full stack web development bootcamp but since today was the first office hours/group session I will consider today to be my first week. Anyways this is just to be a record of my journey through the bootcamp. I plan on doing a weekly overview of what we have gone over and the progression through the course.

First off this all didn’t start with just jumping in to the bootcamp but with a pre-course. The pre-course is an introductory course into the web development bootcamp. The intentions of the pre-course is to get you up to snuff before that actual bootcamp. In the pre-course you go over the basics of HTML, CSS, and Ruby. You start off easy by getting your toes dipped into the web development waters by building a splash page with a little bit of content. Not difficult per se but informative nonetheless. But maybe I should zoom out a bit and go back a little ways before I go on because I’m going to make some bold statements on my own progress through this stage.

I started really taking grasp and pursuing web development 3 months prior starting with One Month’s One Month Rails course. It is here where I fell in love the Rails and decided being a web dev is the path that I want to take. From that moment I’ve dove in and pushed forward absorbing as much as I can while building simple apps and sites for my personal growth. That’s not where I ended though, I was still struggling with Rails and need more knowledge and there is so much out there that it is a Herculean task to figure it out and organize it all on your own, people who can do this big ups!

Figuring that I will just be doggy paddling through all this stuff and not really learning how to swim because I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I decided to go another route, I needed guidance. That’s where Treehouse comes in. Treehouse’s track seemed intriguing and a worthy place to stick my money to find out the right information that I needed. From day one I was learning, alot. Started with HTML, CSS, and Javascript we then got into Ruby then Rails. This portion of my journey taught me more and in return I feel more in love with development. It wasn’t enough though and I wasn’t learning quick enough. Enter bootcamps.

After long hours, days, and nights trying to find the right bootcamp I stumbled across theFirehoseProject’s free 2 week pre-course I signed up for it, honestly without intentions of going to theFirehoseProject for my bootcamp but it was free, I’m frugal, and I crave knowledge like a crack fiend craves crack. The thing was I stumbled upon theFirehoseProject and it all sort of came together when I started the pre-course. This is where I met Marco (co-founder), Ken (co-founder), and Ben (former student).

In my opinion the instructors, mentors, and alumni need to be as approachable, helpful, and kind as the course needs to comprehensive and beneficial to growth; theFirehoseProject does not lack in quality personnel. Marco was super involved with talking to me and asking how he could help, Ken was quick to answer my questions and to give me hints when I got stuck in the pre-course, and Ben was there to review my code submissions, give me tips, and advice on changing roles from system administrative roles to web development roles. These interactions were a huge testament to what I would be dealing with if I chose to sign up for the full bootcamp.

Okay now back to the pre-course. The pre-course gave me information, direction, and positive reinforcement to keep working hard at learning to become a developer. My previous attempts throughout the years have always hit a brick wall and I never could get past it. Blame it on a different mindset, goals, or place in life but I just could never get past the hurdles until theFirehoseProject. Here I got the explanations and assistance to push past my brick walls and get a better understanding of what I was doing. In the 2 weeks I had to go through the pre-course I had learned more and better yet comprehended more than I had in the previous half decade of attempts on learning to code.

Needless to say when I got through the pre-course I was sold, no other convincing needed to be addressed. My experience between the team and alumni was fantastic and the knowledge alone that I learned from the pre-course was worth so much more than any other attempts or money spent on learning web development. I talked to Marco and we discussed a few things and I took a weekend to think about my future and whether or not I was going to pull the trigger and exactly when I was going to do it. Honestly, I was sold already I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t just an impulse reaction since I worked hard for the money that I had saved for this and I don’t have many opportunities to come into that kind of money on a regular basis. The stars aligned for this all to happen in the previous 6 months. I committed, paid up, and had a start date.

The Beginning - Week 1

Week 1 kicked off with a video conference meeting with Marco, our first face to face interaction. Basically this conference call is all about just learning more about the bootcamp, making introductions, going over expectations, choosing a path, and gaining access to the curriculum. It was pretty quick and painless. We discussed the direction of where I want to take my future. While I have an idea for an app, it’s not that complicated and my main goal was to work on a team doing complex difficult problems. What this meant was that instead of taking the entrepreneur route through the bootcamp where I designed, built, and launched an app by the end I would instead do a complex group project in the end, this was the better route and better decision for me. After the 30 minute conversation, I had access, and I was off to the races.

The first app we build is a quote generator app. The premise of the app is to randomly display a quote from the database when someone visits the website or when the click a button to display another quote. Nothing too complex but within the first handful of lessons I was already learning a lot, not much about rails but more about configuring a development environment and elements of the web framework Bootstrap. Bootstrap was something I was fairly confortable with and I thought I knew quite a bit about it but within the first day I learned how the grid system works and this gave me a comprehension and “ah-ha” moment when portions of web designing just clicked. I knew now how to get that div exactly where I wanted it without having to hack my way to creating margins and paddings to make it work, the old way was sloppy this way was elegant.

Getting past the looks of the app we dug into the development and functionality of the application. Most of it was a recap of some of the things that I have already done with previous tutorials but what it did do is give me a more comprehensive knowledge of what I was doing. It wasn’t just following a tutorial but it was explaining why we are doing the things that we are doing, something that was missing from every other tutorial that I had done to date. In 3 days I went start to finish, have I mentioned how much I love this shit yet because I do. What probably should’ve on average take a week to complete I finished in 3 days because I just wanted to keep doing more. The program compels me to keep working.

By now I’ve got my first application and got the go ahead to move onto the next application Nomster, a yelp like clone. I immediately built my new environment and got cracking on it. With this one I’ve paced myself a little bit more and taking my time to expand on the things we are learning. In the meantime though I got my introduction to my mentor for my next 3 months. The mentor, an important and essential part to learning how code quickly and efficiently. I have already had a few conversations and looked into his background and I’m already impressed. This isn’t some guy who just graduated from school and is teaching without actually having extensive real world experience (like some other online bootcamps). I will officially get the first face to face with him tomorrow.

Still within this first we I got my introduction to Office Hours, group Q&A basically. All the current students get together in a video conference and can submit questions that have arisen in the last week. From there Marco and Ken answer questions and discuss certain topics. I was admittedly late for my first group office hours due to an emergency with a clients server but I rushed home and still managed to make the last half which ended up going nearly and hour long so I got some good stuff out of it.

To recap from my experience up to Week 1, I am super happy with my decision. My depth of knowledge has grown and more importantly my comprehension of essential parts of the web development process have solidified. The best part about this whole part is that it’s getting harder and more complex, I love solving problems and learning complex information. I’m genuinely excited to keep coming back and keep working harder and harder to accomplish my goals. I haven’t felt this driven to accomplish a goal in a really long time, if ever. I just keep wanting more.

So going forward I will be working through the bootcamp, obviously, but I’m going to also be giving you a recap of the things I have completed and the impressions that I have had. I’m doing this for a few reasons. Firstly for posterity sake so that I can see where I started and be able to see my progression. Secondly for potential future employers to follow along with my progress, hell yes to shameless self-promotion. Thirdly and most importantly so share my experience with other potential future web developers and Firehose students because this bootcamp and these great group of guys are worth investing in so that you can in return have a top notch experience to invest in your own future.

That’s all for now, happy coding…

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