Old Dog, New Tricks

Today during my class office hours, there were several people asking about ageism in tech. Apparently there’s a lot of us who are over 40 in this cohort.

Honestly, I’m less concerned about the ageism in tech as I am about how well I can learn and retain things at my age. When I was 20-something, I could stay up all night partying with friends and head out to work with 2 hours sleep to do a full day’s work. I rebounded quicker from things and had so much more energy. I seemed to grasp new things more quickly. As a more “mature” student, I have the benefit of real-world experience. I can draw on that to make connections to things and to realize what things are not really important. A younger student will ask a million “what if” questions in a class whilst someone like me understands you won’t be prepared for every situation before it happens. Don’t stress about that kind of stuff.

I do wish I had come to learning to code earlier in my life, but things happen the way they are supposed to, so I don’t overthink that point. I have far more tenacity about things I want now than I did when I was younger. As I make choices, I understand sacrifices and commitment to make them happen. My younger self was often pulled off course because I either couldn’t make up my mind about things or I was easily led astray. I know this is my path and I am so pleased that I’m where I am right now.

Learning How To Learn

As part of my bootcamp homework, I’m taking a Coursera course called “Learning How to Learn.” Seems strange, as I’ve been taking coursework for my entire adult life. But it’s an interesting course that tell us most traditional methods of learning are not effective. Highlighting? Nope. Funny, I remember going through my Anatomy & Physiology book in nursing school highlighting constantly. The neon orange made the pages positively glow. Everyone in my class did that. Note taking? Nope. Unless you do something with the notes besides just re-reading them, they’re useless.

The one thing it does talk about that I KNOW works is flashcards. If not for flashcards I never would’ve made it through nursing school. Particularly A&P. We had to memorize all the bones in the human body, as well as all the muscles, plus all the veins and arteries. It was also the only way I remembered all the hormones produced by which parts of the body. Not that I remember any of that now, but I was able to pass all of those exams thanks to flashcards.

So now I’m downloading Anki to create virtual flashcards for programming. I’m trying it based on advice from the instructor and other students. But I’m very tempted to go old-school and just use index cards. I’ll have to see what works best.

I also need to set up a schedule. Things are kind of fluid right now since I don’t start my new job for another week. But once I do, time will be tighter, and I will definitely need to carve out a routine. Spaced repetition is supposedly the best way to commit things to memory, so I need to get into good study habits now, so I have these basics memorized for future use.

Day #4

Yesterday I finally set up the blog online and posted the first entry that I had written earlier this week. My goal is to write an entry every day. Last night during the bootcamp, Leon told us to tell someone in our lives about our commitment to learning to code and becoming a full stack developer. This will help keep us accountable. Then he said we needed to tell everyone. He told us to go onto our social media and announce that we were software engineers focusing on front end developing. I hesitated. Not sure why, but it felt scary. Instead, I replied to someone else’s tweet from the class who announced it, saying I was on the same journey. It felt like a cop out, but something was holding me back.

Today, a high-profile developer influencer started a thread asking people who did not have a lot of followers to post a photo of themselves and announce something interesting about them or to post a goal. I saw that post this morning but did not post. Until tonight. I finally got the courage up and posted a photo with a description of myself as a former nurse transitioning into tech, documenting my journey as a “mature” person making the jump. I was still nervous about it, but I think it’s steps like that which I need to do. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, but it also puts it out there to the universe that I am a software developer. I’m ready to start making the changes I need to see this through.

Day #3 Post

Tonight, is day #2 of my bootcamp. I believe we are delving into HTML. I’m excited, but don’t think I’m going to learn too much new stuff. I have already played around with HTML quite a bit, so I already understand the basics. Since the bootcamp is geared towards beginners, there’s probably going to be a lot that I’ve already done myself. However, I am no expert so going over the basics will be good for me.

I’m noticing some participants on Twitter and Discord trying to form groups to interact with, and I’m a bit hesitant to join in. I think part of my resistance is because I’m an introvert, but also because I don’t want to get distracted from the course itself or the work I need to do. I’d love to make connections and friends in this course, but that is not my primary target. I think I’ll wait to see who’s still around in a couple of weeks and who’s really committed to the process before worrying about social interactions. The Twitch stream had over 7,000 people on it at one point Tuesday. I know we’ll see significant drop-off soon, so I’m going to wait and see how the numbers shake out.

I received notification yesterday that I passed my background check for my new job. I also got a note from my new boss that my computer has shipped out and should be arriving Saturday. I’m going to have to rearrange my office to have a workstation separate from my personal computer again. I’m also thinking I’m going to set up a whiteboard or calendar for organizing a schedule of to-do tasks each week. This coming week is my last week of freedom before starting the job, so I’m wanting to use the time wisely. I have been reading/watching the videos for the bootcamp homework about smart studying tips. It’ll be interesting to see how useful it is over the next few months.