Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

$14K. That’s the price of the coding bootcamp that I was accepted to. That’s the price of quitting my current job as a consultant, applying for more loans to add to the current student loans I have in order to successfully pivot away from my career in healthcare finance and finally follow my creative passion in web development.  I never typically prescribe myself into traditional pathways to success. I was always limited by my means and learned how to thrive within my restrictions. However, I was able to reason to myself that $14K was the price of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As the dust of decision making starts to settle in, I am submitted by how far I’ve come (I got accepted to a coding bootcamp) and how many times I have been declined of loan application and payment programs. These are not news to me. I’m used to this by now, I tell myself.

I’ve never doubted the decision to go to a coding bootcamp, but the financial realities of paying for it has set me back to reality. Is it really all worth it?

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people any more that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people who dream, and support, and do things.” —Amy Poehler

Reading: “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All” by IDEO

“At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you.”

When I first picked Creative Confidence, I thought it was going to be just another design/ creative self-help book filled with adages proclaiming to “be creative” and to “turn Ideas into action”. Turns out, it was better than that! I feel like I have a duty to just buy the book from the library or get my own copy from how much I’ve dog-eared.

Fortuitously, this book came in handy when I was assigned to lead weekly meetings for my team for the month of May to guide discussions on anything the team, or I, would find helpful for career development, or expanding our skill sets and knowledge base.

I finished reading chapters and and went straight to my meetings, utilizing all the exercises and examples I just absorbed. At first, I was greeted with a lot of skepticism, “Our boss would not like this” or “I’m wasting my billable hours”. Good thing I was in charge of the meetings.

Image result for creative confidence

The first discussion I lead was about Brainstorming. This meant identifying (and redefining) the problem and the solution. Using my own creative spin, I utilized the Bugs List to get the team thinking more critically about the world and identify “bugs”, which are problems or pockets as frustrations, as opportunities to improve something. Great discussion was had and the team was energized by their collective frustration. After identifying problems, I gave some tips on how to Reframe the Solution. Using the tips of asking a better question to answer, that addresses the human need and sparks more inspiration. The next week, I asked the team to express their emotions using only triangles, squares and circles. It was different, but I felt like it was my duty to break the analytic and logical mindset hardwired to my team.

“The first step toward a great answer is to reframe the question.”

Throughout the next weeks, I was constantly using it as a point of resource, my creative bible. I admit, it gave me my own confidence. But there’s something about practicing what you preach that helped me embrace this book. It wasn’t a book about IDEO’s success story, filled with ego and pride. . Nor was it filled with metaphorical adages about design (Cough, Rework). They gave exact steps and exercises to help build our own creative muscles. And lastly, the examples the Kelley brothers used were not stories of extraordinary people, they were ordinary people who found their own creative confidence.

“Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice.”

Reading: “Imagine: How Creativity Works” by Jonah Lehrer

Notes:

Ideas & creativity

  1. Hopelessness → Revelation: The hardest work always comes after when you’re trying to make Idea to a Reality
  2. The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for making sense of the whole (not just seeing the parts).
  3. The human imagination has no clear precursors. It’s out of no where.
  4. William James: “The [creative process] is like a seething cauldron of ideas, where everything is fizzling and bobbling about in a state of bewildering activity.

Persistence is necessary. Nothing good is every easy.

Creativity as an Act of Unconcealing.

  1. That’s because we see nothing at first glance. It’s only really thinking about something that we’re able to move ourselves into perceptions that we never knew we had the capacity for. We unconceal the reality of it from the clutter of the world, by all the ideas and sensation that DISTRACT THE MIND. it is the KNIFE OF CONSCIOUS ATTENTION to cut away the excess and reval the things themselves. → RAW ←
  2. Einstein: “creativity is the residue of time wasted.”
  3. Steve Martin: “Naivete is the quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.

On cities

  1. Cities are INEXHAUSTIBLE SOURCE OF IDEAS.
  2. With each addition, productivity and innovation increases.
  3. This is what makes it rare and different from corporations.
  4. Walking speed of people are directly correlated to creation of new ideas.
    1. MOST COLLISIONS!
  5. Ideas become more USEFUL when they become more POPULAR
  6. The unifier for all ideas and people. How every creative story is different but also the same. “Out of nothing, is something.”

Brands

  1. Used to be about establishing AUTHORITY and reliability. Now, it’s all about EMPATHY.
  2. Used to attract us through specs and capabilities, now, it has to ENABLE AN EXPERIENCE.
  3. Newness: the thrill of discovery but also the thrill of not having to decide.
  4. Using narrative is the delivery vehicle, a way to emphasize and empathize with human interaction.
  5. brands help us understand the world and make decisions.
  6. How we remember (chronology + nostalgia)
    1. [Arbitrary thing] + [Beginning, middle and End] = something we can own, embrace and share.
  7. We all tell our own stories, because we are all the leading character, and everyone has a supporting role.

We have two ears and one mouth

I tend to be cut and dry when it comes to learning certain things. I can say I’m a pretty good listener but being an effective listener was another. It didn’t help to have a very logic/analytic brain that I’m quick to problem-solving and not thoroughly aware of the fact that I opine unwantedly and completely be blind to the emotions.

With the help of an actual lynda.com Effective Listening course, I was able to dissect the conversation I had with my partner last night and realize the true focus of the problem. Yes, we had an argument and I took an online course to be better listener. It helps! There are appropriate ways to respond to a speaker and demonstrate how to listen effectively.

Knowing what my strengths and weaknesses were in comes to listening allowed me to focus on the true intention and purpose of listening and start creating good habits.

  • Always and primarily paraphrase the content and emotion of what the speaker has been talking about. Being able to offer a quick summary is the easiest way to show that you have been actively listening. Don’t focus too much on the details, and ask frustrating questions. Don’t make it about yourself. The speaker has been vulnerable enough to come to us. Don’t be quick to criticize and provide advice without being asked. We are always trying to learn something from what the speaker has to say.
  • It’s important to clarify your role as a listener at the beginning of the conversation. Asking the speaker “Do you just want to vent?” or “Are you asking for my advice?” can help us be the listener the speaker needs us to be. We have to be aware of our mental filters, before we start prioritizing what we need to know and start criticizing them about the things that don’t fully align with our thinking.
  • Mirroring is the best way to empathize. By  listening and paraphrasing what we listen to in the similar tone, body language, we start to fully understand the speaker. By sitting in the same posture as they are, we can relate to the emotional state of the speaker.
  • Silence is golden. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. When we sit there in silence, we are to say “I am here with you 100%”.
  • Practice, practice, practice by deliberately practicing we can be effective listeners. Or else, it’ll be really emotionally straining. GUH. Like me rn.

Continue reading “We have two ears and one mouth”

Reading: “The Argonauts” by Maggie Nelson

argoNotes

  • On the notion of “feeling real”
    • When finding an identity, “one can aspire to feel real, other can help others to feel real, and one can oneself feel real” and is tied to the primary sensation of aliveness “the aliveness of the body tissues and working with body functions, including the heart’s action and breathing” which makes spontaneous gesture possible. In regards to Winnicott, “feeling real is not a reactive to external stimuli, nor is it an identity. It is a sensation– one that spreads. Among other things, it makes you want to live.
  • On the unaddressed greatness of motherhood
    • Addressing D.W. WInnicott, Nelson notes it’s better not tell mothers that what they are doing is important “When a mother has a capacity quite simply to be a mother we must never interfere. She will not be able to fight for her rights because she will not understand.” Simply they all believe the are ordinary
  • The concept of “leaving an empty space so that God could rush in.”
    • They say that in bonsai, you often plan a tree off-center in the pot “to make space for the divine. This concept covers something more greater, in that there is no center! And this will keep you going in heart or art.
  • What does being trans mean?
    • While often used as a shorthand for “transitioning”, we are often familiar with people say they were “born in the wrong body”. For some, it’s an idea of leaving the idea of gender entirely behind. For a society that demands resolution, it seems there is always a destination to the journey, “transitioning to what?” leaving plenty in confusion, conflict or grief. In such cases, the best is to simply listen to what people have to tell you and treat them accordingly without having to gloss over their version of reality with yours.
    • It’s hard to comprehend that becoming sometimes doesn’t have an end result, becoming, transitioning, in which one never really becomes. Nelson simply, “A becoming in which one never becomes, a becoming whose rule is neither evolution nor asymptote but a certain
    • turning, a certain turning inward, turning into my own, turning on in, to my own self, at last, turning out of the white cage, turning out of the large cage turning at last (Lucille Clifton)

The Execution of All Things

It was an hour past midnight, New Year’s Eve at a friend’s party. I was grilling a guy about his “startup” idea knowing that he about to move to Seattle, WA. I was jealous. Another app? Riveting. Another guy leaving Milwaukee? That’s great. I always end up asking the same question, “How did you know what you want to do?” A field research staple, collecting data points as though all these answers were going to help me answer that question myself.

In absolute NYE drunk phase, I remember staring at a moving mouth and the sound of his voice and chatter, once fading, were starting to get louder and louder. “What do you want to do? What are you passionate about?” He was staring straight at my blank face. Trying to force out an answer, I took a deep breath and exhaled, “I see all these horrible things in the world, and I realize it was just a guy who chose to do something about it. Well, I have ideas too, and I want to be able to do something with them!”

Simple as that. I finally answered that age-old question, 25 years later.

That’s the long story no one asked for. And that’s why I’m learning how about web development and how to code. It’s more than just the buzzword for me.

I started in healthcare, shuffling between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare facilities, churning out financial reports and dashboard analyses without a lick of intellectual ground and aesthete. I became absolutely immersed in the automaticity and acceptability of my performance. It was great.

But I remained distracted. Certain themes do persist in my habits outside of work, which is where all the play takes part. I always loved to read about the design of everyday things, but I always found it really hard to relate the topics with other people. 80/20 rule? That’s cool. To me, it was mind blowing. There are rules that every single thing in this world obeys and it made the world so beautiful. Similar to the fundamentals of my science background, there were so many elements begging to be broken down into pieces and putting it back together to see something new. (This is the part in my writing where I realize Science is Design!)

Moving to the presidential election, and well, all the shit that has been happening in the world. I was in inspired by the few who were able to be the voice of reason. To be able to be so consumed by the world around them and turn it into their work. What was it that was different about them? They were all designers. Visionaries. The movers and shakers. The ones that make the world a better place.

I simply wanted to take part in changing the world, at least, increase my understanding of how the world works and how or why certain people feel the certain way. The next step to take was learning what tools I needed. It was only necessary and inevitable that I learned how to code. Code is the medium of the digital age. No, the digital age is no longer the future, it’s the present. It’s going to be (and it has been) a big change on the tools I already use.

My journey towards web development, and design and everything that I am not, has only begun but I’ve never felt more motivated and optimistic. The resources and the community of web design may be unlimited and generous, but it’s going to take time, as I learn how to learn and unlearn. It’s been a rough start, it feels like I’m doing some black magic. It’s the web! It holds so much opportunity. A platform to communicate, and of course, to finally execute my ideas.