So you wanna go to software development bootcamp…

Front end or back end, let me be the first to offer both congratulations and condolences.

Surely, there has been no shortage to the good people who, for better or for worse, have informed you of how difficult your developer education will be. I will add to that. It will be difficult, and depending on where you attend, perhaps the most difficult educational experience you’ve experienced to date.

You will have days where you feel as if you’re a god. You will have days where you realize that, if indeed I am a god, then surely my domain is meager, and ultimately the property of a greater god who has thusly created me, and perhaps without much thought.

But how hard is it really?

I have just passed the halfway point in my Front End education at Turing School. It is as difficult as it is prestigious in the tech world — it’s one of the top, if not the top, schools to attend in 2020. It’s no exaggeration to say that 80 hour weeks while class is in session is the norm, at least for the mere mortals.

You will quickly make the pivot from finding time in your calendar to study, to finding time in your calendar to brush your teeth. Forget about hobbies, those aren’t things anymore. Get in your final goodbyes with your loved ones — tell them to send reasonably nutritious, microwavable food, and bottles of vitamin D.

But if you put in the work, if you look the hard thing in its face, the demands are as edifying to meet as they are rigorous to complete — the hard becomes fun. If you can imagine it, you can make it. Literally, any app, any interaction, you can make it, it’s a matter of figuring out how.

Buuuut starting out can make such wonderful feats seem pretty far off and pretty abstract. You’ve gotta put in your time, but that being said, there is joy to be had along the way. When things start clicking. When looking at a screen of code begins inducing less anxiety, or whatever emotional extension of imposter syndrome that’d normally arise. Where you see someone refactor your code into something that makes you exclaim, somewhat embarrassingly, whoa, nice! Where the magic of speaking a language that has no choice but to build as it’s spoken reveals itself— that’s the good stuff. And you’ll get that in week one.

And that’s where being in a cohort of equally-deteriorating peers is a huge boon (Turing is a cohort based learning program spanning four modules, or about 7 months). You can bounce ideas off of each other, share in your stoke and in your blahs, commiserate, late night whisky refactoring nights, late night refactoring of your late night whisky refactoring nights. Your mom, your gf/bf, they love you, but try as they might, there is no interest, or any vague idea of the details of what you're doing. My gf will never understand the joy of finally understanding that this is a functionally scoped keyword. Sorry babe, I love you, but IDGAF…and have you been gaining weight?

Whatever. And also yes.

Here’s the thing with programming. It’s beautiful. And I’m not trying to be dramatic. It’s attainable and consistently challenging, and it scales with your learning. It will take any and all of the hard work you give it and reward you in kind. It will take your laziness and haunt you. It will hack your brain into thinking with logic, breaking down not only code, but human behavior, climbing, cooking, sex, exercise, the way dogs behave, the weather, the cosmos, the nature of reality — all into their constituent parts. It will leave you asking more questions about life than you realized you had, and betroth you the tools with which to explore those questions. And we can all use another tool to scratch that universally persistent ontological itch.

Maybe that’s a bit grandiose, a bit naive, but I’m sure a fair bit accurate.

Next time I plan to dive a bit more into why one might elect to choose a directed course at a place like Turing rather than self-directed course. Or maybe something else altogether.