It’s the Final Countdown

Natalia Ryan
4 min readMar 30, 2021

In exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes I will be taking my final assessment at Flatiron School. Twenty three weeks ago I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Software Engineering has something I’ve dreamt of for the past decade. I was told by previous classmates, professors, and colleagues that I would never be able to fulfill that dream. For many years, I agreed with them. I didn’t have the confidence to seek that education level. I shelved my dream, spent years doing something that I knew wasn’t supposed to be my final destination. Because of this pandemic, I, like many others, was forced to evaluate the role I was currently in. Instead of spending many more years at a great company in a role I wasn’t satisfied in, I decided to pivot and seek education. I spent months researching different computer science bootcamps, before landing on Flatiron.

The enrollment process seemed to go by in a blink of an eye. After getting the congratulatory email, I was placed in a cohort beginning the following week. I was placed in a cohort beginning October 19th, being led by the wonderful Jenn Hansen. I had begun the pre-course work, and by the start date, I hadn’t even completed it all.

Luckily, we started learning from square one. Procedural Ruby, which humors me to reflect on how confused and discouraged I was while learning it. Three short weeks later, I created a Command Line Interface project. To the average eye, it might not have been all that exciting. But to me, it was my Mona Lisa. I had created something all by myself using Ruby. I passed my first project assessment, and I remember thinking “Hey, maybe I do belong here!”. That feeling was short lived, not because it wasn’t true, but because I had a severe case of impostor syndrome.

From Procedural Ruby to Object Oriented Ruby, we learned Sinatra. Sinatra is one of those languages that is rare to find in the wild. It is simple, but mighty when it comes to creating an App. I remember my github file corrupting on Wednesday night, losing all of my progress. I painstakingly built my project from the ground up with the help of the Corneal gem. I created Doc ‘It. An app that would be used to book and keep track of doctor’s appointments. After passing my next assessment, I felt confident heading into Rails.

Ruby on Rails was the beast I wasn’t sure I would be able to conquer. I wasn’t retaining the information being taught to me. Because I couldn’t get this information to stick in my memory bank, I knew I had to work ten times as hard to study. I reviewed Jenn’s lectures for hours on end, watched YouTube demo’s and overwhelmed myself with knowledge. In hindsight, this was the best thing I could have done. I went from disliking Rails, to absolutely falling in love with it. It was certainly an uphill battle, but I concluded this section victorious. For this, I am incredibly proud of myself.

Switching gears to frontend development with JavaScript. After learning the Ruby language, I was confident going into JS thinking it would be an easy transition. Boy was I wrong. Learning JavaScript was an entirely new language that I loved to hate. But in hindsight, I don’t know where we would be without it. Similarly to Rails, I was having trouble retaining and understanding the material at hand. What was this fetch thing? How is it grabbing information? Up until the day my penultimate assessment, I was sure I was going to fail and repeat JavaScript. I knew the information, I knew it very well. I again fed into the impostor syndrome, and let my confidence slip. Because I had a negative mindset, I doubted myself. Which was a hard conclusion to come to, but I knew I had to go into this final phase with the upmost confidence.

React, React, React. I realized how much I truly loved and understood frontend development throughout this section. I have always sworn I’d be a backend developer because I detested the frontend. It’s not that I actually hated it, I just wasn’t strong in it like I was Ruby. The only way to change that, is to put in the work to grow. I spent hours working on my final project, Placemat. It is finally at a place where I am so incredibly proud to present it. I am going into this final assessment equipped with an abundance of knowledge and support from my friends and family.

Throughout this bootcamp, I’ve had to constantly remind myself, “if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it.” This experience is five months, and hundreds if not thousands of hours of coding, and not much free time. You truly get in what you get out of it. As I am nearing the end, I can only reflect with pride and gratitude. I would not be here today if it were not for Jenn Hansen and her lectures. She is thorough, thoughtful, and breaks concepts down into digestible bite size pieces. She had patience through every question I had, even if they seemed silly to me. In addition to her, my small group of friends I’ve made throughout this journey, have been my lifeline. Natty and Desi, I couldn’t have done this without your added knowledge. I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I am excited to see where this job search takes me.