Whoops. Forgot to post again!

Damn, I guess I was so busy with my shiny new job, I forgot to post.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve been employed for a whole month now! I got my official job offer just about two weeks after finishing MakerSquare. Pretty cool, huh?

I do front-end development at an interactive agency here in Austin. Translation: I do a lot of Javascript and CSS stuff to build custom web experiences for our clients. It’s pretty cool. I like the people I work with (most notably @wayspurrchen, who spends a lot of time helping me get up to speed), and the work is challenging in a good way.

That said, when I say “challenging,” I’m not joking around. It’s a PHP shop. As you may recall, at @MakerSquare, I learned Ruby/Rails, not PHP/Laravel. Laravel is an MVC framework, like Rails. I can figure out reasonably accurately where things go or are supposed to go within that, but PHP and Ruby are syntactically different enough that it has taken me this whole month to get to a point where I was able to debug something I had screwed up in a controller today.

The only real bummer about working in a PHP shop is that I have less time to keep practicing Rails. At the moment, I have no time. Between acclimating to a new job and the holiday rush (throw an extra “holiday” in there, too–my birthday is mid-December, and I firmly believe that throwing anything less than a 3-day celebration for one’s birthday = doing it wrong), any downtime I get at all is pretty much spent sleeping.

Things should get better on that front after tonight. With no more holidays/birthday stuff to worry about for a while, and with more of my #mks2 homies accepting job offers every week, there should be time again to work with Rails in my off-time. My pet project is stalled at the moment, because the one thing I really need from Facebook to have an MVP (graph search for events) isn’t something their API supports (yet?) and I don’t want to violate their TOS, but I’m excited for some collaborations on other people’s upcoming projects that I’ve been offered. Bonus: I won’t have to be my own project manager!

Lest I come off whiny, let me be clear here: my life is awesome right now. The majority of my time is spent getting paid to do something I enjoy, in an environment where I’m encouraged to learn. I’m mentoring two awesome chicks (@JesseDowntown from #mks3, and one of my oldest friends back in Jersey via Skype) in their coding journeys. I had a great birthday, and these hectic life circumstances have led me to place a priority on getting enough rest (and in doing so, I’m winning the battle better than ever against a lifelong circadian rhythm disorder). 2013 has been kickass, and 2014 is looking even better!

Week 1 of MakerSquare

MakerSquare. The big game-changer for my life. The reason I made this blog. It was taking up most of my time all summer even without having started yet. I completed tracks on Codecademy, started others that I only got partway through, completed classes on Codeschool, read bits of documentation and so many blog posts about different concepts, worked through a few more tutorials, and then spent most of the last week before Labor Day reviewing as much Ruby as I could on Rubymonk.

I am now here to tell you that no amount of preparation is really enough.

Since my cohort had all of the aforementioned prework (the first cohort apparently didn’t), the MakerSquare team was able to start us off “easy,” but still with more advanced concepts than the first group had in their first week of class. Of course, “easy” is a funny word. People were struggling on different concepts every day, and I know that at least a couple of us (myself included) were (not figuratively) near tears on Friday as we worked on the projects meant to evaluate how far we had come this first week.

That said, if I had any doubts about how much I was learning, I can look back to last night. I was showing off my projects to a friend, joking about how it took me all day to create the 100 or so lines of (still incomplete but) working code, and my friend pointed out that I had just explained to him exactly what every bit of it did in such a way that he completely understood it. That was pretty cool.

Also pretty cool: Harsh (one of the instructors) came by at the start of my first solo HTML/CSS project to give me some help. A while later, I called him over to have him check the finished product, and the first thing he said when he looked at it was “wow, that was fast.” He didn’t make a big deal, it was a very casual statement; but that casual tone made me feel better about my work and grasp of the ideas than a big deal would have.

I am pooped, to say the least. Part of this is that I am, by nature, a night owl (take note that this is the most extraordinary of understatements), and starting last weekend, I’ve been waking up at 6am. On Tuesday, my cohort and I arrived an hour early for the “breakfast/meet and greet” before class, and since then, I’ve been getting on the bus at 8am to be at class before 9am. Except for Thursday, when I stayed late to push myself through a project and understand a bit more about class instances, I get out of class at 6pm. I’m in bed most nights by 10pm, 11 at the latest.

No matter how tired I am (my body is starting to adjust to the new schedule; I don’t hurt so much in the morning anymore and my skin is calming down), and how frustrated I get (that 100 lines of Ruby code from yesterday still needs (what feels like) a few hundred more for the project to be complete, but I think I can do it faster now), I need to stress that I am loving this. The team at MakerSquare really knows what they’re doing, and just as importantly, they really know how to teach it. There have been a couple of curriculum hiccups (as the second cohort, we’re still guinea pigs for a curriculum that will always be evolving), but the team’s response times on adjusting to the level of the class are nothing short of amazing. If my teachers in school had always been this good, my life would be a very different place. Of course, I’m now happy they weren’t, because my life led me instead to a place where I get to do MakerSquare. 😉