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The Boot Camp Diaries Week 12: Gratitude

Where do I start? My coding boot camp experience at LEARN Academy has officially come to an end. Graduation is tomorrow. Logically I know it’s the start of a whole new journey moving further into the tech space, and yet I can’t help but feel like I’ll return to my old life and everything I’ve gone through in the last three months will feel like a dream.

Rather than dwell on the end of an era or agonize over what the future may hold, I’d like to thank the village it took to raise this fledgling developer. I know sappy outpourings of gratitude probably don’t top your list of reasons for reading this blog (frankly, if you have a list at all I’m flattered), but I hope you’ll stick with this post because reading about a bunch of amazing people being awesome may give you faith in humanity, which I feel we all could use these days.

Chelsea – Obviously I need to start with LEARN Academy’s co-founder and CEO, Chelsea Kaufman. Once upon a Girls in Tech event, I mentioned I was interested in attending LEARN and would reach out to Chelsea about it. She gave me her card, I chickened out, and that could’ve been the end. Except it wasn’t the end, because Chelsea came to me and not only asked if I was interested, but asked what was holding me back and how she could clear the path for me. Without her unwavering commitment to making this program possible for me in my unique situation, I would absolutely still be on the outside of the tech space too unsure of myself even to look in. Chelsea opened a secret rotating door where I had only seen a bookcase, and honestly I don’t think there will ever be words to adequately describe how grateful I am. Chelsea, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for working a miracle for me.

Chris – My boss is an incredible human being. I remember trembling when I told him about the possibility of doing this program while still working, both because I was so excited by the prospect and so nervous to even suggest something so crazy. Instead of laughing me out of the building, he stayed calm, asked thoughtful questions, and kept an open mind. Most of all, he trusted me to make this work. He gave me both the freedom and the security I needed to follow my dreams, and I honestly just wish everyone who reads this post could work for him because it’s been and continues to be a fantastic experience. Chris, thank you so much for putting your faith in me, believing me when I told you I was capable, allowing me the opportunity to prove myself, and encouraging me to go after what you know I really want.

Instructors – I was incredibly fortunate to have patient, knowledgeable, compassionate instructors at LEARN. Sarah, Damon, Jez, and Matt – thank you guys for your dedication to teaching our cohort, providing comfort and encouragement when needed, and offering unwavering support during our time of extreme vulnerability and rapid growth. In particular:
Sarah: Thank you for always assuring me my questions weren’t stupid, for taking the time to explain things multiple ways, and holding my hand with JavaScript objects. That car exercise was a doozy!
Damon: Thank you for fielding question after question, and for being so encouraging and uplifting during our one-on-one. Also, thank you for reframing the car exercise into something my brain could actually absorb.
Jez: Thank you for holding my hand through Ruby on Rails, and for patiently helping me unravel and resolve every multi-file mess I made. Also, thank you for taking a picture of me in my interview outfit so I could send it to my mom! I know that was an odd request, but she was very grateful.
Matt: Where do I even start? Thank you for walking me, step by step, through every single file in Cat Tinder after class. Thank you for staying late ON YOUR BIRTHDAY to help me, and not making me feel silly or embarrassed for crying. Thank you for helping me with RSpec factories during my internship. Thank you for always telling me I could, even when I had convinced myself I couldn’t. Thank you for always being the most patient and good-natured human being to ever grace this planet. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without you!
Bella: Thank you for coming to class with Matt and lifting our spirits. Thank you for sensing my desperate need for an animal’s comforting affection and wandering over to flop at my feet and accept belly rubs. You are the loveliest of canine companions!

Staff – A HUGE shoutout to the amazing staff members at LEARN, each of whom plays an integral part in shaping the coding boot camp experience and maintaining the safe space that is LEARN. In particular:
Hillary: Thank you for welcoming me into LEARN’s loving embrace and making registration a breeze. Your calm and cheerful presence was always very comforting.
Bryan: Thank you for your wise counsel during professional development week and beyond. I am certain that a more knowledgeable and understanding career services manager does not exist.
TJ: Thank you for organizing and MCing amazing events at LEARN and for always making me feel welcome. Also, thank you for letting me use your smiling face in my Insta stories for Demo Night!

Members of my cohort – You guys are the freakin’ best, you know that? I was blessed with the greatest cohort to ever grace the halls of LEARN, and I’m so grateful to have met and learned and worked with every single one of you. Thank you for your kind words, patient explanations, lunchtime outings, safe space to vent, and full-body-shaking laughter. I wish we could all end up working together someday, but until then, we’ll always have Slack.

Adam – When Adam and Emma came to visit our LEARN cohort and give a talk about their company, one of my classmates asked how you know when you’re a mid-level dev, or a senior dev. Is it a matter of time? Experience? Guts? Thanks to Adam, we learned it basically doesn’t matter. He had us close our eyes and rate ourselves as people. Not good or bad people, just 1-10 on the person scale, interpret that how you wish. My eyes were closed, but apparently there were people in every category from 1 to 10, and yet we were all in the same class and learning the same things alongside each other. I still fell into the trap of comparing myself to others from time to time, but Adam’s talk helped. So Adam, thank you for that talk. And for making me feel comfortable during my internship interview. Also, thank you for a challenging, enlightening, and fun internship experience. Turning Zeal’s website into a Friday masterpiece gave me life.

Girls in Tech – I am so privileged to work with this incredible group of empowered women empowering women. It’s a really great feeling knowing that ladies you love and respect have your back and are cheering you on. We’ve been through many changes and transitions together, and each one has made us stronger and more capable as a advisory board and an organization. You ladies are ridiculously inspirational, thank you for pushing me to be and do my best! In particular:
April: If you and Chelsea hadn’t conspired to get me into LEARN and on the path to truly embracing my tech goals, I don’t know where I would be. Certainly not in the exciting position of standing on the precipice of a new adventure, equipped with more technical skills and confidence than I would’ve thought I’d have in a decade. Seriously, thank you for making this my life. Thank you for teaching me to stop convincing myself my dreams are unattainable, and encouraging me to go for it. Also, thank you for responding right away to every Slack message I’ve ever sent, talking me through the closure of my former company and terrifying sudden joblessness, giving me pep talks over Thai food, protecting me from dangerous wildlife in the night, and just generally being an amazing friend.
Erika: Thank you for giving me a peek behind the curtain and helping me to set realistic goals and expectations for myself. Your wise words and sage advice allowed me to have more patience and give myself more grace throughout the learning process. Thank you for modeling the grit, tenacity, and drive that it takes to continue learning on your own and pursuing your course once class is over. Let’s get together for Mexican hot chocolate and code sometime. Or, you know, a cold beverage, because it’s August in Southern California.
Lisa: Once upon a warm December night, you welcomed me to my first Girls in Tech event. Thank you for that first warm welcome, and every welcome since where you’ve made me feel safe and included in something larger and more powerful than myself. Thank you for holding my hand with event planning and project managing when I first joined the advisory board… and to this day. Thank you for your warm hugs and enthusiasm that always feel like home.
Vanessa: You are the best example I have ever seen of a woman intent on rising and equally determined to raise others up with her. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive of all efforts, following my story on Instagram and on this blog, and giving me a boost when I need it. Thank you for helping me push past my shyness and inch out of my shell, and reminding me to pay it forward to my fellow ladies in tech whenever and wherever possible.

My Parents – My mom and dad are hands down the most wonderful human beings, and I’m beyond fortunate they’re my parents. Mom and Dad, thank you both for always taking my phone calls and listening to me vent or gush about my experiences and talk at length and in detail about technical things you don’t really understand or care about, except that you care about me and I care about them so you care about them that way. Thank you for letting me lug a second monitor to your house and stash it in your closet so I can work and code on two monitors when I visit. Thank you for letting me eat popsicles in your pool, because when blowing off steam from a long week of class, there’s really no better way than popsicles in a pool. Thank you for always being there for me, and being the best parents anyone could ever ask for.

David – I am so grateful for my incredible partner, more than I can even express on this blog. David my love, thank you for encouraging me, comforting me, and being my most enthusiastic cheerleader throughout this experience and every experience. Thank you for cleaning the apartment, doing all the cooking, doing the vast majority of the packing, and just generally keeping my life afloat for four months. Thank you for pounding it into my stubborn brain that I can do this. Thank you for telling me I’m smart and pretty and capable. Thank you for being proud of me. Thank you for reassuring me. Thank you for pushing me to go to the gym and yoga and spinning, and thank you for encouraging me to be gentle with myself on the nights I was too tired for the gym or yoga or spinning and just wanted to collapse on the couch and stare at the wall. Thank you for still loving me even when I’m difficult. I’m so grateful for you.

You – You, reading this. Thank you for reading this blog that I pour my thoughts and feelings and passions into. Thank you for being part of the medium that started it all, that led me to coding and lured me into tech. Thank you for taking an interest in my writing and my coding journey. Thank you for reading (or skipping) to this point. You rock.

</ XOXO >

[Photo credit: Adi Goldstein via Unsplash]

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