On being new

22 July 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of having lunch at Table XI and taking part in their round table talk for the day, where I gave a Pecha Kucha presentation on what it meant for me to experience being new.

Dev Bootcamp offers an optional phase 4, where students stay around for an extra 3 weeks and offer 10 hours of TA work in exchange for additional training on a Javascript framework. They also get help searching for jobs and everything that comes with job hunting. I opted not to do phase 4 through Dev Bootcamp and am instead doing my own personal phase 4.

A lot of people have asked me why I’m not doing phase 4. When presented with the opportunity to learn for 3 more weeks and know more than I do now, I jumped at the opportunity. But the more I thought aboutwhy I was doing phase 4, the more I realized that I shouldn’t.

I wasn’t so excited about doing phase 4 because I wanted to learn more. I was excited to do phase 4 because I was terrified of leaving Dev Bootcamp and being on my own. While I’m not on my own because I still have mentors and the Ruby community, I am significantly more alone than I have been in the last 9 weeks. I was using phase 4 as a crutch, as a way to avoid coming to terms with the gaps in my knowledge. I was scared that I would realize how little I knew, that I would find myself unprepared for an apprentice- or junior-level developer position.

The end result of all this pondering and thinking was thatI couldn’t do phase 4 just because I was scared of learning on my own. I had to opt out of phase 4 and face my fears. It was preciselybecause I was scared of not doing it that I had to do it.

So here I am, sitting on my couch, reading a book about RSpec for Rails, snacking on some fruit, and hammering away at the keyboard writing tests for my knitting pattern generator. I’m editing my resume, tinkering with my website, and relaxing with my pup. It’s not so scary after all. It’s a little weird being alone after spending 12-15 hours a day with the same 20 or so people, but I’m enjoying busting some dance moves in my living room.

It has been awhile since I’ve feltnew. I wasn’t new at my last job for a long time. Therewasn’t much about my position that Ididn’t know or understand. Before that, I was a nanny and a grad student. Being new is foreign to me now.

I was trying to describe the sensation of being new to programming to someone, and the best analogy I could come up with was that it felt like I was being shot out of a cannon. Being propelled through the sky, soaring so fast and seeing things from a completely unique perspective. Trying to take everything in, but being so overwhelmed by my surroundings that I feel like I’m missing things.

I know that my cannon-like existence won’t last for long. I’ll find a job soon-ish, and I’ll get comfortable with being new. I will continue to learn and teach everyday. But until then, I’m in my little cannon, propelling through the sky. Zoooooom!