A few months ago Sam urged me to sign me up for a class on Ruby on Rails that promised to help newbies like myself learn to program web apps. It’s a class offered through webschoolcincy.com, and I have to admit that while I was excited, I was also a bit hesitant. First of all, the course follows the curriculum of Stanford’s Computer Science 142 course, which requires a new book practically every week and forces us to sit through a series of, well, to be completely honest, very dry lectures. (Apologies to the professor.) Second of all, I learned in the first class that out of 25 students, only one other guy and I were the true newbies. Everyone else had a background in programming and was trying to pick up a new language. There was no way I could compete…. Or so I thought.
I’m proud to say that after 7 weeks of instruction, our group of 25 has dwindled to a steadfast six. The other new guy and I are still hanging in there, and I am the only female left out of the three who started. When I’m not ripping my hair out wondering why the hell I’m getting an error in my code, I want to beat my chest with a womanly roar because I am living up to my R-MWC* roots by being a badass chick.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am hanging on by my fingernails trying to keep up. In fact I’ve recently ditched the prescribed list of projects and am following along with the examples of Agile Web Development with Rails, 4th ed., thus putting into perspective all the lingo and conventions that I was trying to cram into my head each Saturday with CS142.
To be brutally honest, for the first few weeks Sam had to convince me to go back because I’d be gasping for breath each Friday as I tackled the week’s project and had a list of probably petulant questions for the instructors the following day. But the gurus at Gaslight have never made me feel inferior and have actually been encouraging as I make the course my own. It doesn’t matter how I learn, what matters is that I show up to learn. My new colleagues and I, though all on different paces, and perhaps with different end goals, are all in a community of learning, something that in and of itself is exhilarating.
Take J. and M. , two skilled programmers who are picking up a language to add to their already impressive resumes in the hopes of landing the next sweet gig. And K., the other newbie, a designer at heart who wants more control over his beautiful work. As for me? Am I the next great developer? Who knows…but I do know that I’m rising to a challenge, perhaps one of my greatest in many years, as I expand the breadth of my knowledge. I’m not one of those writers who can quote Shakespeare on a whim, but give me something to create and I’m right there on point.
Every writer has their weakness, and lately mine is the closing line. Perhaps that’s because there is no closing for me just yet…only openings.
I love you all, some more than others.
*By the way, I’m still pissed that I can’t link to my alma mater because it doesn’t exist anymore. Dirty rat bastards.