Week One – Functions and Variables and Scopes, Oh My!

Imagine you’re at a fork in the road, with two unknown paths before you. One path looks bumpy and difficult, with rocks and fallen branches littering the way. The other is pathed with grey stone and even has clear, explanatory signposts situated at various points along the route. Between them both is a lush, thick forest of trees that would make it extremely difficult to cross from one path to the other mid-way.

Which path do you take?

For me, taking the pathed, simple path seemed like the most logical choice. I studied for a degree in a subject that I knew I would do well in, moved to a country where I knew I would experience a high quality of living, and then settled into various office jobs with clearly-defined career paths and the promise of good, stable salaries.

Yet, no matter how far I travelled down my safe and simple path, a niggling discomfort at the back of my mind seemed determined to make me regret my decision.
“If only…” I would think, peering over my shoulder to where my journey once began. “I wonder what would have happened if I had taken that other path.”

The feeling that I had made a mistake continued to eat away at me, exacerbated greatly by the events of 2020. Corona had left me in need of a new job, and as I scrolled through the openings in my city, all I could see were IT positions. The job descriptions were exciting, enticing…and completely irrelevant to me and my skill set. With more than one defeated sigh, I settled back into office life; it seemed as though excitement just wasn’t on the cards for me.

I soldiered on, satisfied (if not entirely content) with my life, until one day the overwhelming urge to turn around and start again washed over me like a 6 foot wave.
“It’s too late,” I told myself. “I’ve come too far now, I can’t possibly go back to the start.”
Yet the feeling just would not go away.

Then, an idea hit me. Maybe I couldn’t go all the way back to the start, but perhaps I could learn how to swing an axe and cut my way through the trees to find that other, rocky path.

So, with that, my decision was made.

Starting with JavaScript

Searching for information about how to completely change your career and make your way into the world of IT, I came across an intensive bootcamp held nearby that could teach me the skills I need to find that vital first job.

The bootcamp usually took 3 months, but luckily there was also a part-time option for people like me who couldn’t just leave their jobs and throw themselves full-time into retraining. There was only one issue – this course didn’t accept complete beginners, so I would need to take a foundations-level course first to prepare.

Putting the cost of the bootcamps aside for now (although I will have to face them eventually), I decided to apply for the foundations course and use it as a trial to see if this school and bootcamp system was really ‘right’ for me. I finished my application, set up an interview with the school (which I subsequently missed, and must now reschedule again), and decided to start doing some preparation.

This is how I came to start using Codecademy, an online platform overflowing with lessons and exercises to help guide me through learning multiple different programming languages, concepts and more. As the foundations course I had applied to would be focusing on JavaScript, I decided that this would be the best place to start.

In just a week, I feel like I’ve learned an overwhelming amount of information about JavaScript and how to use it. From my very first experiment with ‘console.log();’ to working on a series of simple projects to calculate sleep debt or allow me to play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ with my computer, I feel as though I’ve really made a small-yet-significant start to achieving my goal.

Of course, things haven’t all been sunshine and roses. With at least two of the projects I’ve attempted this week, I’ve been forced to look at the accompanying tutorial or solution in order to figure out why I was receiving nothing but error messages. Curly brackets have become a repetitive source of frustration, and I still don’t quite understand what I’m doing when it comes to functions.

With that said, however, I feel motivated and hopeful; every time I manage to solve a problem or get rid of that frustrating error message, I feel a sense of achievement that puts a smile on my face and pride in my heart.

A year of code

Finally, this week I decided to set a challenge for myself: a full year of coding every single day.

I don’t mean that I’m forcing myself to slave for hours and hours each day over a computer keyboard. That sounds like a great way to lose motivation, and it doesn’t really fit in with my busy, full-time work schedule either. As long as I write one line of code or even spend some time looking over a new concept or function, I’m counting that as a success.

I started a new twitter account (linked on this website) to document my daily adventures in the world of coding, and I’ll be updating this blog with weekly accounts of what went well (or otherwise) in order to track my progress.

I’m looking forward for whatever is yet to come on my journey, and I’ll be here, blogging about it, every step of the way.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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