JULY 11, 2020

I just began, and finished my first week of (where does the time go?!), the part-time software engineering boot camp with Flatiron school. You may be thinking to yourself, “Didn’t see that coming!”

Yeah, me neither.

But here I am!

Let’s go back a bit.

I was chatting with a friend about some long-term goals. We were fantasizing about the future and what it could hold, and let me just say, I set lofty goals. Sure, I have goals like, floss my teeth more, exercise at least three times a week, things like that. But when I dream, I dream big. And then I think a lot about those big dreams. And I wonder how it could be possible to make them a reality.

One of the biggest things I brought up with my friend (and bring up often) is work. I’ve never been one to be driven by the idea of a career. I learn things I’m interested in, and I add those skills to my repertoire. I’m slowly just letting myself be ok with the pretty much undeniable fact that I’m a freelancer.

“Ok, Jill. That’s great. How does software engineering fit into this?”

Great question! Let me just say, I never thought anything in the computer science world would be within my grasp. I like the idea of it all! I think the logic, and puzzle-solving, and the amazing things technology can do are all great. But I never thought I would seek out learning more about it.

But as I chatted about work and trying to find work that will pay me more, as I’ve finally gotten to a point in my life where I believe my skills and work ethic are worth more, she told me the story of how a friend recommended software engineering to her. And how she did a boot camp, and now has a job she’s very happy with (even during COVID), that pays her very well.

That was last year, and I thought about it, but kind of brushed it off. I didn’t think I wanted to go back to “school”. Never liked it. I studied theatre in college, which isn’t exactly your standard curriculum.

But then I hit a wall. I took a gig for some extra cash, and I took another part-time job, and I was making decent money. But I was really only happy with one of my jobs, and it was the one I spent the least of my time doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people I was working with, but the work was either completely unfulfilling and didn’t show any signs of growth, or just drove me completely mad.

One afternoon I was sitting in an airport waiting to go home. I was exhausted. I still had work to do (that I really didn’t want to do), and I was having one of those, “What am I doing with my life?!” existential crises. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

So I texted my friend, and I asked her how she started coding. I didn’t want to put a bunch of money into a boot camp and then halfway through, realize I really hated everything about it and then wash, rinse, repeat the existential crisis. She gave me a few free and cheap options, and I started practicing. And I enjoyed it! It was like a fun puzzle. And you can get creative. So I kept doing it, and I got pretty far through a little web developer class bundle I bought for $12 on Udemy.

But I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep on the self-taught track. I wanted stricter deadlines, and I couldn’t believe I was saying it, but I wanted that “school” format. Honestly, I just wanted an accountability buddy. And I knew having a curriculum that I paid for would light the fire under my butt and get me on a track to crushing some goals.

So I searched for some schools, and I took this fun little online quiz to match me to a few boot camps. Flatiron was top of the list.

So I go to the website, and I read it through about a million times, and go back in forth in my mind for days on whether or not I should just go for it and apply. I watch a webinar, knowing full well that’s the first big “sales pitch”. I read reviews, I looked at what graduates had to say, I asked friends if they had heard of it. I did a lot of research, and realized, I was wasting my time. My gut said this was a good idea. I just needed to push go.

So I applied. I wrote one badass application, had a great admissions interview, and got admitted to a school with a very low admittance rate AND got a scholarship toward tuition. I felt like I was on top of the world. And I went to sleep that night thinking about my long-term goals and feeling like they weren’t so far away.

Do I think I’ll be a career software engineer? Absolutely not! I’ll reiterate that I’m not really a career person. Do I think I can finish this boot camp and take a decent job that pays well and has health insurance (what even is that like?). Sure! That’s all great, but I have bigger goals than that. It’s more than a new skill, and a new swanky job (hopefully).

It’s about supporting my family. My partner is amazing, but I always look at him and say, “Sugar mama’s workin’ on it!” Does he need a sugar mama? Fuck no. He’s quite capable of supporting (and has been supporting) his family. But I’m not going to lie, I’m the kind of person who wants to take care of her people. I do a lot for my tribe, and I do already take good care of my people, but I’m not the breadwinner. But I think I can be, and honestly, I want to be. I want to be the provider.

It’s about saving up for a downpayment on my first home. Which I’ll be purchasing by the time I’m 30, the end (how’s that for a goal?). A home we can all live in, with some property where I can garden (a newfound hobby of mine!), and have some chickens, maybe goats, a shop for my partner to do all his work, and a little room just for me where I can keep my books and my journals. Ya know, nothing fancy (I told you I dream big, I don’t fuck around.)

It’s about having the skills to develop new and amazing technology. I want to take the ideas I have for a business and start making them a reality.

It’s about continuing to learn and grow, and not being afraid to say yes.

I’ve finished the first week of this program, and while I’ve already had a couple of moments of, “What have I gotten myself into?” (to be expected), I’m excited to see where this takes me and to keep going.

Look out goals, you’re about to get crushed.

Boldly go,

Jillian