Back to school

10 Apr 2020

category is ~ life ~ development ~ python ~

I'm a student, as Heather from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend would say. Last week I spent a lot of time and energy organising my entry to a PCAP course that kicked off this week. To my relief, despite the ongoing crisis, the further education centre is continuing its courses remotely. I was fortunate enough to have my employer cover most of it, but as a part-time employee, my development budget isn't that big, so I also had to dig into my savings. Still, it's an investment.

Never mind that the pandemic has disrupted normal life anyway; doing this has involved a complete change in my personal routine. Before, I went to work three days a week, and up until my decision to put my previous career out to pasture, was also freelancing basically every day. I'm now on a Monday-Friday schedule, with class in the morning and work in the afternoon. Rather than the luxury of a slow morning routine before getting the 20-minute train to work (my employer is mercifully pretty flexible about working times), I now have to make sure I'm up at 6:30am and reasonably awake before class starts. Lunch break, review the lesson a bit, then start work.

We're a group of about six students and this course will take about two months, and who knows what will happen in terms of current events in that time? If this were the pre-Covid world, things would be even more hectic. I'd have to get up even earlier to make it to school, as opposed to my living room table. After school finished, I'd have to make sure I ate lunch, then get to work (luckily the two aren't super far apart).

It's true that I've done a lot of self-teaching over the past half year or so, know a couple of great people who more or less mentor me, and have learnt the most through fiddling around with this blog and other personal projects, but something big needed to change. I needed to boost my confidence through consolidating my knowledge, having guidance, and also, you know, getting a qualification (which is especially important in Germany). Completing programming tasks within five minutes is new for me. I'm excited when the tutor uses my work as an example solution, even if there's room for improvement, because I feel seen.

The past few months, I've been plagued by this need for something to change in order to move forward with my career, but encountering constant obstacles. Bootcamps aren't a panacea; for one thing, most of them are full-time, but I need to work. Secondly, they are prohibitively expensive; a lot of the ones in Berlin are approved by the federal job centre and you can apply to get them to cover the entire cost, but you have to be unemployed for that (if this is you, just google Bildungsgutschein Agentur für Arbeit). Also, none of them offered a stack I wanted to learn; I was keen to keep focusing on Python, and at this time, I'm not interested in the JS backend framework du jour. Fourthly(!), if I'm honest with myself, the idea of a bootcamp isn't right for me. I have already learnt that I don't thrive in intense, fast-paced situations that involve a lot of social contact, and I can only imagine that having to absorb alien concepts on top of that, under pressure, would be destructive to my well-being.

In any case, I am excited, but knackered. I have definitely earnt this long bank holiday weekend.


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