***The Journey So Far is a series of post that chronicle the steps I’m taking to learn code and become a programmer. These posts are more personal and function more like journal entries. Follow The Journey So Far series using the “Our Mission” category***
It’s 4:37 in the morning, and I head to the kitchen to make another pot of coffee. The only noise I hear is the soft hum from my laptop’s fan. I tip toe around my apartment in effort not to disturb my slumbering neighbors. It doesn’t matter, really: in about an hour my alarm will go off giving me a signal to shower and get ready for work. I’ve done this same routine for the past 3 days. The total number of hours of sleep I’ve managed to sneak in within these 3 days? Thirteen hours, maybe—14 tops. In all, I’ve never felt more awake, alive, and passionate about what I’m doing than during these nights I have spent coding until dawn.
I made the commitment to brush up on programming languages when I started losing content strategy projects to web developers. I had been designing blogs and websites for local entrepreneurs since grad school. Between creating content, managing social media accounts, and doing routine website maintenance, I was making enough as a student to venture out as a freelancer upon graduation. Like many bloggers and designers, I stayed in my lane, not making much effort to learn code and outsourcing projects that required it. Eventually, clients wise up and “cut the fat”, going with more specialized developers who offer complete front and back-end packages. Never being one to hate, I peeped what was happening, and began plans to adjust and develop my skills accordingly.
Being able to code not only broadens the opportunities one can take advantage of in career development, it’s also imperative today in a society that pushes tech literacy. Blacks have traditionally played the role of consumers of technology, but by becoming producers we can create and customize products suitable to our needs. As a designer and blogger, I have to be able to understand a variety of digital mediums that are popularly used. Being able to write and manipulate code allows me to create better user experiences.
Thus, here I am, teaching myself code and taking free online CS classes throughout the night while continuing to freelance and work by day. 2014 has been the year of sacrifice and delayed gratification so far and I’m okay with that. One day, I’ll sleep again.