Can a Navy veteran become a software developer?

I’m going back to bootcamp!  Back to sleeping in a sweaty open bay with 80 other dudes, fun!

Just kidding!

Not going back to real military bootcamp, though for kids I’d highly encourage it.  It builds a lot of discipline.

Nah man.  I’m actually going to go through Coding Dojo’s 14 week bootcamp to learn to become a Full-Stack Web Developer.

What does a full-stack dev do?  He oversees the whole website; from ensuring the look and feel of the site is sweet, to ensuring the user can get information from the database when the user demands it.

Basically a website is a highly complex beast and you need someone who can manage every aspect of it.  He is not a total expert at one thing, just has to know what’s up.

According to the website Sitepoint, the definition of full stack developer is:

Being a full-stack developer means to have an open mind towards new technologies, having your hands dirty in each one and to have an understanding of how a web application gets done from concept to design to the finished product.

The idea of a “full-stack developer” isn’t about being fluent in every possible technology there is because specialization exists for a reason. It’s more about having an understanding in each of the areas above, to communicate intelligently between team members and to be a good asset if the situation needs it.

If you were in the Navy, it’s kinda like the captain of the website no?  

Alright, that’s the destination.  Set course towards CodingDojo, learn what I have to learn and at the end become a full stack developer.  What will I do?  Create websites that do cool stuff of course.

I’ll make a website that can cook you eggs and pancakes.

So I am documenting the journey. They always speak of the journey being pretty sweet.  So I’m just going to just go with the flow really and not care about the other stuff.  Gonna concentrate on coding.  From now on, my mind is on code.

I’m going to trust that I too can be part of the alumni who go on to make $80K per year once they graduate.

It’s not going to be easy.  

Coding does take some time to get used to because you can go crazy thinking about it too much.  But once you get your brain to be fluid with it, you’re going places kid.

Your brain will be as fresh as when you first arrived on planet earf, nice and supple, ready for some learning.

In order to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be a programmer, take the following quiz on CodingDojo’s algorithm app and do each problem and challenge under 2 minutes.  Then get an 8 out of 8 on the assessment.

At first these problems are going to take you some time.  You’re going to be cursing and stuff.  The first try, I had one problem that took me 15 minutes.  But I stuck with it, ’cause I know my mind is undisciplined.

Your brain hates to think!  

Stick with it!  Some of these programming problems are so simple, it takes under 3 seconds to solve by now.  Other problems can be kinda confusing too, so you need to write stuff down.

Alright, once you done the algorithms, then sign up for an interview.

The interview process is simple.  They call you to ensure this is what you want and to ensure that you have the programming mind, a lot of people do not have the patience to be programmers.

But if you do want to be a programmer, this is the way to go.  I have a good feeling about this because they don’t allow you to fail.  Many bootcamps throw you out if you can’t hack it, but here I’m told they help you out and ensure you graduate.  Of course you gotta be willing to put in the time and effort as well.

They’re not going to hold your hand, this ain’t high school.  This is about making you a self sufficient coder.  This is about giving you the confidence and discipline you need to feel legit in your abilities as a coder.

Here’s something unique about this school.  They stress the fact that you’re going in not as a competitor, rather as a team member.

If you get stuck on a problem, take a break, come back and take 20 minutes more to solve it.  If you can’t solve it in 20 minutes, ask someone else.  If you and someone else cannot solve the problem within 20 minutes, then finally ask the TA.

I think that’s the point.  To discourage asking the teacher.  And to encourage you to discuss issues with students going through the same thing.

You can’t get comfortable with code asking the teacher all the time.  You have to ask other people or Google it.

Coding is all about being social and having sick teamwork skills. More importantly it is about getting that confidence as a programmer so when you’re hired you can contribute to the team right away.

They turned an Alaskan fisherman into a coder:

Alright.  Once I saw this video, I decided to pursue this path because I am trying my damnest to enter the software development field because I know how lucrative it is and I see these kids earning top money for something that seems kinda fun.

The internet and software development is all about creativity and harnessing your inner child.  This is why games like Call of Duty are so popular, they appeal to your little kid at heart.  That’s the reason why I’m going back the web.  Creativity and having fun are a must.

But seriously, can CodingDojo really make an Alaskan fisherman a coder?  I’m down to find out.  Better yet,

Can it make a full stack web developer out of a Navy veteran?

Alright.  Here’s a huge roadblock for many people.  And this is a huge reason why people cannot get ahead in life.

The investment is a steep one.  You pay $13500 for the education.

Sure many people shallowly think about the price and the time that it takes and right away blow it off thinking this isn’t for them.

If you look at the time it takes to get this, only 14 weeks, you might think this is really expensive and not worth your time.

Anyone can code

You rather take “programming” classes at the local community college.  Sure these help, but these are just the very tip of the iceberg.  You need a full blown internship.

The old system still says it’s the grade that’s gonna get you the job.  Sure going through college still works, but it takes so long and you waste a lot of time taking classes you don’t want to take.

CodingDojo basically speeds up the whole education system and gives you what you need to be successful.  Big time collaboration.  You put 30 bright minds hungry for knowledge and see what happens basically.

They don’t require you to take basketweaving or religion classes either.

Thank GOD!

But it is expensive.  It costs $13.5k in Seattle.  

But is it expensive?  Let’s analyze this for a second.  Going to CodingDojo is an investment.  An investment in yourself.

Again, alumns are making $80K per year and they can turn an Alaskan fisherman into a coder.  That’s all I have to say about whether going to CodingDojo is a good investment or not.  Every single argument ends with:

“alums are making $80K per year and they can turn an Alaskan fisherman into a coder. ”

Time commitment is another hindrance to this whole shebang.  They want you to be coding at least 50 hours a week.

They recommend you stopping work for 4 months of out the year.  So in many ways this is a lot like real military bootcamp because this thing requires a lot of discipline.

However, the biggest hurdle to this may be the fear that we all feel when putting down that much money.

I’m going to just believe that this is the way to go.  This is why so many coding bootcamps are propping up all over the country. They seem to work.  I’m all about believing in the process.  If you go into this all uncofident like questioning whether this is the way to go, you won’t be successful.

So just start believing and everything will work out.

My program starts on Monday and I can’t wait to get started.

The commute is going to be epic.

2 hours to get there, 2 hours to get back.  4 hours on the dangone bus.  I really hope the buses have wifi on them, though I think not. No big deal, I can still be very productive.  I can continue coding or listen to sick audiobooks like “Think and grow rich” or even sleep on the bus, anything is possible.

One huge thing that they keep stressing is spending a lot of time on the algorithm app.  They are going to test us the 2nd week so I better be prepared because I need to do this right.  That ain’t nothing see, I already got the time down to about 30 secs on most of them, though sometimes I can’t type fast enough.

Maybe I can design an app that will know what you’re thinking. Typing will be a thing of the past.  That way when you’re coding, you’re just thinking it, Cortana or Siri writes it for you.

At this point, I feel like I’m cheating on the algorithms because I already know the answer to most of these, but I go through them regardless.

It’s interesting why they would put a lot of emphasis on doing code fast.

Probably has to do with the fact that your mind is a muscle.  It needs to be exercised by doing these coding problems over and over and over.  Just like your buttocks or thigh muscle maybe?


You know what?  Even before the bootcamp begins, they’ve given me a lot to divulge and writing only helps to strengthen my resolve to get after this.

Something Michael Choi, Coding Dojo founder, stresses is making sure you:

Stay positive.

He says the students who do the best in the program are those who remain positive throughout the whole process.

Remaining positive, being self sufficient and having confidence in your abilities.

Sounds to me like we’re going to learn about our resiliency as well. Nice!

So I gotta catch the 592 to Seattle at 6:09 in the AM and then the 550 to get to Bellevue at 8:30.

I’m actually looking forward to the commute.  It gives you a lot of reading time and time to focus on your work.

Until monday, I’m going to keep preparing by reading and doing the algorithm app over and over until my mind is supple, like a baby’s bottom.


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