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2. Why Bloc?

One of the lessons I have learned from working so many jobs is that there is a direct correlation between how large the pool of people is who can do your job and how much you are paid for said job. Working as a cashier at 7-Eleven? Hope you don’t mind minimum wage. Working as a Sales Associate at T-Mobile? Well, not everyone can be a salesperson and not everyone knows a lot about phones, so you won’t get minimum wage, but there’s still a fairly broad selection of people who can do the job—so the pay falls in the “lower middle class” realm by American standards.

That meant I had to build up a skill that played to my strengths, a skill that not everyone can do. Given my love of electronics, my incessant urge to make order out of chaos, and my determination to make an impact on the world, programming seemed like a good fit.

But how to learn it? I knew that I needed to get some sort of formal education in the matter; again, my workforce experience made that all too clear. it’s not as easy as saying “I can program” on a resume and hoping that the business you want to work for will take your word for it. Besides, even before I knew how to write a single line of code I knew that there were several different programming languages to choose from as my first language, and I wanted some help with making that decision from a source that was smarter on the subject than I was.

My first temptation was to try taking a course at Galvanize, a web developer bootcamp which has a few locations in Northern Colorado and teaches full time courses in web development. But this would have meant quitting my job, which was not an option with so much college debt over my head and all the financial struggles my family was going through in the back of my mind.

It took a Facebook ad (of all things, right?) to make me realize that what was being done at Galvanize during work hours could be done at any time of day I wanted online. Bloc offered a course that would teach me HTML (HyperText Markup Language, a sort of “skeleton” programming language for websites), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, a supplement to HTML that makes it look prettier and less like a 90’s website), and two languages that are often used to build web apps: Ruby and JavaScript (for interacting with databases, creating animations, and other fun things like that). But where other courses would only offer enough training to become a web developer, Bloc’s course taught the concepts of software engineering—which is to say, web development plus training in building databases and algorithms that websites rely on—and guaranteed that I would get a job in the field after completing the course or my money back. When you sign up, they even let you pick a mentor to help you every step of the way.

It sounded like a smart bet, and so far it’s paid off. I’m only on week four of my seventy-two week, part-time course (Bloc lets you choose your own pace), but I’ve learned a ton about web development without having to sacrifice my current job.

And I’ll be sharing all that I’ve learned right here!

Dan RiceComment