Week 0: Making a Plan

Action Plan White Board Banner

Having made the decision to learn to program, it was time to make a plan.

My initial research had given me a pretty good idea of what I wanted to work on and what the different options were as far as education.

My first instinct was that back-end development and working with databases would be the best fit for me, but I also wanted to build a solid overall foundation since I would essentially be starting from scratch. With that in mind, I decided my first steps would be to learn a little bit about a lot of different things rather than focus all of my attention on one or two things. I felt that this would not only give me a better overall understanding of the development process but it would also allow me to make a more educated decision on what I really wanted to focus on long-term.

Now that I knew what I wanted to learn I needed to figure out how I was going to learn it. At my age, going back to school for a Computer Science degree didn’t seem practical. That left me with the choice between self-study or attending a bootcamp. While the idea of a bootcamp appealed to me on some levels, I decided to start with the self-study route for two reasons.

I touched on the first one earlier: I was essentially starting from scratch. Given the fast-paced, crash course nature of bootcamps, I didn’t think I had enough basic knowledge to be able to get as much out of the curriculum as I would like. I understand that there are bootcamps that claim they can teach complete beginners, but if I am going to spend thousands of dollars on training I don’t want to miss half of the lesson on Javascript Arrays because I am still trying to figure out how to link my main.js file into my HTML document.

The second reason was that I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to focus on or even if programming was really going to be a good fit for me long term. There is a big difference between doing something a few hours a week as a hobby and doing it forty or fifty hours a week as a job. If I was going to discover that I was heading down the wrong specialization path or that programming wasn’t for me I would rather it happen after I spent a month working thru an online training site for $25 than after I was a month into an expensive 12-week bootcamp.

Having determined that I was going to start with self-study I needed to figure out which of the many online training sites I was going to focus on. After a ton of research, I decided to divide my learning up into phases.

A Codecademy Learning Path

A Codecademy custom path

Phase one of the plan would start with Codecademy. Based on what I read, it sounded like a great site for those new to programming. I opted to go for the Pro version, which includes additional projects and quizzes. Codecademy has approximately 147 hours of curriculum according to their catalog, so my plan was to spend my first month completing their content.

Once that was done, I would move on to Phase 2 which would be to work thru the content at Code School. Code School also had good reviews but was said to be a little more advanced that Codecademy. They seemed to have about the same amount of content as Codecademy, so I estimated another month for this.

Phase 3 of the plan would be to take what I had learned at Codecademy and Code School and start working on projects at freeCodeCamp.

At that point, I thought I would have a clear idea of what I wanted to focus on and enough of a background to be able to make the most of a bootcamp. My tentative plan from there would be to continue my education by attending a bootcamp, most likely online.

With my roadmap set, it was time to actually start learning things, but more on that in the next post.

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Author: Lee

Hi, my name is Lee and I am a 40-something who recently made the decision to become a self-taught programmer. This site was set up to chronicle that journey and my experiences along the way. Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

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