Kelly Helton, October 12, 2017 | 3 min read

When was the last time you were a newbie?

A few months ago I got home from work, threw on my workout clothes, and headed out the door for my evening run.

This is my favorite time of the day—quiet, alone time for decompressing and just letting my mind wander. Something had felt off for awhile. I was not quite bored, but lately life had seemed predictable, and I didn’t feel inspired. I have felt this feeling many times throughout my life. “As a matter of fact,” I thought as I ran along, “this feeling is exactly what got me into running.”

You see, it is very easy to become comfortable. Once you’ve been at it for awhile, everything seems to align and you’re cruising. You’ve been working hard, and it feels good to finally know what you’re doing. Maybe you’re even the one giving the advice now! Of course, this feeling is nice for awhile, but I’ve found that it is at times like these that I need a spark to reengage. A surefire spark is forcing myself to be a complete newb.

Trying something new is downright scary. To know absolutely nothing about something and jump right in takes a lot of courage. But, from experience, I know the rewards are great. Training for and running my first half marathon was incredibly intimidating, but learning, making progress, and meeting members of the wonderful running community was so rewarding that I’ve gone on to run marathons. It is funny to think that what used to be so scary is now such a rich, essential part of my life.

As you can guess, coding was my most recent spark. I realized that while I use the Web everyday, I really had no idea what is going on behind the curtain other than that there were languages being spoken that I didn’t understand and that knowing these languages is a skill that is becoming more and more desirable.

Enter Tech Talent South. Signing up for the Part-Time Code Immersion Class was nerve-racking in itself. “Can I really do all this in just 8 weeks?” I thought as I looked at the syllabus. “I don’t even know what half of these words mean!” Immediately following the first class, I was terrified and had convinced myself that there was no way I was going to be able complete the homework assignment. It may as well have been written in Dutch (and I don’t speak Dutch). But I sat down at the computer, calmed myself down, and somehow successfully completed the work.

Just like it is easy to become comfortable, it is easy to forget—forget not only the classic beginner negative feelings of intimidation and fear but also the cathartic aha moments, the satisfaction of finally “getting it”, and, finally, the realization that someday you could do all of this on your own.

Thanks to our excellent instructor and community manager, as the course proceeded, I quickly began to experience more of the latter feelings as we actually created our own projects and code. I’m now one week out from the end of the course, and I’m amazed by the things I’m seeing from a new perspective. I’m looking at the Web and apps completely differently with a more informed eye, and I’m even getting ideas of my own. I’ve found that I’m particularly interested in web design.

Even though the course is over, the opportunities for learning aren’t. The takeaway that Tech Talent South has left me with is that that there is a rich, welcoming coding community with a wealth of networking opportunities and abundant learning resources. From this point forward, it’s all about the time and and effort I put into it.

I’m still a coding newb, but I’m not scared to be one anymore.