Fullstack Academy

I recently decided to leave the world of investment banking. I moved to New York City to learn how to code.

I now live in Greenwich Village in a tiny, one bedroom apartment with four other roommates, one of whom is a mouse. I’m attending Fullstack Academy, the top ranked coding bootcamp in the U.S.


 

Why learn to code?

To answer that question, I want to introduce two terms: canvas and resonance.

Canvas is the space within which a person can exercise their creativity in order to build something. In other words, canvas is the breadth of the mediums available for creative expression.

Everyone has a canvas. Painters have literal canvases, but chefs, musicians, and athletes also have canvases. We can increase the size of our canvas by developing new skills and acquiring new knowledge. Canvases can also grow with developments in technology, as new discoveries give us more mediums to work with.

Learning to code drastically increases canvas size. Programming languages govern the machines that power and organize our lives—if you then learn that language, it stretches the blank surface of your canvas to incredible proportions.

However, canvases are just that—blank.

Learning the rules and vocabulary of a language doesn’t make you a poet.

Resonance is what makes you a poet. This second term refers to the ability to recognize and manipulate patterns, as well as represent abstract concepts by structuring fundamental components.

This concept of resonance is easier to point out than it is to define. Think of pieces of music that make you feel happy and uplifted. These passages are just combinations of sound, but they inspire images and emotions that extend beyond the notes.

This phenomenon comes from resonance on canvas. Musicians, operating through their creative medium, recognize and manipulate patterns in such a way that the fundamental components inspire connection with abstract concepts.

What does this have to do with coding?

Learning to code increases your resonance. When you learn to code, you start with the fundamental syntax of machine language and you figure out how it all fits together. The process helps you recognize and utilize patterns. You’re also forced to take large ideas and business concepts and break them apart into reusable component pieces.

So, learning to code increases both your canvas and your resonance. Cool.


 

Why choose Fullstack Academy?

Fullstack teaches Javascript, which maximizes canvas size. Javascript is unique among programming languages because it can be used on servers, in web browsers, and on mobile devices. The language’s ubiquity has inspired a mantra among developers: “Javascript is eating the world”.

Javascript is also incredibly performant. Programming languages are often categorized as compiled languages or interpreted languages. To address a complex topic very briefly, interpreted languages need to be run through an extra step before your computer can understand the instructions. This means that programs written in compiled languages—languages like C++ and Java—run faster than programs written in interpreted languages—languages like Python and Ruby. However, interpreted languages allow for more flexibility and abstraction. In a sense, they are more “programmer-friendly”.

Javascript is interesting because it exists somewhere between the two categories. It has the programmer-friendly syntax of an interpreted language, but many sections of Javascript code can be executed like a compiled language. This “language-optimization” is due in large part to the support that Javascript receives from large organizations and companies, most prominently Google. Google’s V8 engine is the runtime environment that powers both Google Chrome and Node.js. The V8 engine is able to optimize the performance of certain programs, making Javascript an incredibly fast language.

I also chose to attend Fullstack because of their commitment to an authentic learning environment. It can be easy for academic bootcamps to slide into the habit of dispensing knowledge and handing out certifications. Fullstack consciously and deliberately fights against these tendencies by focusing on things like developing technical communication skills through pair programming and team projects, learning to write modular code, thinking programmatically, and gaining a true understanding of popular libraries and frameworks rather than treating them like black boxes.

These two reasons for choosing Fullstack—the appeal of Javascript and the programs’s commitment to the learning process—correspond to the two terms I outlined above. Attending Fullstack drastically increases both the size of your canvas and your resonance.


 

So what?

Building stuff—creative activity—is an intrinsic part of human nature. It is healthy for you to build things. An extended period without creative activity will have comparable effects to an extended period without working out, or without eating well, or without laughing.

There aren’t many workplaces that have figured out how to prioritize creative activity in a way that benefits both the company and the employee (which is understandable; it’s a very challenging problem). This means that the burden of maintaining ‘creative health’ usually falls on the individual.

I’d like to challenge you to accept that burden. I’d like to challenge you to increase your canvas and your resonance. Find a medium that you’re comfortable with and build something beautiful. Then go out, find a new medium, and build something else beautiful.

Don’t stop picking up the paint brush.

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