LaunchCoder Q & A with Louis

How did you hear about LaunchCode?

I saw a large poster in a window inside a St. Louis mall. After looking into LaunchCode.org, I found out more and went to the intro lecture given by Chris and a recent graduate who was interviewing for a job. Then I filled out the application process and was accepted.

What is your background like?

I am a 34-year-old seasoned worker in the field of social work. I have been involved in humanitarian projects to get addicts off of drugs, help people resolve issues in their everyday lives and provide relief and solutions to those with relationship problems. Having had no college and only a high school education, I learned things through books and watching others.

Three years ago I moved to St. Louis, planning to start a family by getting a stable job and settling down. I work 40 hours a week, earning enough to support myself but not enough to provide in abundance. The need to have a final career forced me to expand my view of possible jobs, but first I needed to find out what other fields I enjoyed besides social work. Having recognized my ability to learn and love for images, patterns, prediction, safety, protection and security, I delved into the field of computer science. By pure luck or magic of some kind I stumbled upon LaunchCode and there it began.

Having different teaching methods for the same information provided a clearer and more solid understanding of how coding worked.

How did the reality of class differ from your expectations?

It differed widely, but I had never gone to college so my perspective is possibly different from others. I found that having different teaching methods for the same information provided a clearer and more solid understanding of how coding worked. For example, studying the online version, then coming to class and hearing a lecturer talk about the material, then being able to ask my group’s Teaching Fellow questions made the components of coding real and usable. LaunchCode provided a disentanglement of what I thought was how to learn coding as opposed to my preconceived idea of how class was going to work based on my own misunderstandings of coding.

At first, it took hours to understand something, now it only takes me a few minutes or seconds to see how a tool fits in.

Tell us about a highlight or two from class.

A solid tool I found in solving coding related problems is the accumulating pattern. I came to class having studied the Python For Loop on how a computer adds one thing to another to another, but I did not understand HOW the computer was doing that based on ten or so words of code. Having a real person explain something versus reading about it on various pages (of which could be in different computer languages, using even the same language but different words or symbols, etc.) was incredibly helpful. I had this experience for every tool in Python, JQuery, Ajax, Data Store, JavaScript, etc. but with shorter lengths of time to grasp each concept and be able to use it. At first, it took hours to understand something, now it only takes me a few minutes or seconds to see how a tool fits in.

I was thinking about not pursuing coding at one point towards the end of the second unit, and just studying it as a hobby. I voiced this to my group TF JooHee and she said that I showed an aptitude for this. Hearing that from her as well as clearing up how a blog entry was formed spring-boarded me into thinking about coding as a real career instead of just a possibility.

I can think of two other people who helped explain coding to me; one was Jeff, creator of the Noobler, who explained what a Class is in relation to a Python coding for a website. Another showed me how to use the Logs in the Google App Engine which I had no idea existed. That is a key in learning — if you do not speak up or ask questions then you will never find out about other tools, programs or easier ways of getting the results that you want.

I would have questions set up in my mind or written out for JooHee for every class and I knew she was capable of reading the docs or getting an answer or knowing the answer. Overall, the positive attitudes of the TFs, Chris, Sally and Jesse were very encouraging. Jesse was very laid back, calm and seemed to know his tech.

What are your plans after class?

I plan to take Udemy and other tutorials to fully master them after having found so many new tools that I haven’t yet mastered. I have signed up for courses in JavaScript (my favorite including all of its components e.g. JQuery, AJAX, Node.js, etc.), CSS, Bootstrap, Github, Swift, and one on cyber security. I want to do 20 or 30 projects in addition to creating apps on Apple, Google and Amazon. Three of my family members have terribly old websites — they look like something made in the 90’s if you can believe that — so I plan to revamp their websites.

What type of tech job are you interested in?

I’d like to work on anything front-end. There are so, so many unresponsive websites out there that I can’t believe it! I’d like to improve website experience and thus improve sales of products and  services. I want to make every website or app as great as the CSS and dynamic usability that top companies have — like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It honestly would not even take a long time to do it, maybe a few days for one website, but the upkeep service using analytics on how users respond would be an ongoing endeavor.

What would be your advice for someone considering signing up for LaunchCode’s next class cohort?

If you don’t owe it to yourself to pick up your bootstraps and get through these classes, then find someone whom you do owe it to and work with that purpose in mind to get through it successfully.

Try this exercise: Walk around your house, block and areas where you commute to observe all of the objects and people that use and/or depend on technology to survive. Decide if you can raise your interest in one of these areas enough to support your own survival. You will get overwhelmed by not being able to solve problem(s) — recognize that this is a problem in itself and come up with solutions ahead of time for how to deal with it. One solution for me was to put down the computer and do something else until I felt relaxed and resolved enough to solve the coding problem at hand. Also, make a list or just know all the tools/services you have at your disposal to get over humps and barriers — e.g. Piazza, Slack direct messaging to your TF, Slack posts, YouTube videos, Google, Lecturer, LaunchCode Admin, etc. Get familiar with these and don’t let embarrassment get in the way of communication. Get over your embarrassment or fear of talking, asking questions and looking stupid or sounding stupid when asking them — otherwise how will you become more intelligent?!

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