Finishing my first Programming Course


For the last couple of years now I had been wanting a change in my career. I could never quite pinpoint what exactly it was I wanted to do, all I knew is I needed something different, so I just kept going along in my current job. This isn’t a bad job by any means, it provides plenty for me, good salary, great team to work with, but the actual job itself doesn’t really provide any enjoyment anymore. Things changed about a year ago when I was tasked to lead the development from the business side of a new system for our team, to replace our legacy-built system from twenty years ago. This new role had me working every day for hours with the development team, seeing that world firsthand for the first time. I had dabbled a little into basic VBA code for my team, being the ‘tech guy’, but never anything crazy. I really enjoyed this new role, bridging the gap between the business needs and seeing the developers translate that to actual system development. Come this past summer, our system had launched, and I found myself developing more and more tools for my team using excel VBA. It was around this time I realized I really enjoyed these tasks, finding solutions to problems and headaches my team dealt with, using code (not that I really knew much, I just got VERY good at googling for solutions and implementing them myself).

Bootcamps and Launch School

In mid-August, I was set to take a couple of weeks off from work. Either the first or second day of this vacation (or staycation really, since its 2020), I had seen some ads from my alma-mater about a new Coding Bootcamp, which caught my attention. I checked out the website, and reached out for more information, which took a couple of days to get back to me, and those couple days really pushed me forward to my track today. After really researching these Bootcamps I discovered Launch School. After reading about their methods and what the learning track really looked like, I decided this was the track for me. I discussed all of this with my wife at length, we both knew I needed a change, and with her being a teacher, the mastery-based learning track was something she believed in as well, and we decided this was the best course for me. I didn’t want to just quickly take in as much information as I could in a short period of time for a quick out, after all, I still have a good job, I wanted to truly understand the material, take as much time as it takes, in order to launch into an entirely new career where I can be successful, and enjoy my role fully.

Launch School sure didn’t sugar coat anything, it will take time. Luckily with still about a week and a half left of my vacation I decided to begin with the free intro courses. I immediately started spending about 6 hours a day, on my vacation, just going through these intro courses, and really enjoying them. I just became more excited to really learn an entire new skill, and potentially do something I would enjoy for the next chapter in my life.


About a week after I had been back at work following my vacation, I had finished the intro courses, and began the full paid courses. RB101 definitely stepped up the instruction now, and I can see why a lot of people say this course takes them the longest. Learning all of this world with no real base of knowledge or experience takes time, and there really is a lot to learn. I find it amazing to look back now on where I was about a month and a half ago to where I am now, from barely any knowledge of code to pumping out mini program after mini program. I would say this course has really helped lay a base of knowledge moving forward, really understanding how the basics work, not just knowing what to type. Now that I’m coming close to the end, through six lessons and over a hundred exercises, I would say that I do indeed have a good foundation for moving forward. That being said, I’m definitely nervous about the first assessment, with both the written evaluation and a live interview! I’m also thinking of going back through most of the course again, at the very least the exercises, to really drive home the concepts so I’m completely ready. Here’s hoping it goes well!


I think one of the things that has helped the most was the ideas provided at the very early stages, from instructors, blogs, and past students. I would say that the key to success in Launch School, or really with learning any new skill, is to stay consistent. My original plan starting RB101 was to study for two hours before work every day (give or take 15–30 mins depending on early meetings), some studying after work, while my wife is working on her master’s degree courses, and at least 3–5 hours on Saturday and Sunday. A few weeks into this I found myself starting to stray from this path, becoming less consistent, and I can 100% say this hindered my learning. Realizing this and getting back to consistent timing immediately helped, so to really drive this point home, consistency is key. For me personally, I find it helps to keep an ‘eye on the prize’ as the saying goes. I know that at the end of this journey I can start a new career that I can be happy in, and that is my ultimate goal, no matter how long it takes. So even though it can be a grind at times, just remembering the reward at the end can really help keep that desire and consistency. Now, on to more studying and my first assessment!



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Derek Watson

Derek Watson

Current Business Professional, on a journey to start an entire new career in the world of programming.