Launch Academy, Week One

My last day at WGBH was October 30, and my coworkers gave me a generous send-off with cake and flowers. I wore so many different hats in my role there, from working behind the scenes at High School Quiz Show to spreading the word about media resources for children to organizing a six-week apprenticeship opportunity for local middle school students. I’ve always had a passion for education innovation, and WGBH has definitely helped me explore it.

I then took a week off and spent most of it feeling unsure of what to do with my free time. That changed rather abruptly…

They didn’t go easy on us during Week 1 of Launch Academy. Monday kicked off a string of 14-hour days, during which I prioritized code over both food and sleep. The past several days have been a series of ups and downs, and my gears are constantly turning. I have felt alternately exhausted and exhilarated. I have barely seen my sister, whom I live with, because I leave early and come home late (and head straight to my desk to continue coding).

Each Friday, we have a “System Check,” a 3 hour coding challenge that we complete independently, that gets graded and counts towards our graduation requirements. I was nervous this morning, but as I progressed through the challenge (and reminded myself to stay calm while reading multiple error messages…), I realized how much I’d grown over the past week.

After our System Checks (and afternoon lecture and challenge), we break out the beers. So, over a beer, I write. I have learned so much from being thrown into the deep end, about:

  • Test-Driven Development
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Inheritance
  • Modules

Test-Driven Development is a key component of Launch Academy‘s coding (and teaching) philosophy. When you’re writing a complex program with many moving parts, it’s helpful to use a behavior-driven development framework like RSpec to test your code as you write it. Launch Academy encourages you to write your tests prior to writing the relevant code. I’m always so eager to dive in and just write code — and I have gotten used to doing so — so it was initially very difficult for me to wrap my mind around TDD. By this time, though, after fighting my way through some particularly complicated challenges, I’ve developed a real appreciation for it.

I’m excited about my progress, and I’m also grateful for the relationships I’ve formed this week. When you’re feeling lost, it helps to be surrounded by peers going through the same thing. All our instructors are awesome. My mentor is terrific. I have made good friends, all from different backgrounds and walks of life, and, every day, I am inspired by their hard work, creative problem-solving, and willingness to collaborate.

At the end of the week, we nominate our peers for certain titles (silly, serious, or complimentary). I am pleased to say I was just voted “Most Positive Attitude” in the cohort! Finally, I have pushed my first commit to Github, which you can view here.

On to Week 2!

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