How I Discovered My Desire to Learn to Code

Authored by Brian Douglas  (aka BDougie)

brian-2x

In the fall of 2013, I found myself in the hospital for 10 weeks due to the premature birth of my son, who came 11 weeks early. It was tough for my wife and me. We essentially lived in our small hospital room for 12 weeks, only going home to change clothes.

Prior to that, I had a great job selling IT equipment as a consultant at a large distributor. I enjoyed the job very much because of my interest in technology. Since I was young I’d had the desire to build websites and mobile applications, but never felt equipped to learn how. I had built an Android app using a tutorial on YouTube and bought a book on Java, but I was also getting promoted in my sales job and found it hard to deviate from that career path.

After my son was born I realized that I wanted to follow my dream to work more closely with technology. I aimed to become an expert and be a father my son could be proud of. So I made it my mission to succeed, despite how busy I was. Once my son came home from the hospital and things settled down, I began spending my mornings and nights learning.

I discovered Rails from many recommendations on Reddit and YouTube but specifically found this video that convinced me Rails was the way to go. I even flew through the OneMonthRails (OMR) tutorial, which I highly recommend for anyone just as determined as myself.

I also read No Degree, No Problem by Joshua Kemp, who went from being a blacksmith to a coder with no degree. It inspired me; if he could accomplish this goal, so could I.

While researching Ruby I found out about Dev Bootcamp, an in-person coding bootcamp, and instantly became excited. I could quit my job, move to Chicago or San Francisco and become a programmer, all in less than 6 months! When I explained my dream out loud to my wife, reality hit.

               

My son was barely four months old at the time, and I had no way of paying the remainder of the hospital bills for a newborn, taking care of him and my wife, and our daily expenses without an income. With great disappointment, I gave up that plan and moved on, learning exclusively with tools like Udemy and Codecademy. I was progressing but all I had to show for it was my OMR site.

Eventually, I discovered a new bootcamp called Bloc, which turned out to be an online apprenticeship. I signed up for Bloc after reading every article I could and even interviewing a student who completed the program. I found nothing else that compared to having an actual mentor work one-on-one with me through the program. I learned the basics of Ruby that I struggled with only weeks before and built a working web app in less than two weeks.

My code wasn’t amazing but I knew how it worked and could reproduce other apps. I was gaining experience and even began to work on an app that I thought of called Chuych.

While I was in my Bloc program, I was promoted twice at my sales job and was earning as much as a junior developer. I considered putting my journey toward development on hold to focus on my growing sales career.

Then I thought back to the original reason why I wanted to learn how to program. I knew that despite how much money I made in corporate sales, it wasn’t worth more than obtaining the dream of being truly happy with my work and building applications.

I always admired my grandpa who spent time serving in the Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his years of service, he became a cop in Washington D.C. and then decided to pick up masonry trade skills to lay bricks in California.

He chose to follow his dream out to California and work on projects that would outlive his lifetime. Similarly, I wanted my son to be able to look back at my work and say, “My dad built this.”

I now work as a programmer and enjoy every minute of it. Not only do I get more time to spend with my family, but I also get to work on interesting projects with great people.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on RedditEmail this to someone