WTActualF Am I Doing?

“I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared!”

Welcome to Here Codes Nothing! My name is Ben Parisot and I am a former producer who recently quit his job at an experiential marketing agency to attend coding school and start a new career as a software engineer. I have a bit of a background in programming — I’ve dabbled in HTML and CSS and took an Intro to Programming night class two years ago — but in no way would I consider myself a developer. For the next six months I’ll be attending Alchemy Code Lab in downtown Portland, OR, and writing weekly blog posts chronicling my experiences there. I will share completed projects, works-in-progress, photos, and some honest takes on my successes and failures.

Ben Parisot | Here Codes Nothing | Pingpong Website Example
A silly counting website I made in my Intro to Programming class two years ago. When a visitor “sacrificed” a number to the ravenous internet god Pingpong, Pingpong would count up to that number and eat (or strikethrough) all numbers divisible by 3, 5, and 15.

I’ll admit it — this story isn’t a new one. Plenty of people have given up good management jobs to go to coding school and become developers. It’s not the uniqueness of my story that makes it notable. Instead, it’s the familiarity of it all that I think makes it so compelling. Despite people making these life-changing decisions fairly often, it’s rare to see someone’s journey documented end-to-end. I struggled with this decision for months, wondering if I was making a mistake or if I was being overly ambitious or optimistic. If I had someone else’s story to learn from, my decision-making process might have been easier. I doubt the outcome would have been different (I was pretty set on becoming a full-time developer), but there might have been fewer sleepless nights, and I’d almost certainly be heading into class this week with a better idea of what I was getting into.

After reviewing an early draft of this post, my husband noted that it “didn’t have enough dogs”, so here’s a random picture of our two goodbois, Hank and Joe.

So, why am I starting this blog series? There are three main reasons:

  1. To create content featuring my work to put on social media and attract potential employers.
    Let’s be real — I’m hoping to get a job as soon after I graduate as I can. Coming from a marketing background, I understand the importance of investing in a brand early and getting that brand in front of the right people as soon as possible. I hope this blog series will allow me to share my progress and completed projects with potential employers and other developers to garner early attention and get helpful feedback on my work.
  2. To document my learnings as a reference for myself in case I face a particular dev challenge in the future.
    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my previous attempts at coding, it’s that understanding a concept and executing on it once does not guarantee that concept will stick around in your brain for long. And while there are plenty of invaluable online resources for struggling developers, I’m hoping this blog will act as a repository of the most common challenges I’ve faced and the solutions that I know have already worked well for me. Treating this blog as a dev diary will allow me to more easily find and reuse working code without having to slog through a bunch of different repos on Github.
  3. To inspire others to push themselves out of their comfort zones and try something new and worthwhile.
    As I suggested earlier, I hope this blog encourages others to pursue a new path for themselves, despite how daunting or unfamiliar it may be. It’s a scary move for sure, but I hope that others considering a similar decision can follow along with my journey and get a better insight into what it takes and whether this is the right decision for them.

This is what the course breakdown looks like:

  • Week 1: Pre-work and getting ready for classes to begin
  • Week 2: Evening bootcamp prep classes
  • Weeks 3 – 6: Bootcamp 1 (dev fundamentals)
  • Weeks 7 – 10: Bootcamp 2 (intermediate dev)
  • Weeks 11 – 23: Career track (full-stack javascript)

Now, I’m not entirely new to programming. I’m familiar enough with HTML and CSS to reskin WordPress templates to a degree and have tinkered with enough JavaScript to understand the basics of object-oriented programming. I’m good with most any CMS and spent the past year learning generative design in TouchDesigner and basic projection mapping. So I should be fine, right? RIGHT?!?

Here’s an example of some of my work in TouchDesigner. This video was made as part of a projection installation at a dance party for Portland Pride 2018.

To be honest, I don’t really know what this project will evolve into. My aim is to publish one post a week and use that post to discuss what I learned the previous week. This could include everything from code snippets to full working applications, links to code repositories or articles I found interesting, or photos and videos from my time in class. I hope to make each post informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Fingers crossed!

Since this is the first post in this series I obviously don’t have a lot to show you. You can check out my old Intro coding projects here and my Touchdesigner work here. You can also see more photos of my dogs and some bad memes on my Instagram here.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my inaugural post! I hope to see you back next week. Until then, here codes nothing!

Feature Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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