freeCodeCamp: Week 1

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freeCodeCamp Coding Challenge

freeCodeCamp Coding Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, it’s been a while since I blogged, but I recently started a new experiment that I want to document. I’ve started working through the curriculum at freeCodeCamp. I’ll explain a little more about what freeCodeCamp is, and talk about my experience so far, but first I’d like to give a little background.

My Early Coding Experience

I’m not new to programming. I got my first taste as a MUD programmer back in the 90s. A MUD is an online multi-user text-based game. I started out as a player and eventually began coding for the game. I was a MUD programmer for a few years and learned a lot about programmer. During that time, I went from being a basic programmer to training new programmers and eventually running the Quality department.

I loved programming. Since that experience, I have always wanted to do it professionally, but somehow that is something that has never come together. I went back to school in 2007 to study Computational Mathematics, with the attention of pursuing a software development career. I earned an Associate of Science degree and then transferred to RIT. I was on the Dean’s List at RIT and expected big things. Sadly, I maxed out my student loans due to an early in life mistake of attending a stupidly expensive for-profit technical school. I know that sounds like a bit of a sob story, but it is what it is.

I couldn’t afford to continue school, so in 2010 I dropped out and have since then just been working full time and dreading my insane student loan debt. Since 2010, I have been working in customer service and technical support. The job I have now is fine–it’s actually a pretty good job–but it’s not the job I want.

Time for a Change

I’ve never stopped wanting to code for a living. People talk about having jobs where every day feels like a vacation, that’s coding for me. I love it. I can get completely lost in it. The last couple of years, I have been wanting to work professionally as a programmer more and more.

Since going back to traditional school is not an option, I’ve been looking at other courses of actions.

I recently heard about coding bootcamps. These are intensive 6 – 12 week programs that are designed to take people from zero to career-ready. When I started to research them, I found out that there are a lot of them and some are very expensive. As I mentioned before, I work in customer service. I don’t have a lot of extra income.

I was considering a Coursera specialization or a Udacity nanodegree, as those are among the more affordable online coding education options. Then I found out about freeCodeCamp, which is free. I like free; it’s my favorite word.

Getting Started at freeCodeCamp

According to my freeCodeCamp profile, I started their program on March 12th, 2017. I am currently on a 10-day streak. So, how’s it going? Pretty good, so far.

The freeCodeCamp curriculum is a mix of tutorials, programming challenges, and projects. The tutorials are broken up into small bits that include a lesson and some practice. The whole course uses JavaScript. The practice assignments and coding challenges are all done in an integrated editor within the freeCodeCamp site.

The projects are done using CodePen, an online web editor. I did read somewhere that freeCodeCamp is working on a full integrated developing environment (IDE) that will run within the site itself. At that point, all coding will be done on their site.

My Experience So Far

As I mentioned earlier, I am currently on a 10-day streak. I am working through the Front End Specialization program. According to their statistics page, just over 4,000 people have earned this specialization.

I’ve found the curriculum so far to be pretty easy to follow, but not without its challenges. I’m currently working on the Tic Tac Toe challenge, which is the second to last challenge to earn the certificate. I’ll talk a little more about my specific challenge experiences in separate posts. I’ll say, at this point, I’ve found them to be fun, reasonably difficult, but not hard. I generally struggle with the design elements the most. Coding the JavaScript is fine, but building the HTML and styling it is a little more difficult. I’m definitely getting better at that, though.

Conclusion

I don’t yet know if freeCodeCamp will help me with my career goals, but I know it can’t hurt. I plan to complete all of the certifications, something which has only been done by just under 200 people. The final certification involves creating a real-world project, so I definitely am hopeful that will help me with those career goals.

I like where I work right now, so I hope when I am done I can get a job with my company.

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