A new challenge: Learning to code

My first four weeks on the _nology Software Development course and the progress I have made during this short period of time.

Written by Nology Team - 15.06.20

I treasure the many valuable learning experiences I’ve had so far on the course, but most importantly I’ve gained tremendous confidence by being faced with what seemed impossible, but still succeeding.

Four weeks ago I jumped into a complete career change and started an intensive coding course. I was thrilled and excited to begin a journey of learning something I’d never done before and knew very little about, but at the same time is around me every day, behind every mobile and computer screen I look at.

Despite my initial enthusiasm, I quickly found myself thrown in deep water and struggling to swim.  New concepts, coding languages, strange and precise syntaxes were being thrown at me left, right and centre. Talking of centre, don’t even get me started on the subject of American spelling rule domination in tech. A lifetime of clinging onto the British form of the English language has been swept away by my computer’s stark refusal to accept any other spelling than ‘center’ or ‘color’ when I code.

Three weeks in, after a particularly hefty week of javascript introduction, I was starting to wonder if I would make it.  My stubborn streak that I have been cursed with since childhood –  sorry, I meant to say “my innate resilience” – refused to allow me to give up and I plodded on.

At the beginning of week four, we were presented with the seemingly momentous task of individually building our own web browser game using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  It looked like quite a mountain to go up, but with great encouragement from the coaches, I started to climb.  I began with a simple title, text box and submit button.  Gradually I added more features, involving painstaking hours of experimentation, tweaking and of course the inevitable googling of “how to’s”. 

I was surprised to discover that I was genuinely enjoying the process.  I loved being able to break down the problem into small achievable steps and to celebrate each small progress point.  I experienced an eureka moment as I managed to achieve my MVP (minimum viable product), which was simply a page where the user could input their answer to a question and my code would detect if the answer was right or wrong and offer feedback in the form of a simple ‘Correct!’ or ‘Incorrect!’ showing up on the screen. It was a satisfying moment. 

I continued building; adding colours, pictures and basic design and four days after the assignment was set, I was ready to present it to six of my colleagues, nology coach Shea Murphy, as well as the CTO of a leading energy switching company Tim Genge, who kindly dropped into our course for a couple of hours to share his experience and offer some feedback to us.  

The game isn’t a perfectly finished product, but for me, it is a remarkable sign of the progress possible in just four short weeks of an intensive coding course and that’s what counts. I treasure the many valuable learning experiences I’ve had along the way, but most importantly I’ve gained tremendous confidence by being faced with what seemed impossible, but still succeeding.

If you’re interested to see what my game looked like by the end of the week, check out this link: mairead-hannah.github.io/country-name-game

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