A brief encounter with self-esteem and continuing education.
IAM probably not the only person with coding-related PTSD. During college, I struggled with programming courses, especially when building programs with Java. Frustrated with my inability to just get it, I dropped the course before the end of the semester. I surely would have bombed the final, and I just didn't have the bandwidth with my other courses ongoing. I told myself I could never be a programmer, let alone a successful one. I simply didn't have the right hardware. At the time, I didn't know I had a golf-ball sized tumor in my brain, but nearly 10 years afterward I'm not convinced it played a major part in the challenges I faced in that class.
My anxieties about coding are a consequence of my prejudices about what academic performance and learning should be, and my failure to succeed in an academic setting that was otherwise so comfortable.
Despite my discomfort, I decided to check out some coding resources online the other day, for no discernible reason (other than my desperation to beef up my resume and hopefully land a job before I go broke during a pandemic).
I found Google Cloud Learning while browsing online courses and training resources, and decided I would give it a try. There are a couple intro courses available without charge, and a month-long trial period for signing up that seemed generous compared with other course offerings online. I entered my first "lab," a single-use instance of the Google Cloud Console that tests your progress in completing coding tasks. I had never used Google Cloud services before, but Google's platforms are very familiar to me from my experience working in GSuite, and there are a lot of structural similarities and cross-over between them (I would learn why, later during a course on Kubernetes). The layout of the console is not too different from any settings/back-end service from Google, whether you're changing Gmail settings or an Admin for a GSuite organization, but there is a major advantage in the tools and resources available on Google Cloud that aren't accessible on their other platforms. The familiar Google Settings are available in the top of the screen, but a command-line system can be activated, occupying the bottom of the window. With the command-line, a programmer can code with GCloud commands, and with the proper resources you can create, modify, and deploy systems.
When I finished the first lab, I felt such relief. After years of telling myself I lacked the chops, I was able to get through a project (albeit a small one) with minimal pain or suffering, and in a quarter of the time allotted! A weight I carried for so long finally began to lift. I figured I should keep going, at least during the first free month. By the end of the next day, I had already earned a badge and was on my way to a second. I expected to struggle, but the thorough guides and videos for each lab were very helpful. Learning something new felt great, and it definitely felt different to be doing it on my own, without other structured coursework to interfere with timing and what precious little attention I have to offer.
Evaluating the price, only $1/credit, or a $55 monthly subscription, and the scope of what Google Cloud Learning covers, introductory through advanced learning projects, I felt it's worthwhile. The topics range from creating Virtual Machines and establishing server connections to cloud computing and artificial learning. Just as interesting as the coding and performance is all of the jargon that was seemingly designed to be Byzantine and occult, masking the magic of computational power. Despite appearances, the systems in place are intuitively structured, and anyone familiar with the physics of electric circuitry or plumbing will recognize how data flows through the network. Containers and apps, arranged and duplicated when necessary, seem to make much more sense to me than bottom-up designing.
I didn't know what to expect about coding and my own abilities, and I still have a lot to learn, but I am excited to have a platform that makes sense to me on a fundamental basis. I will probably follow-up with my progress down the road, but first I should get back to the labs.
If you would like to try Google Cloud Learning at Qwikstart or learn more about the training courses they offer, visit https://google.qwiklabs.com/