The one where she’s in over her head

Here’s a general picture of how my first 6 weeks at school went.  My instructors can confirm that this is pretty much how things were, although it’s possible they’re no longer working in education after working with a few students like me.

The day begins.  Unlimited possibilities!  I take notes through a 90-minute lecture covering server vs. client, NPM, expressJS, websockets, templating, and swig. It all makes perfect sense.

Sit down for coding portion of workshop, open on the web portal.

Try to figure out what expressJS is.  In the middle of an article from Daily JS, I am encouraged by TA’s to, ‘Just play around with it, you’ll figure it out!’ I use the terminal to accidentally create an express project in a nameless folder.

Get about 50 errors trying to create a Sublime command in terminal, because of .. something.  A bunch of “You are about to… Are you sure?”

No, damnit, I’m not sure.

Give up.  Drag each file individually into Sublime.

confused stick figurePuzzle through all the cryptic files in the express project.  Try to figure out how they fit together.  My instructor is trying to tell me something but the node console is now flashing red and yellow error messages, over and over and over.  I can’t get it to stop.  I can’t get it to STOP!

Restart my terminal.  Restart my browser.  Forget my workshop portal password and wait for the reset email to come through.

Look through the files some more.  Try to figure out where I’m supposed to type.

Oh no!  The internet is down!  Wait — that was just my mouse USB coming unplugged.

Re-plug mouse.  Finally manage to get some text from Sublime into the browser.  Then the whole thing shuts down again.  “undefined,” something something, no line number, …

Coding classmate comes by and asks if I got p6 working yet.  I’m still on p2.

25 minutes later… Turns out I put my jQuery code before loading jQuery into my file.  Also you’re not supposed to make an unnamed express project.  Also I wrote ‘sting’ instead of ‘String’.  Someone is trying to explain to be about how capitalization matters in JavaScript but not in HTML.  Someone else is talking to me about my abysmal indenting.  Also, when the directions said to delete line 12 of app.js, they actually meant line 13 of app.js, because expressJS has been updated since these directions were written. And my crash is due to … … one or more of these, or maybe something else.

On to p3.


New Year, Fresh Start

It’s a new year, and I’m beginning my first full-time development job.  Today I pushed my first code to productgirl jumpingion.  I could not be more thrilled!

2014 was a big year.  I quit my job, went back to school at Fullstack Academy, learned how to do big-kid javascript, built 13 full-stack applications, and learned how to work with many emerging technologies, from d3 to tessel to CSS animations.

As I approach my new job, I want to make sure that 2015 is an even bigger year.  My current goal is not to get broader by learning a bunch of new languages, but instead to solidify my understanding of what I’m doing now — front-end JavaScript, CSS3, HTML5, and their associated libraries.  I propose the following set of goals:


Increase proficiency with git, completing all 50 levels on githug

Continue to push at least 2 commits to github per week (personal projects)

Become a regular contributor to one open-source repo

Present at 2 Meetups or conferences


Create a new d3 web app based on a current news event or issue

Read EcmaScript 6 — all of it

Learn reactJS

Learn coffeescript (necessary for my current role)

Learn to work with a templating language other than swig, such as handlebarsJS

Solidify knowledge of promises and use them in a project

Be able to implement all JavaScript array methods without having to look up documentation online

Learn how to write and run effective unit, integration, and e2e tests in jasmine and mocha


Play around with 6 emerging technologies or libraries, including CSS animations, polymer, handlebars

Test out and review 10 of the hottest mobile apps this year

Create a personal project using PhotoShop and Illustrator, so that I’m able to use basic features effectively in both programs (necessary for job, useful in the future)


I’ve included several public-facing goals that are not directly related to learning, such as presenting at meetups and contributing regularly to an open source project.  These help me stay accountable to my learning by creating pressure to be able to explain what I’m learning, subjecting my understanding to scrutiny.

The fun goals in the list help me stay up on the latest technologies outside my specific realm, but they’re all things that I’d enjoy doing anyway.

What did you set out to accomplish in your first year?

Surviving Bootcamp

I’m now coding 8-9 hours a day at FullStack and at home.  That’s on top of 2 hours of commuting (when I’m also reading coding blogs…). This can be mentally and physically exhausting, but after six weeks, I’ve learned some tricks to keep me going. 


1. Plan Ahead

I don’t have time to rush around the house looking for my shoes, or to run out to the grocery store at the last minute if I forgot something.  I plan the week’s meals — lunch and dinner — on the weekends, and prepare anything I’ll need.  I tend to cook in bulk and eat a lot of leftovers. Likewise, each night I pack my bag for the next day, including laying out my clothes on a chair.  

2. Healthy Snacks

I keep healthy snacks around at all times to keep me energized.  There’s nothing more awful than the feeling I get after eating a bunch of junk food.  When I’m tempted to eat a big bowl of ice cream, I head for the orange juice pops in my freezer.  I keep almonds in my bag, for the days when I’m on the go and need some sustenance.  When I’m coding and I get the munchies, I turn to fresh veggies like celery and carrots, or to those thick pretzels that have satisfying crunch with very few calories.  I always eat a lot of protein for lunch, and that combined with healthy snacks sustains me through the day.

3. Flow

Each day, I try to do one activity that completely takes my mind off of coding, something I really enjoy.  The ones that work best are right-brained activities where you can get totally absorbed.  I like playing the piano, working on an art project or a puzzle, or tackling an organization project around the house.  I finish these activities feeling refreshed, almost as if some kind of reset button has been triggered in my mind.