Hello everyone! My name is Dustin VanCour. I am a member of the Summer 2019 immersive full stack course and this is my story:
Enter a young 13 year old Dustin. His first computer was a hand-me-down Hewlett-Packard PackMate 386 running Windows 3.1. This was my first real exposure to having a computer at home. I couldn’t do much with it but play a few DOS based games such as Duke Nukem, Commander Keen, and a text based adventure called Hugo’s House of Horror.
A few years later, dial up internet became more mainstream and a little black box called WebTV became a thing. It was like a normal cable box, but instead it was equipped with a 33.6k modem and an IR keyboard. This was my first exposure to code through a little website called Geocities.com. What I built was a simple hyperlink style site that would link to MIDI and Gif files. Using basic HTML, I had created something that was, dare I say it, pretty neat!
Since then I had a bit of exposure to WordPress for a podcast I run, but that was about it. Once I had dabbled with that a bit, the itch to want to do something more creative, fulfilling, and desirable really began to sink back in. I had attempted some online training through Udemy, but life just would not allow it. I had a wife, a child, a house to maintain and a career to uphold. Where was I going to find the time when I was already burnt out working 50+ hour work weeks?
Late 2017, I go through a divorce. Emotionally, I was in a tough spot. Trying to juggle my new life and still maintaining a sense of purpose. The idea of coding started swimming around my head again. So, I spent the latter part of 2018 to early 2019 researching the best ways to learn how to code. Boise CodeWorks came into my view for the first time and started researching them as an option. Having found out two of my friends had attended their courses really helped with the decision making process. February 2019 rolled around and I decided to take the plunge. I had enough money to get me through the 13 weeks needed to pass the course plus a little extra. I put my two weeks at my job and left a steady, 12 year career to pursue a dream.
At this point, I am assuming you know what CodeWorks does. So, I am going to tell you a bit about my experience, from the student perspective. Day one of class is a bit nerve racking, at least for me. Every face imaginable was in this class. People looking to change careers and start something fresh, to begin something different, or even advance their current career. Everyone had a story that brought them here and it was fascinating to learn about them all. It took about a week, but our class really loosened up and started to enjoy each other’s company.
After the initial 3-4 weeks, things start to become more intense. You start to realize that what you are learning is very real. Learning about frameworks and working in groups starts to become a regular thing. You get to know that group very personally. It was around the first Hackathon I learned that working in teams is a vital part of this job. Knowing how to communicate with your team will be what advances your projects. Around this time I also started developing very tight friendships with some of the other students. At about the halfway mark, you start what is known as your capstone. A project that is a culmination of everything you have learned up to that point and becomes a centerpiece for your portfolio. And it was during that capstone I developed two very good friendships that honestly, I could not imagine going forward without them. We worked hard together, long hours, weekends, going to each other’s houses to get this project done. The team building was so valuable and worth its weight in gold.
Toward the last few weeks, it was go time. Learning C#/.NET and applying it to a final Vue project was one of the most intense weeks of my life. I will be honest with you. I cried, 4 times, in the process of trying to get this final project completed. 3 of those in despair and worry about whether or not I can complete this project. The final time, was in front of my instructors as they graded the final project and told me I had passed. Genuine tears of joy. The final week was mock interviews and graduation with a ton of guest speakers from around the local industry. All with very valuable knowledge on different topics like the life of a developer, VR, and frameworks.
I will end this with the final words I had for my classmates. The following is a statement I left in the Slack channel for our cohort. Every word in this statement I meant I hold close to my heart:
“Summer CodeWorks Grads,
As we approach our final day as students of Boise CodeWorks, I can’t help but feel a bit sentimental. Personally, this journey has been one of self discovery. Learning about who I am, what I want to be, and what I want out of this current state of my life. It has been absolutely emotional, bringing me to tears at a few points and the final set of tears, being of joy as Mark and Jake graded the final project.
Some of you I have grown closer to than others, but there is not one person in this class that has not somehow impacted my life in a positive way. I cannot express the amount of gratitude, joy, and excitement I felt coming in every day, ready to interact with all of you. Whether it was a simple hello or helping each other with coding questions, you’ve all made that impression on me and in return, I hope I have done so for at least some of you. Whether you like it or not, we’re all friends now. LOL
We are brothers and sisters at arms, ready to take on this world. We made the choice to be here, to learn, grow, and develop a skill set. To help make our lives better and more fulfilling. To go through a mental hell for 13 weeks trying to understand logic, frameworks, and servers at a break-neck pace. And there is not a group of people I would have rather gone through this with. You are all amazing and wish you all the absolute very best after Friday. Thank you for being a team we can all count on.
To the instructors, admins, and TA’s at CodeWorks, thank you for sharing your knowledge, wisdom, and experience with this class. Your ability to confidently and competently teach everyone these skills is well noticed. And in my opinion, could not have asked for a better group to help us get through these particular growing pains.
Here’s to the future everyone! Be well and Keep smiling!”
FINAL THOUGHTS: I would not change this experience for anything. The knowledge gained and the friendships made are worth more than the price of admission. If you find yourself in that position to want to make a move in your life, this could be the answer for you. Don’t question your instincts. Do your research, weigh your options, and make it happen. You control your destiny. Take into your own hands and run hard and fast with it. You’ll thank yourself later.
Wishing you all the best,
Immersive Full Stack Graduate