I’ve actually always wanted to make a post like this, but I also wanted to wait for something that I felt warranted it ~
A few days ago I finished my back end development certificate, culminating one of the most ambitious projects of personal growth I’ve ever independently attempted. I suspect a quick backstory on me is in order
Why Did I Start fCC?
My interest in Computer Science stems from my involvement with competitive programming in highschool; the theory has always been appealing to me. However, after starting my summer job hunt I quickly realized that I needed more than just abstract application. I could solve a Dynamic Programming or Graph Theory challenge problem, but that wasn’t marketable as a stand alone skill. To better my chances at landing a field-related job I decided to spend the summer learning industry relevant skills - ultimately choosing to follow the fCC curriculum for its widespread praise, and because I already had an account on the website.
My fCC Journey
(Pre?) Journey StartI technically started freeCodeCamp on Christmas of 2016 - though during this time I just rushed through challenges and dismissed it as another "Learn HTML/CSS/JS" w3schools type websites - something that would spoonfeed you to the end and then give you a multiple choice, certifying test.
I would log on through January to occasionally rush down a few more challenges before class.
It wasn't until I reached the Projects section did I realize how intense freeCodeCamp would really be.
Journey CoreOn April 14, 2017 I started to take freeCodeCamp seriously. At this point I had made the decision to fully commit to the curriculum - opting not to take a university summer course which I felt would distract me from completing fCC. My goal was to finish fCC before the start of my second year in September. I wanted to be fully committed to becoming employable.
At first I grinded as hard as I could - spending up to 10 hours a day, trying to get a project to work. But I quickly tired from this monotonous intensity and missed the variety I had been challenged with in university. So I began to incorporate other elements, like competitive programming, to my routine to keep myself interested and motivated.
By June I had my weekly routine down. I would participate in at least two programming competitions per week. If I couldn't find a contest I would do work from a CP textbook. I would spend a few hours, one day of the week, looking for or participating in hackathons. I would spend at least 3 hours a day working on fCC. As I would code on fCC I always tried to listen to something that would continue to better myself - most of the time this turned out to be BBC podcasts analyzing cultures around the world.
Biggest RoadblockMy biggest obstacle in completing fCC took me by surprise with the Backend Dynamic Web Projects, near the end of my journey, when my motivation was draining. This was the first real time I felt completely lost on how to continue. I knew I wanted to finish it, but had no clue on how to actually do it. I found the Clementine boilerplate difficult to work with, but I had no experience with linking React to Express - essentially connecting the Front End and the Back End. I was disoriented and lost focus. I aimlessly searched the internet while I wasn't sure what I was looking for.
After full week of scrolling through archived Stack Overflow posts, telling myself I was getting closer I realized I was procrastinating. I was dismissing options that I came across simply because they didn't look like something I was comfortable with. I forced myself to pick an option and just see how far I could go with it.
It was difficult and stressful, but when I finally completed the first dynamic web project (voting app) I realized how far I had come and how far I could go if I really set my mind to it. I used this motivation, treating every struggle as a learning experience for the future, to persevere and finish the last projects that stood between me and the final certificate.
In Closing:grimacing: I really feel like I wrote too much and not nearly enough..
I want to say thank you to this amazing community - without seeing how many other people were experiencing similar struggles I would have never come close to finishing the front end certificate. Thank you to the mods for your quick and patient replies. A huge thank you to everyone responsible for keeping freeCodeCamp alive and what it is today.
You can check out my projects [fCC Page](https://www.freecodecamp.org/c-deguzman)
(there should be a link to my github on there, but if not [Github](https://github.com/c-deguzman) )