HackerYou - A Development Diary

Learning is fun; but without an effective structure, direction, and accountability, it can quickly become demoted to the bottom of the to-do list. We've all done it- vowed to learn a new language, commit to self-improvement, or "make this the year you finally make "x" happen." But when the going gets tough, it becomes ever-so-tempting to pretend you had never set that goal in the first place.

As a freelance designer, I would often set aside blocks of time in my days to learn to code on my own initiative. I tried a variety of online tutorial sites, none of which had the gravitational pull to make me stay committed to learning. When a client wanted a project turned around within 24 hours, their cry for help inevitably became the priority. Two hours of CodeAcademy could wait until another day.

Except that eventually, it couldn't wait any longer.

I began feeling limited by my design-oriented skill set. I wanted to make. I wanted to break things, fix them again, and tinker my way to a finished product that was semantically, visually and experientially powerful. But I had no idea know where to start. And I was quickly experiencing equal parts discouragement and apathy. When you make a vow to learn a new skill, apathy is the enemy.

Enter, HackerYou. It fought off apathy with a flaming pitchfork of knowledge. This special place marked the real beginning of my coding journey.

I started this journey in September 2014. Courses ran twice a week, and I began to learn the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and responsive design in a structured environment. I thought, "wow, I love this place. This isn't a burden, this is FUN." It surprised me, and I surprised myself with my progress; not to mention the amazing things my peers were creating. I started applying what I was learning to client projects after class. This was really helpful (to myself and my clients) but I still needed more. More lines of code, more learning, and more of those amazing people.

Which brings me to the present moment. I'm now one part HackerYou alumnus, and the other part student. I'm learning advanced HTML & CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and Wordpress in a full-time, 9-week course.

In class today, I found myself looking back to one year ago, when I was feeling incomprehensibly lost and unfulfilled. I was working in a role that didn't satisfy me creatively, something I soon realized was absolutely crucial to my employment experience. My creativity is the value I bring to this world, and it was heartbreaking to know that my most powerful muscle wasn't being flexed.

Many pivotal experiences in my life have passed me by without documentation. I vow that this one will be different. This experience comes at a time of year where we're all especially in tune with goal setting and personal development. I hope to share my story of learning to motivate others to pick their own mountain and climb it with confidence.

So with that, I'll be documenting my development journey at HackerYou. Every week for the next nine weeks, I'll be candid about my struggles & successes. If beneficial for nothing other than free (yet very public) therapy, I can't wait to share this experience with you.

Whether you're looking to learn to code, take control of your career, or make this the year you make "x" happen, know that it can be done. Find the right environment, positive people that will keep you motivated and accountable, and the desire & drive to kick apathy's ass.

Let's get this code on the road! (very bad joke, but this signoff needed some emphasis.)

-A

HackerYouAndrea <3