Setting up for Change
Like you, I was looking for something different. I had a steady, but unsatisfying job that wasn’t challenging or rewarding, financially or otherwise. I had a mountain of student loan debt that I’d taken on to get an undergraduate and then graduate degree, and knew I’d never be able to pay off. I figured it would just eventually die with me. I’d only sort of tossed around the idea of a coding school, and wasn’t certain that it was the right choice for me, but I knew for sure that it was time for change.
In early 2017, I began Launch School’s prep course without any real programming experience. While I worked through the course, I watched the webinars, read the student testimonials, and listened to the podcasts. As I listened, I heard Chris talking about a certain kind of student that was overly eager, enthusiastic, and confident in their coding skills. These students, he said, had the energy but not necessarily the follow-through. They believed in themselves so much that they wanted to speed through the courses to fast-track their way to a high-paying gig. But that desire is not enough, Chris said. It takes dedication, daily practice, and sacrifice, for months or even years. Mastery Based Learning is a slow burn. But I am not the type of student he was talking about. I was uncertain, cautious, and slow. With zero experience, I hedged my expectations. It’s not that I lack confidence in my intellectual abilities or work ethic, but I try to calculate where I can, and reduce risk. Sometimes in life, things just don’t work out the way you planned. I knew the test for myself would be dedicating the time every single day to studying and learning. If I could do that, then I could probably pass the first assessment. Setting these small incremental goals was the only way the lifestyle I adopted for Launch School was sustainable.
With a toddler, a full-time job, and my share of life’s surprises, the 2 years I spent studying 20 hours per week at Launch School was challenging to say the least, but I found many small rewards along the way. For most of that time, I chose not to discuss Launch School or my goals for career change with many people. I didn’t expect to get a warm, encouraging reaction from telling friends and family that I’d decided to hop on the bandwagon and join an online coding school in hopes of doubling my salary, so instead I just said it was a skill I was learning and left it at that. Keeping my cards close helped me stay focused and not let doubt creep in.
After acing the first assessment, I was hooked. I studied hard, and worried a bit too much, but in the end, I was over-prepared and nailed it. With their positive feedback and encouragement throughout the curriculum, the TAs and instructors were holding hope for me before I was able to hold it for myself. I trusted them, and I trusted the process. And I’m glad I did. I completed the core curriculum in 18 months. Then I quit my job - cutting off my family’s primary income source - to join Capstone full-time at 60+ hours per week. It felt like a huge leap of faith, but I’d seen the results previous students had, and I knew that having a sophisticated engineering project under my belt was my best shot at the outcome I’d been planning for almost 2 years - a challenging and rewarding career in software development.
While the work that I put into Capstone and the great career search advice from the instructors got me a six-figure salary as a Software Engineer within 4 weeks of starting the job hunt, Launch School’s emphasis on fundamentals all along the way have allowed me to tackle complex, higher level problems at work with confidence. Every day, I’m entrusted with challenging tasks across the stack that touch on nearly everything I learned at Launch School over the years. I continue to learn from intelligent, highly-skilled colleagues, and contribute to our products in significant ways. I recommend Launch School, without hesitation, to anyone who wants this kind of change. All you have to do is follow instructions. It’s one weird trick to change your life.