- Buying hope -

13th July '18

  1. Stay in my current job
  2. Apply for another job in Bangkok
  3. Apply for another job elsewhere (probably Chiang Mai)
  4. Become a hobo again
  5. Do a programming bootcamp

Since writing the last blog, the only thing that's been on my mind, is what I'm doing in the future.

And if you remember in the last blog, I said that the decision that I had to make with the most urgency was whether I was going to apply for another job in Thailand. Because if I was, then it had to be soon. It had to be in time to have an interview before boarding my flight to London.

And I did seriously consider it. For most mornings afterwards, I woke-up thinking 'ok, today I'll send off an application.'

There was only ever one or two jobs I was interested in. After all, there's no point applying for something that puts me in a worse situation than I'm in now.

But what ultimately stopped me was... I don't see this as a part of my future.

If the vision of my life that I have goes to plan, I won't ever teach another English class after March, and I may even teach my last English class next week.

In the latter scenario there's obviously no point in applying for a new teaching job, but even in the former, even if I get a better job than I have now, there's always a learning curve with a new job, there are hassles with getting visas, and certainly if I got a job offer in Chiang Mai, but perhaps even in Bangkok, it might mean that I have to move elsewhere. And that's always costly and time consuming. And when, in my mind, I'm not even going to be in this profession eight months from now... then it's just not worth it.

The job that I was mainly looking at, stressed about how its focus is on teacher development.

Yeah, that's not for me.

It talked about how in each centre, there are teachers, then senior teachers, then managers. A nice career ladder to climb.

Yeah, that's not for me.

Even if such a job would have fit my lifestyle, I certainly wasn't a good fit for them, having little desire to develop myself as a teacher nowadays. And so to keep my conscience clear, it wasn't in my interest to deceive a school into investing time and money into me.

I might not be too fond of my current job, but in the short-term at least, it's better the devil you know.

Which leaves me with three options on my list. And when I wrote the last blog, attending a programming bootcamp was by far the least likely of them.

It'd never even really been a thought of mine, and only came into my mind based on the article that I linked to in the last blog. And it was something I was thinking about for the distant future. It wasn't really something I was considering immediately.

But it just stayed in my mind. This article had quite a profound impact on my thought process. And if you're going to fuck something up... fuck it up properly.

The specific bootcamp mentioned in this article was 'Le Wagon', so researching into them was my first step.

And these bootcamps are neither cheap nor easy. About five times more expensive than my CELTA was, and probably about ten times harder. And my CELTA was pretty damn intense.

But I looked at 'Le Wagon' and its various locations around the world. I read other articles, searched-out stories of people who've done these bootcamps themselves. And it just got me thinking.

My motivation to get into programming started because of a frustration of iPhone apps that don't exist.

There are apps that I want, that simply don't exist. And I basically got fed-up of waiting for people to develop them.

'Fuck it,' I thought, 'I'll teach myself programming and make them myself.'

That was really it. I had a pipe-dream of making a living off the apps that I made, but that was all I ever really thought it would be. I didn't expect it to really come to fruition.

It would almost just be a hobby, and best case scenario, somewhere down the road, I'd start scraping together enough money from my apps to be able to live on.

My next choice would be to, many years down the road, work for someone else developing apps.

But the most likely ending was always that I'd have some fun and learn some new skills, but ultimately it'd never lead to a change in career.

It was always something to do in concert with teaching.

Teaching would be my main job, and app development would be my hobby on the side that may or may not yield a nominal income.

What changed that was having a new manager come in who was so restricting on my time, that I was no longer able to focus on learning app development at the same time as being a teacher.

That's what forced it into being a choice where I had to say... ok, if I can't do both, then do I want to do the job that's making me unhappy, or do I want to do the thing that I actually have an interest and a passion for?

So from that point forth, leaving this job has always been on my mind.

I'm a pretty simple man, and as a result only need a simple salary to survive.

My monthly outgoings, particularly since I stopped drinking, mean that I really don't need more than a part-time salary to live comfortably.

So why am I working so much? Especially when most of the extra work I'm doing now, is unpaid out-of-the-class stuff, just because my new manager's a dick with the schedule.

And my thoughts for leaving had always been to go into another job teaching elsewhere, just hopefully to one that offered me enough free-time to focus on programming on the side.

That's why whether or not I can get a German passport has been so key to my plans.

My ability to work in the EU visa-free would obviously impact my employability in Europe. And if I could get a job teaching English without any red-tape post-Brexit, when the number of native English speakers in the EU gets reduced from something like 80 million to about 5 million, then finding a part-time job would, I'd assume, be pretty easy.

If a company has to go through the cost and hassle of getting me a visa though, they're going to want me to work as much as possible. So it became quite an important thing.

I've never hidden my frustrations over the last six months about my lack of time available to teach myself programming. It really came to the forefront of my mind about a month ago now, when I met the girl who started in this job at the same time as me. And her advice to just quit and find a quiet corner of the world to focus on something I actually care about, really resonated.

And at this stage, my thoughts were really only about developing iPhone apps still; I didn't really have any grander goals.

As I said, I took a lot of motivation from the article that I linked to in the last blog though. And if you're going to do something, why not do it properly?

If you're going to get into programming, do it properly. Don't half-ass it as some hobby on the side of your actual job.

Instead blow all the money that you have in the world on going to some programming bootcamp, and seeing as you'll have no money left to live on, then you'll have to find a job afterwards, otherwise you'll become homeless and die.

That's the kind of motivation you need. When your back's against the wall and it's survive or flounder, that's when you really find-out what you're capable of. When there is no safety net left to catch you.

In the last blog I was talking about these bootcamps as my last resort. My backup option should all else fail.

Now the thoughts in my mind are... fuck it, why wait?

I've looked over my finances. I have the money to pay for one of these bootcamps, and pay my living costs while doing so.

But it wouldn't leave me with too much leftover, so I'd very much be putting all of my eggs into this one basket, but that's not always a bad thing.

That do or die motivation can help to get you where you need to be.

But it's a bit of a left-turn from why I originally got into this.

Developing iPhone apps for fun in my free-time... to going into programming on a grander scale, as the key part of my life and my living for the foreseeable future.

In truth, I probably don't really understand what I'd be getting myself into.

But considering how tight it would be financially, I don't want to waste money that I don't have to. And option number 4 of becoming a hobo and teaching myself programming, wouldn't be the most expensive thing in the world. But I certainly don't want to fritter money away unnecessarily. And if I am going to leave my job and commit to this... then commit to it properly.

I haven't made any kind of decision at all yet. And I don't really expect to until time forces me to do so.

Which is unfortunate, because if I could say for sure that I was leaving Bangkok in September, then I'd do things now like cancel my gym membership (which requires over a month's notice), and fully use the luggage allowance on my flight to take some things back to London with me, instead of just throwing them away when I leave my apartment.

Regardless of what I choose, I'm going to be on my flight to London in a couple of weeks. And I'm going to be on my flight back to Bangkok a month later. What I haven't decided yet is if I want to do what I originally said, and work the next eight months, get my next bonus, have some time to teach myself a bit more and think some things through... or do I want to just say fuck it, life's too short to spend another eight months in a job where I'm unhappy?

You're 32. You're almost 33. Time to start following your dreams before it's too late.

One thing that I do know, is that I don't want to be an English teacher for the rest of my life.

I might not have said that twelve months ago, but for various reasons, not least of which is my boss making this job so unenjoyable, I don't see myself as an English teacher when I'm forty.

Sure, I do enjoy parts of this job. But I don't think that I'd look back over my life from my deathbed, having spent spent the majority of it teaching English, and be happy with it.

I think that I'd look back and see wasted potential.

Plus, it's a dying profession. Falling student numbers are testament to that.

It's being replaced by technology, and more and more people are being brought-up on English and learning younger.

I still get the same enjoyment from teaching that I did when I taught my first class six years ago, and I certainly would miss it. But in the grand scheme of things, when I think about all that goes into this job, particularly with my current manager, that enjoyment is just a tiny fragment of a job that is otherwise somewhat miserable. It's just not what I want to do anymore.

And if it's not what I want to do anymore, then why would I want to do it for the next eight months?

The only reason... or the only two reasons, would be to save some extra money that I could invest into a bootcamp, and if I thought that I could self-teach myself programming in the mean time, then it wouldn't be time wasted.

But seeing as that depends on the whims of my boss; a man who's already proven himself to be somewhat vindictive in the way he schedules things, I frankly don't want to bank the six months of my life after I start work again in September, on his dispositions.

So whereas in the last blog, attending a programming bootcamp was more of an afterthought than an immediate possibility, now it's... I'm seriously considering it.

I don't want to make any kind of decision until the middle of August.

That would, in my mind, be reasonable notice to both my landlord and to my boss that I plan on leaving Bangkok.

They might disagree but... fuck it. And so I want to use that time to learn as much as possible.

I want to read about these bootcamps as much as possible, and learn as much as I can.

I want to learn as much about coding as possible, not only to give myself the best possible chance of being successful if I do attend one of these camps, but also just to make sure that this is something that I really want to do. Because right now... it's more just an idea than something that I have any real experience in.

I've learnt some things from my online course, but not enough to make me definitively say that 'I want to do this for the rest of my life.'

But as I browse over the 'Le Wagon' website now, Le Wagon Barcelona has a course starting October 15th, priced €5,900 (£5,218). Le Wagon London has a course starting October 1st for £6,500. Le Wagon Bali is October 1st for $7,000 (£5,275).

Le Wagon Casablanca is actually cheaper at MAD 54,000 (£4,319), and presumably has a lower cost of living. I kind of get put-off that they give a MAD 14,000 discount to women though.

This idea that men and women need to be equally represented in all fields, and that men and women deserve equal pay in all fields is absolutely absurd to me if I'm honest.

Your value is what you can negotiate, and if you have less bargaining power than someone else, man or woman, it's because you haven't differentiated yourself.

And this idea of discrimination in business, with men largely occupying the highest-paying jobs...

What have I said in the last couple of blogs?

Anything worth doing involves risk.

Men are just generally bigger risk takers than women. That's why men have the highest paying jobs, but also why so many more men are in prison, and so many more men are homeless.

Men are more willing to risk things. Some are successful and get the better-paying jobs, some fail and are on the bottom rungs of society. And this idea that women deserve equal pay just for being women, without having to take the risks where they'll lose everything if they fail, is a complete have your cake and eat it too concept.

That's not how the marketplace works, that's not how progression takes place.

I always say, and will probably say again in this blog, that immaturity is getting frustrated with the way things are and trying to change them to they way you think they should be, where as maturity is accepting what cannot be changed and making the best of it.

If you want a higher salary, man or woman, there's quite a clear path.

And instead of taking that path, this idea that individual people deserve equal pay to someone else simply because of their gender, is absurd. You're worth what you can negotiate, and that comes from how you separate yourself from others. From the risks that you're willing to take.

My favourite example of this, is that to my knowledge, the only sport in the world where a woman has been the highest paid athlete, is MMA. Cage-fighting.

Ronda Rousey was the highest paid competitor in the entire sport. A sport you would think of as being male-dominated and macho.

She didn't bitch about anything, she didn't complain that it was unfair, or that there was discrimination. She just made people care about her. She got people interested in seeing her fights. And she drew such an audience, that her bargaining power was greater than any other athlete, man or woman.

And in a sport as macho and as male-dominated as that, if a woman can become the highest-paid participant, then they can in any other field as well.

I see this with the BBC right now, complaints that male hosts get paid more than their female co-hosts for doing the same work, and I'm just dumbfounded.

Are you really stupid enough to think that someone is getting paid millions of pounds to read a tele-prompter. A chimp could do that.

It's about how much people care about them, how much people want to see and listen to them. And if you cannot negotiate a higher value of yourself, it's because no one cares. You can be easily replaced.

"But I read just as many words off the tele-prompter as he does. We do the same work."

How do you not get this? If you went out and differentiated yourself, and gave yourself more power, then you'd get the same salary. Instead... "the world is unfair, I'm being discriminated against."

Fuck off.

If the best person to do a job is denied that job for discriminatory reasons, then the company that is willing to hire them will gain a competitive advantage, and discrimination will be edged-out of the market.

That's the whole point of the market. The companies with the best business practices flourish. And that means hiring the best person, man or woman, black or white, to do any job.

Businesses that do will flourish. Businesses that don't will go out of business.

That's a slight over-simplification, but this idea that individual demographics need to be catered to and subsidised; this idea of businesses having to hire a certain amount of women, and a certain amount of minorities, only compounds the problem.

They will never escape the reality that they got a job based on their demographic, and it will just encourage discrimination from those more qualified who got shunned.

And this idea in 2018, of people being broadly discriminated against based on race or gender, when for eight years the president of the most powerful country in the world was black, and when the UK has a female prime minister...

Another example is the Udemy course that I'm taking.

The girl... yes, the girl, Angela Yu, who teaches this course, has to this point had 89,501 people download her course.

As far as I can tell, that's significantly more (more than double) than the next highest for an iOS development course.

At around $10 each, this course has generated almost $900,000 of revenue.

I did look-up the share of revenue that she takes, and it varies upon the medium through which each person signed-up, but being very conservative, she's made a quarter of a million dollars off this course.

That's on top of co-founding her own app development company.

How are you going to tell me that there's discrimination against women in this field?

Never once did I, or seemingly 89,500 other people, think twice about downloading this course, because it was taught by a woman.

If women aren't in a profession, it's because it's one that they aren't attracted to. And you shouldn't use financial incentive to change what people are attracted to, just because the current figures don't fit-in with your own view of what you think the world should be.

Are there individual cases of discrimination?

Of course, and there always will be.

Is society as a whole discriminating against you, trying to keep you down?

Stop using using your race or your gender to excuse your own failures. Own up to them and learn from them, and come back stronger, instead of blaming a make-believe discriminatory society.

It's why when I see Le Wagon Casablanca offering a MAD 14,000 discount to women I'm just... that's the opposite of equality.

I know that this is a muslim country, so there may actually be some legitimate discrimination but... this is an international course, taught in English. I would bet that few to zero of the attendees are locals.

That being said, I did note that it said 'self-identifying women...' so if I self-identify as a woman, I get a £1,120 discount?

I'd put on a dress for £1,120.

In Chengdu, China, they have a camp for just ¥36,000 (£4,074), and in Rio it's only R$16,500 (£3,223), although given that one of the reasons I left China was because of how retarded the Internet was, and there would perhaps be no time in my life where Google was more important, and given Rio's reputation for crime and the cost of my MacBook, I'd have reservations about either of those places.

Mexico City was actually the cheapest of the Le Wagon places that I checked (which was almost all of them), costing only M$80,000 (£3,185) and a course starting on September 17th.

I'd spend the money that I'd save on tuition, just to get my flights over there from Bangkok though.

I have a Hell of a lot to do before I get to the point that I'm willing to hand-over this kind of money anyway but... it's certainly in my mind. It's certainly not out of the realms of possibility that my last class as an English teacher is nine days from now.

The lease on my condo expires September 7th, so I'd have a little downtime after getting back to Bangkok, before heading elsewhere. But eight weeks in Barcelona sounds mighty tempting, even if I'd expect to see little of it other than a computer screen.

As I said in the last blog, my mind has been jumping all over the place.

Twenty times per day I change my mind on what I think I should do, and I've started to notice that different locations give me different feelings.

I've never really enjoyed the walk to and from my apartment.

To get anywhere, whether it be the park or the gym or the MRT station, it's ten-plus minutes walking down the side of a pavement-less road, dodging the traffic that's polluting the air.

It's hard to really arrive anywhere in a good mood after that.

No matter how happy I am when I leave, I rarely get to the gym or the train station feeling good. And at those times... what am I doing? Why am I here?

I have a similar allergic reaction to the teacher's room at work, and I don't really know what it is about it.

It's not like the other teachers aren't nice people.

Perhaps not all of them are who I'd choose to spend my time with, and I've seen many of their faces six days per week for the last three years. But that doesn't justify why I hate being in that fucking room.

It's a place that just seems to amplify annoyances.

Things that would be mildly bothersome in any other room in the world, are just infuriating in that teacher's room, and I don't really know why. I spend as little time in there as possible though, lately opting to just sit in my classrooms to do any work that I have to do.

For some reason I find any students that happen to be early to class, so much more bearable to be around.

But alas, I must spend some time in the teacher's room. That is where the computers are, so where I need to do my printing. And any time I am spending in that room, all I'm thinking is fuck... I can't wait to leave this job.

But when I'm teaching it's... I'm not going to say that it's a 'rush', as in a shot of adrenaline to teach. That would be a misrepresentation, although I do occasionally get flashbacks to how I felt before I taught my first ever class and I'm like... "fuck, there's twenty people all looking at me".

But there is still something oddly addictive about it. Especially when you have good students.

And when I teach a class, with good students who're fun to be around, and who want to learn, I can't help but think... I'm going to throw this away to look at a computer screen for the rest of my life?

To think back to that first ever class I taught, and to compare it to being as comfortable and as confident as I am now as a teacher, it's scary to think that I'm willing to turn my back on something that I'm so good at.

That sounds very arrogant, I know. But teaching is just something I'm naturally very good at.

Once I got over those initial jitters, I realised that I have a talent for being engaging to a group of people, all looking at me for guidance.

I did from the very first class I ever taught, and now, with six years getting comfortable at it, it's almost like it's my happy place.

Standing at the front of a class teaching, is kind of where I feel in my element.

As I've continually said, it's the other bullshit of this job that I want to escape.

My previous manager understood that. He understood the importance of minimising the planning and other unrewarding out-of-class work that goes into being good at this job.

If you want happy staff, you maximise the enjoyable parts of the job, and minimise the shitty parts.

My current manager doesn't bear such intelligence, hence why this job has become insufferable. But would I miss the actual teaching?

Fuck yes I would. I know that I'd miss guiding all these minds on a journey of learning. Twenty pairs of eyes, looking at me to lead them.

I'm just waxing poetic, but there is something very rewarding about teaching.

When one person learns from another person, it forges a bond.

I remember when I did my PADI in Colombia, I obviously couldn't speak to my instructor most of the time, because we were underwater. But still, he was guiding us. And for me, having never been diving before, I was seeing things that I'd never seen. And you feel affection towards anyone that guides you through something new.

Nowadays I'm on the receiving end of that. My job is to do what I need to do, to guide students to an ability of English that they haven't been able to reach before. And I even enjoy the psychological aspect of it.

Reading a class, seeing how they're reacting to something, figuring-out on the fly, what they need to do next.

It's perhaps the lack of appreciation of that is what you're there to do, which makes the teacher's room such a toxic place to be.

It's full of people serving their own needs, thinking that all they need to be good at their job, is to be liked.

No. Just no.

Comfort is not motivating. Comfort breeds complacency. You need to be uncomfortable to be forced into change. And the reward of knowing that you elevated someone is so much more rewarding than being liked, although they often go hand-in-hand.

But when I think over the last six years of my life, what are my achievements? Where have I achieved a sense of worthiness? A sense of being?

It's been from teaching.

What else worthwhile have I really done? What else have I done that's made the world a better place?

With my vegan diet, never owning a polluting vehicle, never littering, and extremely low consumption of goods, for example just wearing the same clothes for years on end, my negative footprint on the world is far smaller than many. So that's something.

So to be in credit, to have an overall positive impact on the world around me, I probably need to do less good than a lot of other people.

But apart from teaching, what is there that I've done over the last six years, that I can look back and hang my hat on?

There's nothing really.

This is me. This has been my identity for the last six years.

I should perhaps add the caveat that I've got a yoga/meditation playlist playing on Spotify right now, so perhaps that's bringing-out my inner hippy.

But the point that I'm slowly getting to, is that my desire to get out of here and make this huge change to my life tempers at some moments, but really peaks at others. Particularly at times I'm stressed.

And nowadays, that's most of the time because I generally find a shortage of hours in the day.

I've been able to find the time to exercise recently, and to cook my own meals everyday, whilst doing what I need for my job. But that's about it.

By the time I've been to the gym, cooked a lunch or two, run my errands for the day and done what I need to prepare for work, it's 3:30pm, and time to leave for work, and I'm normally rushed doing it.

And when you're rushed, little things stress you out.

Being in a rush to cook something, it's infuriating when you can't get that last bit of skin off the clove of garlic. Being in a rush to make it to a class at the gym, fat people walking slowly down the road makes you burst a blood vessel.

Get out the fucking way.

It also doesn't leave the time for... personality.

Instead of doing things in your own time, allowing you to add your own humour to them, or your own personal touch to them, and to enjoy the world around you, you just rush through things as quickly as possible.

And when I feel like that... man, I can't wait to quit this job.

And since the new manager started, days where I'm rushed doing everything, are more or less everyday.

I can't remember the last time I stopped and was like... wow, I have nothing to do. I can take my time and enjoy something.

At times like when I'm teaching though, and I'm enjoying teaching, I think... fuck, I'm really thinking of leaving?

But what's important, is not what I feel like when I'm teaching at work. It's not what I feel like when I'm walking to the gym, or waiting for the MRT.

Just because of how the stars have aligned, I'm going to have to make a firm decision in early-mid August about if I want to stay in this job and extend the lease on my condo. So I guess all that really matters, is how I feel once I get back to London.

And maybe that's the best place to have to make such a decision. Away from all these micro-things that can influence me, able to get some real perspective.

But having these ever-changing goals makes it tough to actually make any progress.

In the last blog, my mind was set on keeping-on teaching myself app development, so I was planning to use my holiday to work through a book.

Now such aspirations seem facile.

If I seriously plan on going to a programming bootcamp like Le Wagon, then sure, learning Swift would still be useful. But it probably wouldn't be the best use of my time.

Before that though, I had designs on getting other jobs teaching, so was using my energy for that.

Seeing as every week I have a different vision for my future, as soon as I've made up my mind for how to progress, the goalposts have moved and I'm focussed on something else.

I've really got to make a decision... the right decision, and just focus on it. Because this dilly-dallying is getting me nowhere.

And right now, the key decision for me is 'do I want to attend a programming bootcamp?'

I'm basically trying to find-out as much as I can about them.

A forum post that I started elicited the response that bootcamps "sell hope to people without any formal education."

That's perhaps true, but who's going to say that?

Probably someone with a formal education.

And sure, even I'm not naïve enough to think that an eight-week intensive course could offer the same education as a four-year degree.

However this is a field of which demand seems to be outstripping supply, and an eight-week foundation in programming could be enough for someone to give you a shot to learn on the job.

Would you start at the top? Would you start in the best job?

Of course not, but everyone starts somewhere.

My vision of how a bootcamp would be, is that it would probably be the hardest eight weeks of my life. I'd have to sacrifice my diet, my health and my hygiene just to make it through, and it would leave me with little more than a foundation of knowledge.

For the months or even years beyond that, possibly while working in an alternative profession to make ends meet in the meantime, I'd have to work tirelessly to gain further knowledge and build up a portfolio of things that I was able to do and create. And then eventually, somewhere down the road, someone would give me a shot.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And I'm just trying to decide if a bootcamp is the right first step.

I certainly don't see it as being much more than that in this journey.

I damn sure don't see a bootcamp as an alternative to a four-year university degree. But in this modern world, in an industry of ever-growing demand, there are more ways than university to become educated.

I found this paper on the barriers people face after attending coding bootcamps and... I'll be honest, I haven't read it fully yet.

I've had no time, but I'll get to it soon enough.

But if you look down at the graphs on the third page, they detail the paths that people took prior to and after attending coding bootcamps before getting full-time employment. And there are clearly people that find success this way.

On the other hand, I can search online to find just as many naysayers.

This is a post I found on Reddit of particular interest, talking about all the cowboys on the market, and the kinds of misfits who attend these bootcamps:

Beware the Bootcamps (and who succeeds in them)

So, I founded one of the first coding bootcamps in .NET and Java in the world back in 2013. Very selective, filtered for high aptitude, high drive, and high preparedness. Ran it for many years, > 90% placement rate, sold the business, and started work on my next venture earlier this year. Still in the education/training space, etc.

Since the time I've left the industry and in particular in my new venture I've been encountering a lot of bootcamp grads. As the bootcamp thing became a fad, more and more players entered the market, throwing out their shingle, and seemingly not caring at all about quality materials, quality students, or any of that.

I just need to rant for a minute that over the past few months I am absolutely disgusted by the lack of quality demonstrated by the grads I have been encountering. These people have been taken for a ride. I generally try to help people that come my way but there is literally nothing I can do for some of these people reaching out to me. 24 weeks and $12,000 in a 'web developer' camp and your best work example is a page that looks like 90s geocities website, uses no responsive techniques, no frameworks, no CSS3, HTML5, nada. Another who comes and visits for help, doesn't know what the command prompt is, sits there dumbfounded and doesn't even attempt to google it. Yet another who is utterly perplexed by a for loop. All of the "graduated" from camps (not my old one, thank God, or I'd really flip out).

Long story short, please, PLEASE, be very very careful when evaluating your training options. There are so many providers out there just looking to take your money and take you for a ride. So let me do a PSA about self-selection that my team used with great results.


You are hungry, you have persistence and grit. You are not easily discouraged, you enjoy challenges, and even if you do get frustrated the reward of finally getting it is a high. It's a feeling you chase. Because of your drive you feel no shame whatsoever asking questions, seeking resources, you're coach-able and you do not get defensive about feedback. If I tell you to do 50 push-ups, you do 70.


You are better than the average human at logic, organization, and abstract thinking. Go take some IQ tests, take some ACT or SAT math. You're comfortable with Algebra 2 concepts. You have strong pattern recognition skills, you may like games like sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches.

If you play video games like Zelda you can generally figure out gear puzzles and such most of the time without resorting to the internet for help. Etc. Etc. There's lots of indicators, but if you're not naturally curious, organized, and have trouble understanding how things work, not only is the field likely not a good fit for you, but a bootcamp will drown you.


Ok, so you have the drive, you have the aptitude, you also need to be prepared. This is where a lot of people who could learn to code professionally fall down. Much of these are basic computer skills. Like can you type? To this day I am still shocked at people who want to be in IT and can't type 40wpm. If you can't type 40wpm there is no way in hell you are going to keep up with an instructor or class and anyone assigned to work with you will suffer an aneurysm waiting for you to catch up.

Other basics, do you understand how your computer works? Can you navigate the file system? Do you understand what a directory is? Can you install software? Do you know the common keyboard shortcuts for your file system (alt-tab, etc). Can you identify the parts that make up your computer and what they do? If you want to be a web developer, do you understand conceptually how the web works (Requests, Responses, etc?).

Those basics I mention above, if you're missing most of them what it tells me is that YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR COMPUTER. If you're not interested in your computer, why are you trying to get a job in IT? Seriously, this field is about life-long learning and stuff is always changing. If you're not really interested in your computer just stop, go find something else to do, and please don't spend 5 figures attending a bootcamp, because they won't fix that and even if you luck your way into a job you won't survive the first round of layoffs in the next crash.

Beyond that, have you started learning to code on your own? And no, I'm not talking about codecademy badges, because those are beyond worthless. I'm talking about installing an IDE and building some simple applications locally. Don't jump into HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node, and god knows what else. Start in the console/terminal. Work with one language, ONE, no frameworks, basic code focusing on variables, conditionals, and loops. Build the guessing game, build tic tac toe, blackjack, whatever. Too many people get all excited about all the web things but it fragments your attention and learning.

Anyways, rant off, I had to get that out of my system. I was insulated in my own program before, but now that I'm out with companies and having random people reach out to me because of my history in the space. Thanks for letting me vent.

Perhaps surprisingly, that doesn't put me off. I can tick most of the boxes he says, particularly seeing myself as a very logically-thinking person. I can get lost in sudoku for hours (even though I haven't done for many years now). When I was playing The Talos Principle on my PS4, it became a three-week obsession until I'd completed it. I never once looked-up help online.

I genuinely believe that this is the kind of thing that my mind is made for.

In amongst the comments I read from someone who had attended a bootcamp, "I had to work with people who were just not putting in the extra time, don't know how to use a computer, and some who were straight up disruptive. Sometimes working with nobody would have been better than working with classmates.... It is a big negative working with those people."

I need to be very realistic about what I'd be signing-up for.

My dream scenario would of course be attending one of these camps with motivated and driven individuals, working for each other, helping each other.

But what is it I said earlier?

Immaturity is getting frustrated that things aren't how you want them to be. Maturity is accepting what cannot be changed and making the best of it.

Just being realistic, if you're attending a programming bootcamp in the first place, it's because you too want a shortcut into this field, and you don't have the time, the money, or the motivation to do a four-year university degree.

And although there would be some vetting of candidates, I highly doubt it'd be too stringent, because otherwise these bootcamps wouldn't make any money. So more than likely, if you're working with five people, then at least two of them are going to be dullards.

I remember this in university, at a time when I didn't possess the maturity to accept the way that things were.

My university, the University of Hull business school, had a large portion of Chinese students. Some could barely speak English, but they paid extortionate tuition fees, so they got in anyway.

And I remember being team leader of a group project, and we... and by we, I mean me, had to do the work of this one Chinese girl, whose English was terrible, and had no idea how to research or write in an academic way.

That sucked, but the reality is that if you're a driven and motivated person trying to change your life, you're highly likely to get grouped with people who aren't so driven, who haven't prepared themselves properly, and who don't have so much on the line.

So I'd go into this saying... ok, I might have to do the work of five people. I hope not, I really do. But I doubt that I'm going to find the next Bill Gates attending a programming bootcamp in Mexico City.

And being realistic about what I'd be getting myself into... that's important.

I think I have a realistic grasp on how hard these bootcamps would be, and what I could expect to learn from them, so the big question for me is really, where do I go from here?

A part of me thinks that I should just take the plunge and go for it.

Another part of me is very hesitant, and frankly fearful, of the many ways it could go wrong.

Another option is to do as I've said before, and take these next eight months to really make a go of it on my own, as I initially planned; by learning how to, and then making iPhone apps.

No amount of experience is a bad thing, and who knows, maybe I'll find success going it alone. Which brings me back to my biggest fear of all:

That my boss is a dick, and I just don't have any time over these coming eight months.

As I said though, a bootcamp is just one step of a thousand miles, and by no means guarantees any kind of employment afterwards.

There would probably be a lot of time beyond then of learning and portfolio building.

If I could successfully make my own iPhone app before even beginning I mean... it'd be something else to add to my CV, and a welcome start before getting there.

That seems the sensible option, but for the unpredictability of my boss.

Perhaps I should try to cool this head of steam that I've suddenly gained, and really take some time and think this through.


Although perhaps I should stop being so calculated for once.

Do you know what I realised this week?

Assuming I live to be eighty, there are only eleven more world cups until I die.

I have just eleven more world cups to leave my mark on this world. So maybe there just isn't time for this long, calculated approach. Maybe life's too short to play it safe, and I should just be saying fuck it... let's do this.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, according to the sign that someone left on the wall of my Airbnb in Chiang Mai, "You must do the thing that you think you cannot do."