What I Did With 3 Months Off
The idea to take 3 months off came from the desire to attend a coding bootcamp wayyy back in about November of 2016. TBH, I had not heard of coding bootcamps until I heard about them on a tech podcast. I thought the idea was cool so naturally I looked into them.
The more I looked into bootcamps, the more I came to realize two things: 1. They were expensive. 2. They were geared primarily at people who had never coded before. Regarding point number 2, a lot of the coding bootcamps marketing teams will tell you that they are geared for all levels of coders (and to some degree, I'd agree). However, after doing some research and checking out the graduates' final projects, I realized that I could probably (with some time) create the same kinds of projects without too much instruction using my existing skills and augmenting missing blocks of knowledge.
Totally doable, right? Well, actually, yes! It worked! Just this past month I secured a position at Benevity as a Software Developer and I couldn't be happier. I'm really pleased with how things panned out.
When I made this choice I wasn't starting from scratch. I actually had several years of developer experience under my belt (so the risk wasn't as great as someone with zero experience doing the same thing). However, I was starting to see the writing on the wall. Jobs (front-end and backend) were starting to ask for skills/knowledge that I didn't have. The tech stack at my previous position was old and it was hard to initiate changes to it in order to innovate (and learn new things). This is a recipe for career disaster in the tech world. Since there was little opportunity for growth, it was time to move on. I took the leap (I quit) and did not look back.
I wanted to share a little bit about what I studied and how I got motivated. Staying on task while self educating was a really hard thing for me. Well, I think it would be a hard thing for anyone - but it felt like it was extra hard for me, personally.
I realized that there were some medium-large tasks that I wanted to accomplish also. I decided that, for those tasks, I would port them over to a Trello-style project board on GitHub: https://github.com/jonathanbell/notes/projects/1
I started making small apps - just silly ones really, in order to learn a new technology or framework or even a new language. Obviously, it worked out and I'm really pleased with the results of my sabbatical.
You may notice that at the time of this writing (Dec 2018) that a lot of the tasks on my project board are still not done. This is because I bit off wayyy more than 3 months worth of work/study. I get excited about new things and (clearly) I scheduled too much work for one person to do in 3 months time. I do, however, have the personal goal of completing all of the items on my project board. I will have to be patient though as the lion's share of my attention will now be devoted to my new job.
If you are a junior or intermediate coder considering a sabbatical, feel free to reach out with any questions about my experience.