Halfway Through the Bootcamp: Lessons from a Developing Developer

Everyone’s coding journey and learning pace is different, so more than general lessons, I’m gifting myself this personal post, mainly because I know Vanessa from the future will love reading this some time later, when I am much more further down my coding journey.

Photo by Dean Pugh on Unsplash

I am now on week 16 of the coding bootcamp, which is already more than halfway. Nostalgia kicks in as we are about to start our last Sprint…

Having come this far, and with a bunch of shiny, new projects to show for it on my portfolio (Yes! I have a portfolio now!), I have routines I go back to when coding: steps I follow when starting a new project and definitely favorite parts throughout the whole process.
Here I want to reflect on the aspects that have stuck with me the most, mainly because they have taught an unexpected lesson or have been the ones that I’ve had to put more thought into to overcome. There’s two of those:

Surprisingly, I’m much more about building the logic behind a project than coming up with fantastic design.
This was a fun one to discover! My background in Graphic Design is what got me interested in Frontend Development, but it was the problem solving aspect that made me stay.

Most of the time I will start by implementing all the functionality, maybe aim for some of the advanced tasks too, since those are the most challenging and where I can play with new approaches. By the end of this stage, my project will work as intended, but look black/white and have nothing but the default browser styling.

Styling is my last step of the process, and I’m probably not giving this step enough credit (the wonders you can do with CSS are incredible! And implementing good CSS is not an easy endeavor), but it’s just not the most exciting part for me or where I want to spend more time on and dig deeper.

Coming up with catchy design is not my forte, so I’ve had to come up with ways to still deliver visually pleasing projects:
- Use design resources to get inspiration: sites like Dribble, Behance have been super useful!
- Watching designer interviews and how they approach their creative process also gives me good ideas.
- Follow CSS tutorials, there’s always some new styling property to learn: I recommend CSS Tricks and everything Josh Comeau puts out there.
- Ask for help from designer team mates: there’s some people who just have that EYE for design and are thorough with details that make a difference, reach out to them and ask for feedback.

The second one, and probably the most valuable for me so far (sounds a bit silly, but it was the one I had to learn to embrace): There are several possible and valid ways to solve a problem.

The toughest week I’ve had during the bootcamp was one were solving the problem was not the issue, rather me having solved it in a complete different way than the one shown to us during lessons. (Disclaimer: the bootcamp is super supportive about us coming up with our own approaches, I just probably didn’t reach out on time to figure that out sooner).

As I mentioned before, my favorite part of building a new project is coming up with the logic, I can spend hours so focused going at it!
I probably have already come up with a solution before we have the first code along or lesson. I like challenging myself this way and I’m so proud when I’ve been able to make that connection by myself, even if it ends up being not the most effective approach or best practice, I believe it makes me grow as a programmer.

The issue came when I became so insecure about submitting my project, even when it worked exactly as intended, just because I solved it differently. I’m not sure why I took it that far, but I was super scared of being told I’ve done something crazy and I should start all over, like that would be the end of the world.

I convinced myself to submit it as is, to later on get good comments about trying out my own thing plus some valuable feedback on a more effective way to go about it. Talking to one of my coaches, he also pointed out how I’ve now learned two ways of solving a problem, this is positive!
I’m still learning, I’m trying my best and hopefully one day I have enough knowledge to determine which is the best approach.

Lessons learned:
- It’s okay to ask for help, not know everything and reach out and talk to people when you are confused (or feeling down!).
- Everyone has different opinions on what is the best approach, this won’t change and this won’t be the last time there is a discussion about what is best.
- Be humble and listen when people give me feedback: I’m just at the beginning of my learning, there’s more experienced devs out there who know better and want to help me and see me grow.

Former Vegan Chef, now Fullstack Developer | JavaScript lover ~