I have been a software engineer for almost three years, and I want to help people who are considering code school to better understand what they are getting into.
There were many repetitive tasks in my research, and one of them involved graphing data that had been recorded by a sensor. The data was stored in csv format, and I would upload the file into Excel, select the columns, create a scatterplot, write labels for the axes, calculate the trend-line, export the chart as an image, and save it into a numbered folder. Tedious. Repetitive. Redundant. Work.
After performing this workflow a dozen times, I started researching alternatives. I used a Bash script to import the data into R, graph it, add the axis labels and a customized title, and export the result into an image. I also performed a regression analysis and used awk to scrape the output and save it to an analysis file. In the end, I could point my script at a folder containing the data files and it would generate all the charts I needed, and save them in the appropriate place. I may have spent hours tweaking that script into shape, but it saved me days of mind-numbing work at every phase of my experiment. It was thrilling, and I became hooked on programming.
I spent the following two years studying software development through night school at McGill University. They offered a certificate program that offered a great overview of all the possible specializations one could pursue in IT, including network design, database design, and operating systems administration. I still use a lot of the foundational knowledge I gained in those courses, and I chose to attend code school in order to fill in the gap of practical application that I felt my resume was lacking.
Attending code school was the best decision I have ever made. I love my new career because I get to solve complex problems, improve my own efficiency, and learn constantly. Check out my book for more about what I have learned through my code school journey and beyond. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made the same choice but I would have been less anxious and better prepared.
Katie Leonard – 2016