Reflections on Graduating from a Ruby on Rails Bootcamp

Yesterday, I graduated from the Rails Web Development bootcamp offered by Bloc.

It was the quietest graduation ever. I received a congratulatory email from Bloc, and my parents’ response was simply, ‘Oh, great!’

But I’m not complaining at all. I wasn’t expecting some sort of celebration – that stuff doesn’t matter to me. None of the gifts I received upon graduating from high school, college, or business school really mattered in the long run (or short run for that matter). What matters is what you receive in knowledge – that is the gift.

But this blogpost will not be some grandstanding musing on education-as-its-own-reward.

Instead, I’m here to share the observation that graduation from a coding bootcamp is nothing when compared to the learning that must continue, and I can only hope that others who have graduated from bootcamps feel the same.

On the one hand, I feel like saying, ‘That’s it?’ but on the other hand, I’m like, ‘Yeesh, look at what I have to do now!’

To be fair, I try to comfort myself by saying, ‘I can’t believe where I was earlier this year compared to where I am now.’

In fact, I didn’t take a break at all: before my November 2 graduation date, I jumpstarted my dormant subscription to Treehouse and completed both Python Basics and JavaScript Basics.

I’m performing Google searches on ‘beginner JavaScript projects’ so I can build something to push to my GitHub and explain in detail here in my Portfolio.

Essentially, any beginning – or advanced developer for that matter – needs to adopt the mission of continuous self-improvement. I did not fully understand this concept when I first started to learn to code, but it is crystal clear now. I figured – perhaps like thousands of others – that graduation from a bootcamp or intensive program would be enough to automatically become a programmer and get a full-time job.

Not the case at all.

I remember earlier in my career, I was doing PR for a manufacturing consulting firm who was committed to showing clients the benefits of Kaizen, the practice of continuous improvement that originated in Japan. The consulting firm would run live Kaizens right on the shop floor, seeing if improvements could be made during production.

I was asked to participate in one of these Kaizens, and I remember traveling to a Monroe shock absorber plant in Campinas, Brazil. (Yes, the Kaizen was conducted in Portuguese, which I could hardly understand, but it was still fascinating.)

Learning to code is a personal Kaizen.

But I have decided to reward myself for my graduation from Bloc: next week, I will fly to Pittsburgh to finally meet my mentor, Brittany Martin, in person. Brittany has asked me to serve as a Teaching Assistant for a free Railsbridge course she is leading at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

From student to TA – not bad. But it’s the least I can do to help the next group of budding developers.