This is an open letter to Cohort 11 of Tech Elevator‘s Columbus Campus. Tech Elevator is a 14 week programming bootcamp teaching .NET or Java, SQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Vue.js. This particular cohort was the first class I was privileged to teach software development to.


Congratulations, You did it!

As graduates of Tech Elevator, you have completed a very intense 14 week programming bootcamp designed to help you understand and be able to apply fundamental programming concepts on back end API servers, front end websites, and the databases that power them.

First of all, it has been my immense pleasure to teach you and invest in you this past quarter of a year. As an instructor, I do what I do for the pleasure of seeing people move on to achieve great things and continue to learn and grow. Sadly, this means that there is a date that people do move on and I must say goodbye, but I know it is just “goodbye for now”.

Secondly, your journey is not yet done. We teach you as much information as you can reasonably retain (and then a bit more) over 14 weeks, and I firmly believe your education was better than what I got from my own 4 year degree. However, even if I could teach you every single thing I’ve learned from two decades of professional development, technology would have changed significantly by the time we were done going over it.

We teach you programming, but we also teach you how to learn more about programming and how to continue to learn and grow. You will need to continuously keep learning on your job for literally your entire career in development. You may think this is an exaggeration, but every night this past week I have learned something new about JavaScript development over the course of explicitly practicing software development while working on side projects.

Keep Practicing

One of my esteemed colleagues says simply to “code every day”. He’s not wrong. As a new developer, without regular practice your skills will deteriorate and it will become more difficult to remember exact syntax, class names, method signatures, etc. These things do become much harder to forget with regular practice and so I implore you to continue to practice regularly.

I like to try to convey to new developers that programming is fun.

It really is.

It’s hard to convey that in an intense bootcamp where we give you a lot of homework and projects to help you build the muscles you’ll need to succeed as a developer, but the reality is that programming is an act of creating something out of an idea, ingenuity, and determination.

So, pick something fun to build and start building it.

Keep Learning

You’ll find new things to learn and what ways of structuring applications work and what ways don’t. You’ll see what you like and what you don’t and be able to continuously grow your skills until you can take on larger and more complex tasks. And, if you’re looking for some ideas of things to continue to learn, I have a few areas to consider:

C#

JavaScript

Vue.js

Git

CSS

Closing

There’s so much more out there to learn, and you will feel overwhelmed and like an impostor out there interviewing and on your first, second, third, fourth, and fifth jobs. It gets better over time, but understand that this is normal. We do not expect you to know everything because technology is broad, deep, and continuously expanding. We do expect you to be able to continue to learn and grow.

This message is long already, and so I will close simply by saying that I am so very proud of what you’ve accomplished, I will miss you greatly, and I believe in you – perhaps more than you may believe in yourself at times.

Go and build awesome things.

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