Why I chose a coding bootcamp in 2021

Against all advice, I decided to apply to a coding bootcamp. In 2021. During Covid. “Are you crazy?” you might ask. Well, maybe I am. I’m also a risk taker, voicing my opinion on a topic in such a way that likely will not resonate with others. Various people have told me not to leave healthcare during times like these. Various people also aren’t me. I was not living like Little Layton would want me to live. (Little Layton refers to my childhood self and all the aspirations we have about our future selves.) While I may just be your average millennial making poor decisions to some, I had to do what I felt was best for me. I had to be selfish if for no other reason than to maintain my sanity and save my own life for once.

In 2020, I came to the realization that I needed to take a bit of a mental inventory of my life. No longer was I the college sophomore taking morning classes and working in retail part time while living rent free thanks to having a supportive boyfriend and mother. I was what my family described as a “big girl with big bills”. Not only was I trying (and failing miserably) to juggle taking two online classes a semester while meeting the demands of working a full-time job (a job that went from thirty-six hours a week to seventy-two thanks to Covid), but I had some serious debt. Debt to the tune of $100,000 to be exact. Shoutout to younger me who felt the need to get two bachelor’s degrees and a sports car (cue internal screaming). Why was I taking two classes you ask? In order to get financial aid as I couldn’t afford tuition, rent, food, and the like despite paying down my debt aggressively over the course of two years. Why was I working full time? In my opinion, respiratory therapy does not exactly pay much unless you’re on a travel contract which, by the way, could be cancelled at any time. Things weren’t looking up for me, and I desired to make a drastic change.

A woman sitting at bedside crying
A woman sitting at bedside crying

Surrounded by death and despair, I truly felt like my life depended on leaving my career as a respiratory therapist. I was sad, miserable, depressed, anxious, and I can honestly say I hated my life. These feelings weren’t new to me as I have taken antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications for over a decade as well as been under the watchful eye of physicians and therapists. Yet, this was the first time I had actually felt truly hopeless. Like many of my fellow healthcare workers, my mental health was suffering now more than ever. What good is it to take medications and see your physicians during the day when you keep throwing yourself right back into the fire every night from 1800–0600? As cliché as this might sound, working in Covid ICUs really made me realize how fragile life is and how we can appear fine one moment and drop dead the next. I had seen it happen on more than one occasion. Thus, I began my search for a solution to my problems. I needed to live my best life, and I needed to start ASAP.

Although I was never a fan of sitting in a classroom, I figured that attending a bootcamp with a hybrid program such as DigitalCrafts would benefit me. I desired a sense of community and knew that being a part of the Atlanta Tech Village would give me just that. I am in no way, shape, or form collecting anything from DC or ATV by sharing my experience. My opinions are my own. So, while I have always disliked school and classroom settings, I decided to get up and venture out of my apartment to the ATV so that I could mingle with other students. Besides, sitting in my apartment attempting to earn the title of “self-taught developer” was not going well. I was motivated due to my desire to escape the depressing hospital setting, yet I am a very social person. I have to admit that my loneliness made me lose focus. A lonely girl with a lack of structure made for a sad experience learning.

After gaining acceptance to DigitalCrafts, I began the prework and managed to make a pretty neat About Me page. I have virtually no programming experience so it’s not that great. Yet, I was amazed at what I created. I was amazed at what I could do once I stopped doubting myself. Word of advice: if you are considering doing a bootcamp, do as much of the prework as you can. I’ll admit that I ran out of time and did not finish all of it. Thus, my first week at DC was a bit overwhelming. I honestly questioned whether I should be there because I felt as if I was out of place. I’m accustomed to wearing scrubs and being in the hospital at the bedside, not sitting at a desk in business casual clothes looking at three screens. However, I can’t ignore the wonderful feeling that you get when your code actually works. It’s a high like no other. The feeling of actually understanding what a program is doing is incredible. My curiosity always gets the best of me, and as a result, I spend a substantial amount of time doing research. I have to know, “What will happen if I do this?” Naturally, I’m a very inquisitive person. I love learning, and I love creating. There’s not much room for creativity in the hospital due to protocols and having people’s lives in your hands. With that being said, I began to believe that maybe I do belong in the tech space.

While I’m still very new to the world of programming, I have high hopes for myself. I’m learning so much. Much of it is of a personal nature, yet there are so many topics I never touched on when teaching myself to code. Between my strong desire to change my life and a great support system comprised of my bootcamp cohort, family, and an amazing mentor, I cannot lose. I’d like to think that so far, I’ve made Little Layton proud.

Respiratory therapist and software developer hopeful. I write a little bit here and there.

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