S3E5: Getting Into Tech with Dev Bootcamp’s Director of Curriculum Steven Harms

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In today’s episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I talk with Steven Harms – the director of curriculum at Dev Bootcamp. Steven studied philosophy and management information systems at college and worked in engineering support before joining Dev Bootcamp as an instructor.

Steven developed an early interest in tech but didn’t enjoy the programming courses he took at college. It wasn’t until he worked in engineering support at Cisco that he really got into programming. He found himself dealing with the same problems and operations over and over again, so he used his tech skills to build time-saving solutions.

In our conversation, we talk about Steven’s passion for helping people into tech, his journey into the industry, and his advice for anyone learning to code. He explains what working as the director of curriculum at Dev Bootcamp involves, and what makes a good curriculum and learning platform. Overall, he reminds us that no one needs to learn to code alone.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

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Laurence Bradford 0:51
Hey listeners, welcome to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. I'm your host Laurence Bradford and today's episode I talk with Stephen Harmes, Director of Curriculum at Dev Bootcamp. Today, Steven talks about his career in tech, where he first had his start in 2000 at Cisco, where he ended up working for 11 years. Steven later became a Dev Bootcamp instructor. And then in 2015, became director of curriculum at Dev Bootcamp. Back in college, Stephen studied philosophy and management information systems. him and I connected over the fact that we were both troublemakers if you will in high school, or as he put it didn't show academic promise. for both of us we really came into our skin later in life. Anyway, I love this interview as well as Stephen's holistic approach of getting into tech. Remember, you can get Show Notes for this episode, plus more information about Steven at learntocodewith.me/podcast. Enjoy the interview.

Laurence Bradford 1:55
Hi, Steven, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Stephen Harms 1:57
Thanks so much for the opportunity to be here. Excited talk to you.

Laurence Bradford 2:00
Yeah, I'm so excited to talk to you. However, could you introduce yourself to the audience really quick?

Stephen Harms 2:06
Sure. Hello, audience. My name is Stephen Harper. I'm a technologist, rubeus, JavaScript, just linguist, student of classical languages. I love all sorts of things, all sorts of nerdery. So I hope this will be a good audience for, for what we talk about. Just from my background, I spent about 15 years in the Bay Area. I spent about 10 of those years working for Cisco Systems, and then transitioned to San Francisco, to my hand in startups. And then I was approached by a Dev Bootcamp to become a teacher. And after some time there, I've now moved into the more back office, curriculum design part of our organization.

Laurence Bradford 2:46
Yeah, that's really amazing. And, and now, just to clarify, I do live in New York. So yeah, and you moved right from the Bay Area to New York.

Stephen Harms 2:57
That's correct. That's correct.

Laurence Bradford 2:58
Cool. And when you started working For Dev Bootcamp, did you start working in San Francisco? Or was did you move like immediately to New York for the position?

Stephen Harms 3:08
No, no, I had the great pleasure of working as a teacher from January 2014. to October of I guess those I think, October of that year. So we started to transition me to our New York office. We hadn't we hadn't had a school at that point. But around, I guess, actually about a year and a half in, I was asked if I'd like to take the opportunity to try to help build our school in New York further, and I took that opportunity. I've never lived east of the Mississippi River. So I thought that'd be a rising broadening experience.

Laurence Bradford 3:44
Yeah, that's awesome. Well, and on the other hand, I've never lived like off the east coast. So I've always been either in like outside of Philadelphia, Boston, New York now. So maybe one day they'll get to, to move over to the west coast or something.

Stephen Harms 3:59
Isn't it? A beautiful spot. And I have many friends and many fond memories there.

Laurence Bradford 4:03
Yeah, that's great. So I'm gonna like rewind a bit because what I think is super interesting. Your undergraduate degree is in management information systems, which is obviously tech related, and also philosophy. So like, did you start off studying both in college like, like, yeah, how did that work?

Stephen Harms 4:25
Well, we can take a second to rewind maybe even further before that is I'll just be honest, I was I was a really bad high school student. I didn't find a lot in high school curriculum that really engaged me. And so I tended to blow off that steam or that, I guess that intellectual steam in ways that were not really sanctioned by by the the school board of the state of Texas, so I would tend to play a lot of video games. I tend to read a lot, but I did not show a great academic promise. In high school academics but what changed around I guess, to date myself thoroughly around the mid 90s is that I got a computer with a modem and this was before widespread internet access. So I would use a bulletin board systems and that kind of broaden my world and help me learn more about a larger world around me. And then eventually I was exposed to to internet and I was like what is that?

Stephen Harms 5:31
You know, it's strange for for people listening now but at a time the something something at sign something something calm was about as intelligible to the average population is like Egyptian hieroglyphics. So I saw it and I was like, what's that about? And eventually, I got my first internet account, which was basically you dialed up on a modem and tada, bash shell. So you literally just landed in the shell, and there was no guidance. You just kind of had to figure your way out and my mom It was great. She, she bought me, the whole earth internet catalog. And by Ed crawl is Oracle and Unix for Dummies. And between those two, I kind of found my way forward. And so in my life, I've always had this great love of technology as a way to expand social boundaries, to expand his social horizons to learn more about the world. But I've also had this kind of academic side as well. So, you know, for me the the idea that computer science is only ever like this kind of math based discipline is something that I just never learned. I always had experienced that technology was a thing that let me meet and interact with amazing people all around the world. And that part was what I loved about information systems, but philosophy is just where my passions truly are so.

Laurence Bradford 6:48
Yeah, that's so interesting. So when you got first got like connected to the Internet, and you're telling the story with your mom, guy, you like the book Unix for dummies? Was this while you were still in high school then or was yes. Okay, so me Got it. And side note, I think this is really interesting because as you mentioned, like you didn't you're like Oh, I didn't show it live academic promise in high school. I never talked about my high school years like the learner Colby listeners like know that I do mention college electronics studied history overall a very like successful college experience but actually similar similarly to you, I would say I did not show the most promise in high school and I think I had a lot of energy that wasn't channeled in the right places. And I think it's hard when you're in high school to like, have that structure for yourself because you're obviously you know, going through a lot of changes you're growing up, you're maturing, but I think I love to hear like that's what I love to hear but when people have similar stories to me cuz it's kind of like oh look like we like we made it despite, despite not maybe having the most promise in high school, but we still ended up doing good things.

Stephen Harms 7:56
Absolutely. You know, I think that's, you know, of us word a little bit. That's why I'm Interested in curriculum. That's why I'm so interested in teaching. You know, I learned six semesters worth of Latin in my 30s. You know, I, I've never stopped one to think about how to how we as humans have built the discipline of teaching and of sharing, and getting ideas across better, because I feel like in some ways, my academic success was I'll take full responsibility for my fate. But I think there were there were ways where students such as myself and many others could have been reached. And in some part, that's kind of why I stepped into the role of teacher later on my life. But I'm passionate about finding a way to reach people for whom the default mode of instruction hasn't been successful. And that's why I'm proud to be part of an organization that promotes accessibility, that, you know, wherever you are, whatever happened in the past, the past is history. And you can choose a tech career if you want it. And this is something that resonates for me personally.

Laurence Bradford 8:58
Yeah, I love that. I always like like a little like phrase, it's like on your past doesn't define your future or even your present like your past doesn't define your present. So that could be obviously applied to a tech career or many other things. But yeah, and that's actually I love chatting with like, learn to code me readers and listeners and some of the emails that I get that I don't know touched me the most, I guess are from especially girls like in high school that are early college, I just had one the other day of someone think she was a freshman studying computer science and she and they'll, you know, be asking for advice and saying, if you know, oh, should I leave the program and do something else and I always have, I'm like, No, like, like, you can do it. Like, like, like, it gets better. I promise like high school for me was like really terrible, but it gets so much better. And I'm so happy like every year from high school through college to today just keeps getting better and better and better. But as you said, like your face and your hands like you have total control over the decisions you make every day like where you put yourself where you work, the relationships you're in. And yeah after realizing that as I got older, it's it's definitely been things have been going better every year. Yeah. Um, yeah. So I love how you kind of tied like, tied everything together even though like philosophy and tech seem kind of unrelated and then teaching well, like, like how like the sharing of information has always interested you when it first started with the internet and now what you're doing today as far as like helping dead boot camp create curriculum for their programs and figuring out ways to reach more students and helping people get into tech.

Stephen Harms 10:36
That's absolutely the case. You know, I you know, think about more people in tech is that I remember very awkward moment at Ruby conference in 2010. You know, somebody stood up on stage and said like, isn't it great that we make so much money? You know, like, you can know Ruby for like four weeks and get an amazing job. up one on one in the city. Everyone kind of like chuckled and like kind of like was like yay, are we great and then the figure I can't remember it was I really wish I could. So I could, I could credit him then said like the strike is a problem is that we're extracting this this much wealth for, you know, a pretty cursory knowledge of how to make web forms. And not it's got real quiet. And we realized that in a lot of ways, the advantages we'd had had set up the fact that we are going to do exceedingly well. And it was kind of like a moment of like, Are we going to try to make keep this like a sealed club or not? And I got admitted that that thought question kind of haunted me for a number of years. And then when the opportunity to kind of step in and change, change the system to potentially bring more people and different kinds of people in space became evident that I could have a hand in that that was that was an amazing moment. And to realize that there are people you know, some individuals I first students, that for started when I was interviewing at boot camp told me the stories you know, sold the car, leverage credit card debt, not that bad. You know, wife was working and covering the kids while they're in school to find people who were so committed that they're willing to go all in was that was a profound and humbling experience. And I just hope that I can, I can honor their their sacrifice and their commitment and provide them an effective education that changes changes their outcomes, I want to see their lives improved. And, you know, that notion of being available more often for different types of people is something that I feel like I owe myself for assistance of both the nation and the planet.

Laurence Bradford 12:40
Yeah, no, that's, that's so amazing. Like, and as I think, you know, like, I also want a bit differently work in education. I work for an edtech startup called teachable and it's like a platform like a CMS to make courses and which is also very rewarding aside from everything I do with learn to code with me and Forbes, but there's nothing better like there's no more satisfying and seeing, like the impact you have on someone's, you know, career choice. And I mean, a career choice is like, is huge, right? Like to look at a person, you know, making the decision to go to, you know, get bootcamp or not or to go to you know, another program or not, and get into tech, it's like it, can you totally impact people's lives. And, yeah, it's like, the most gratifying thing I think of everything I do is getting to talk directly with people and seeing how their lives have improved after deciding to go into tech, and especially someone who is very hesitant thinking maybe tech like wasn't for them. Like, you know, as you mentioned math early on, I hear that a lot from people like, Oh, I'm really bad at math, like, Can I can I learn to code? But yeah, seeing people like that make it completely gratifying. So I want to switch gears just a little bit because you were working at Cisco for like 11 years. And so I'm wondering, because you didn't exactly study like you know, computer science in college. Like Did you take programming courses though there?

Stephen Harms 13:59
Oh, yeah, that's That's an interesting sort of thing that happened. You know, I guess for listeners, you know, the thing I'd say is that you can you can enter career in programming and technology from from a number of different ways.

Stephen Harms 14:13
The way I kind of entered is that is that through the MIT program, I had to take a bunch of programming courses. And I'll be honest, I was really underwhelmed, you know, to take like, Visual Basic for Applications and Java three or three, you know, into the classic recursion challenges. And I was just, I was just really uninspired. In programming, I just thought, like, in my mind, like programming was like this thing that like, you know, people in cube farms were going to be forced to do and, you know, that's not fun. And I kind of had this very instrumentalist view of it. It's like, I would learn it, and I do it. And I'd be able to be good at it because I had to, it's kind of like, like knowing how to chop tomatoes. If you want to be a chef. It's like, No, I want to make great dishes. I Don't want to be an expert at like, this raw kind of rote task. I guess that's how I viewed it. Which is so strange though, because I love it so much. It's hard to imagine that my mind was there at the time. But yeah, the I definitely had to take the those, those experiences. But where I actually wound up kind of getting my foot in the door at Cisco was that I took an internship to basically do support at Lotus in Austin, where I went to school, and it was definitely a is a support gig. And it was for a product with their end of life thing.

Stephen Harms 15:39
And, you know, I learned a lot about how to take care of customers. I learned a lot about how to communicate with people who were frustrated. I had a great boss there. I had a great team, there was a great professional environment that actually was was really really diverse. I loved working with with that team there. I didn't realize that as time would go on. That was a rare sort of special moment. But I loved working there and I worked there part time through the year 2000 up into my graduation when I left. And I've nothing, nothing ill to say of Lotus or IBM, I think they treated their interns and, and staff wouldn't during my era just just really, really well. They really wanted us to love being part of a big team. So I was really honored by that. But when I got my interview at Cisco, that experience, I think, worked for them a lot. And what I was initially hired to do at Cisco was engineering support.

Stephen Harms 16:32
So basically, because engineering for Cisco is so important. The engineering team had their own private support unit, which was very highly technically oriented. It wasn't so much like, hey, my, my password doesn't work or something like that. It was much more like, hey, the disk, the remote disk mounting system is broken and I can't build my product. And for an engineering firm like Cisco every minute, we're products Not being built and shipped costs. So I was hired to do support in that very highly technical environment. And what happened is that the skills that I mentioned earlier the basic Unix food, the Unix for dummies skills, came back in big time. And it was in that environment with paired with the ability to do customer support that I was initially successful in my career. And eventually that success kept going on and on. But what happened is, I noticed that certain problems kept cropping up or I noticed that certain complex operations had to be taken in order to fix a system for for a user. And so I kind of, you know, opened up VI and started pecking away at Perl, Perl, the programming language. And over time, I built up enough of a repertoire that, that I had built enough solutions to kind of advance my reputation in more and more pieces were granted to me.

Stephen Harms 17:51
And so I got into programming away from that academic thing that I did like I got into it in the sense of of really being excited about it as a thing that allowed me to delight my user base and to create more time in my day for, for doing other things. So my programming skills started off just very instrumental. It's like, Can I make it do this? Can I make it find this thing? And over time, that instrumentalists instrumentalism just created a bunch of hacks, and then had to learn the discipline of like, oh, how do you write clean, communicative, supportable code. And that was that was a journey I undertook while I was employed there. And that's a that's a journey that I'm still on, is trying to figure out how to write the cleanest, most elegant implementations of things. But you don't have to start with writing great solutions to you know, code or wall challenges is that maybe the way you you get in is just by subtle degrees from a tech adjacency. And that's fine too. So if it's DevOps, if it's QA, if it's testing, whatever it is, like, you can take what what resonates with you And add programming to it and and have a wonderful programming career.

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Laurence Bradford 21:20
Yeah, I love that so much. And I think so many people at least I know I was one of them when they first started learning how to code. I only thought like, the only option for me was to become a software engineer, right or like a, you know, full stack developer. But there are so many places as you just mentioned, a few like QA DevOps, customer support, your role engineering support, which I don't ever even think I heard of, like, like support just for engineering, where tech skills can come into play. And that was something I even learned more or realized more when I started my full time job. Just for instance, seeing some of our like Customer Care agents, some of the more technical ones like going into the console, and like trying to debug something for a customer like writing, you know, the bug tickets. It can, especially if you're working for a software company, or Well, yeah, like a, like a sass company, it can really come in handy I think in pretty much any role having these tech skills. So again, thank you so much for sharing and I'm probably jumping ahead a little bit, but when slash How did you first get into Ruby then?

Stephen Harms 22:22
Um, you know, it's, that's an interesting story is that, like I mentioned that I was using Perl at Cisco and I had a big, huge love of Perl. You know, for a person to have a spare time linguist. Working at Pearl is just fascinating. Larry wall created pearl is also an amateur linguist. And, you know, there's some some wonderful expressiveness in Perl. But what I found is that I couldn't get peers to Support Portal is that they'd find its, its style to confusing and I'll take some amount of responses to that. I don't think I necessarily wrote the cleanest code. Back in the day, but it was just very clear the pearls, pearls supportable language was was was frustrated. And the other part is that the next revision of Perl had been promised for a long time and hadn't shipped. And I believe that's actually still the case, don't think pro six is out yet.

Stephen Harms 23:20
It just became obvious that Perl was not the right one for the company's interests to bet to bet on. And so I was looking for a replacement that would have a cleaner syntax, more familiarity, or I guess more more readability, a wider familiarity and in the community. And so you know, circa, let's say, maybe 2002 or so. I think that's about right. It seemed a pretty even bet between between Ruby and Python. I read a Python book and kind of got bored. But then I picked up the Ruby pickaxe book and there was something about Ruby that seemed like joyful, and I connected with it and I loved the idea of blocks. Ruby, I love the idea of parentheticals being being moved into separate realities. And that's effectively what a what a block in Ruby is. for somebody who thinks parents medically and talks parenthetically, that was just something that just just harmonized with the language in me. And so I started exploring Ruby sands rails, and then right, not too terribly long after that, in the parlance of the wrappers, rails, one dropped the famous DHH build a blog and like, trivial amounts of time shift, and as somebody who who could do the equivalent in Perl, I saw just how quickly DHH did that in the video. Prior that with textmate editor, being able to do these snippet completions, he did a phenomenal amount of work that was clear, readable and powerful in in something like 10 minutes. And I think for programmers of that era, you know, be the Java or, or Perl or even higher everybody's job has kind of hit the floor and realize that DHH really leveled up the industry. And that was kind of where I made that full on commitment that I would take Ruby and Rails on, take their banner and see and kind of follow them to see what they can teach me and they've helped me quite a lot.

Laurence Bradford 25:19
Yeah, that's that's such an interesting story too, because it's, it's kind of like came to Ruby through practical reasons or like or reasons for your job where you're trying to find a better solution. And then, yeah, you came upon that and sorry, correct me if I'm wrong, but does this does Dev Bootcamp instruct to Ruby?

Stephen Harms 25:38
We instruct in primarily Ruby and JavaScript?

Laurence Bradford 25:42
Okay, so you're still like us, you know, side projects or anything aside, you're still working in Ruby lamb by Korean curriculum at Dev Bootcamp.

Stephen Harms 25:52
Absolutely. I you know, I will never stop programming. You know, in my opinion, you know, programmers have existed forever. It's the question of, you know, how we manifest that desire. It's the same desire that built, built the pyramids and built the assembly line. That's what programming is. Whether or not it's manifested on a computer with a programming language is just a sort of interesting curlicue of our time in history. So, yeah, we still I still write Ruby a lot. I still read a lot. I'm working slowly but surely through pietersite ELLs practical, common list. I never want to stop learning and opening myself to new languages. I feel like I gained so much from it.

Stephen Harms 26:36
Over Ruby or senior Dev Bootcamp, we still primarily use Ruby as the language of instruction. The main virtue there is that if I have a syntax, which is confusing, while I'm teaching individuals concepts that are confusing, then I think I don't necessarily serve the communication the concepts well, so by and large, we've our curriculum not focused on language capabilities. As much as it is, do you have a grasp of the problem and the nature of the solution, that's, that's what I want to communicate. I also want to be responsive to what market demands are. But I find that if a student doesn't understand or an individualist understand, you know, why do we persist things? Or why do we structure data or why HTML? Or why ORM It doesn't matter if they've learned it in, you know, I don't know, Phoenix or rust, or it doesn't make a difference. What's important is that you gain the sort of transcendent structures of of why in programming, and then it's very easy to map those transcendent structures into particular instances using different languages. So, you know, I still write code, I still love code, I still think a lot about code, I still think a lot about cross communication in code. And in the I try to bring that I don't say attention but that excitement that that knowledge and that appreciate of the opposition of ideas. We try to bring that into the the curriculum that we created a boot camp.

Laurence Bradford 28:04
Yes, that's fascinating. And I Okay, so I'm glad we kind of ended on dev boot camps. I want to talk about that a bit more specifically, what your day to day looks like as the Director of Curriculum or as someone who is working on creating the curriculum, because, you know, I think a lot of us think about all the online courses or in person courses we create in the teachers. But again, at least for me, I never gave much thought to like the curriculum that goes into these courses until later. So I would just love to hear like, Yeah, what your day looks like as a director of curriculum.

Stephen Harms 28:37
Well,I have a lot of meetings, be honest. And, and I have to put all my a lot of my credit onto the onto the teaching staff is that is that we work as a national team to put different experiences together. In terms of you know, hey, I think this challenge is confusing. I think the language here is precise. So we bring a lot from from the virtual team perspective at creating the curriculum, we've now been iterating on it, you know, as a team for, for, you know, years, you know, we pioneered the space. So I think we have a certain level of proven pneus and, and familiarity with it. So I think that's so trying to facilitate that discussion is a big part of my job. The other part is that Deb boot camp is licensed by by boards of education in our various states. So we have an obligation to our regulatory entities to make sure that what we teach, we actually measure that we teach, that we teach it responsibly, that we teach it in the sequence that we're teaching it. Other other institutions that have not pursued licensure. And you know, for me, I believe that that's, that's an important part of our brand is that, you know, we're trying to engage with the states and make sure that boot camp style education is something that our country can continue to rely on. And I hope to see to see more offerings. So, you know, I think that that commitment isn't something that's important to me. So making sure that we're in guidance with that is, is is critical, but also recognizing that how we scope, you know, what we teach and how we sequence or do we teach it, how we scope and sequence our work is, is kind of part of the magic of our experience. And then lastly, the curriculum can create a community or it can fail to create a community.

Stephen Harms 30:38
You know, I've used a number of online learning platforms, and in several them I just, I felt like I didn't have a community behind me like if I got stuck, the honor code would prevent me from asking a question and it really just kind of killed my joy from it. It didn't allow me to kind of like be like, Hey, can you show me your solution? I'm, you know, I'm blowing the memory allotment. Can you teach me a little bit We weren't able to build that community of trading ideas and it really hurt my, my understanding and my pace of learning. So it's really important for me at boot camp is that the curriculum? And I mean that both in like technical skills metacognitive skills, communication team building skills, is that do you? Or do we create a community that that makes it great for learners? And do we prime are our graduates to be agents of creating that kind of community in whatever workplace they enter? You know, I've worked in I've, I've been exposed to situations where there's been a level of team dysfunction. I've been lucky. I've never been in a toxic team environment, but I've definitely seen some dysfunctions. And I think that you know, if you ever see that that wonderful kind of team dynamic like I described during my internships in my early days in college, you want to figure out how to help people create that and I think Dev Bootcamp, you know, something unique that we have is that focus on community curation, and kind of like trying to like to spark and pass on the torch to the people who are going to go back out. So, you know, for curriculum, I'm looking at scope sequence. are you addressing the right topics? Are we fitting the market? And are we are we passing the torch of a generation of software developers who will be emissaries for for a better quality of human interaction.

Laurence Bradford 32:27
So I know you guys have multiple Dev Bootcamp locations across the country. You guys I assume are teaching the same curriculum at fish look, okay, cool. And then do you guys only have one course offering like the curriculum that you work on? Is it just for your like main program or do you have other courses too, that you offer like that? Each have their own curriculum,

Stephen Harms 32:48
it's a fascinating push pull between between our sites and the national organization is the our our local sites can can lens into what their their local market might need. And say like, oh, it turns out that we need you know, we'd like to serve an intro on some topic or we'd like to do this community event. So that kind of variation is is typically served by the local market not out of out of my role. So for example, you know, an Austin they may have, I don't know, it sounds like maybe like tacos and whiteboarding. They may have that as a regular weekly workshop that isn't mandated by me. That's something that I, I'm glad that we let the creative genius of our of our local agents make the call on. From a national perspective, we do have one product, which is our full stack web developer program. The approach we have there is recognizing that the the fundamentals of what we're teaching are never going to go away, never going to go away in the foreseeable future. And we focus on clean code object orientation, working with databases, the HTTP stack. and delivering projects as a team. And those fundamentals don't change whether you're using an iPhone or I don't know, whatever the latest JavaScript framework is, or, or if you're working on an Internet of Things device, at the end of the day, the dominant default communication mode is HTTP.

Stephen Harms 34:21
The dominant technologies tend to, or the dominant languages tend to be something object oriented ish, or JavaScript. And we cover both of those bases. So our goal is to provide kind of a, if you will, a stem cell education, which when paired with an individual's ambition and sense of direction, can can drive them into the right kind of role where they'll flourish.

Laurence Bradford 34:43
Yeah, that's, that's great. And I think it's really awesome that you allow, like the locations to kind of with like the smaller workshops and other community events to have control over what they what they do, because as you said, like it's definitely going to be probably different from location to location. And there may be a different community that wants to see like an event more about like web design or UX or something, whereas another may want something on like using the command line. Absolutely, yes, that's really that's really neat that you do that. I also think it's really cool that you do have that like one core curriculum that is taught at every location. And I think that, yeah, that's, that's kind of like the hallmark, I guess, of like, the Dev Bootcamp experience. Is that is that like, main curriculum there? So we are running low on time. And I want to ask this before we wrap up, seeing you have so much experience in the industry at both, you know, working as a software developer, and then now helping people learn how to become a software developer. What advice do you have for a person who is learning on their own? So after college, you know, coming from an unrelated career, perhaps? Yeah, what advice would you have for them?

Stephen Harms 36:00
Yeah, just just I have like huge, huge love and compassion for individuals doing that. I taught myself Ruby at what I call 5am Bootcamp, which is that you know, I got up at 5am. And I'd sit in my apartment in Austin and work my way through the pick books, pick x book. We are living an amazing time where there are sources like like yours, that help create communities and help people realize that they're not alone in doing that. So the first thing I think, is just just realize you're not alone. There are tons of resources, there are big hearted people who want to engage with you. And if you seek them with earnestness and humility, they will help you out. I think that's the first thing is that realize that you're not alone. The second part is that I don't mean to sound like to terribly get off my lawn here, but we spend a lot of time losing, losing it in very frivolous activities. And, you know, I ride the subway and I see that most people are screaming Playing or playing infinite runner games, or, or whatever it is, if you add up all the 52nd, you know, five minute interactions that you have with the latest listicle, or some alert that repeats news that you already know, you, if you add that up, you realize that you actually spend a lot of time incorrectly if you actually want to change, change your life and change your livelihood.

Stephen Harms 37:24
So I would encourage you realize that that you now have the capacity of carrying the sum total human knowledge in your pocket. And so instead of opening up Facebook, I might urge you to open up iBooks and an open up open a book, you say, Well, I can't really get into the mode of reading this and coding that between, you know, 100 and 10th, Street and Time Square, But lo and behold, you can you can you can read it. You can increase familiarity, you can read a paragraph and kind of imagine how it might work. You can you can engage with material. So that's a take advantage of your time. Be the master steward, have every minute of your day of your life and take control of it and don't don't give it away to people who want to harvest your eyeballs for advertising revenue, give it give it to yourself first and and make that commitment. So I guess it's you know, commit and take advantage of the available time and also take take advantage of the network of practitioners who want to help and love to help.

Laurence Bradford 38:24
Awesome, Steven I love that so much especially the the point about taking advantage of your time because you're so right, there's so many like minutes in the day or another one and I'm so guilty of this. I'm watching Netflix and falling into like the series. I mean, I always try to give myself like one day a week where I completely turn off even though I'm watching Netflix, but I mean from work I just lay on the couch all day and like watch a series or something but at the same time there's there's lots of other times during the day during the work day where you could probably be making a better use of your time. But anyway, finally, where can people find you online Steven.

Stephen Harms 38:57
Um, so if my last didn't just make you write me off as a complete curmudgeon. You're welcome to find me on on Twitter @SGharms. On GitHub, user ID SG Harms. You can visit my website which is very, very occasionally maintained, which is stevengharms.com. And if you if you have questions about Dev Bootcamp or curriculum design, feel free to reach me at steven@devbootgame.com.

Laurence Bradford 39:28
Awesome. Thank you so much again for coming on.

Unknown Speaker 39:30
Thanks so much. It's been a real pleasure and I wish everyone the best in their journey of uncovering new aspects of reality by studying programming.

Laurence Bradford 39:43
I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Again, the Show Notes for this episode can be found at learntocodewith.me/podcast. If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the Search icon in the upper navigation and type in Stephens name he spells first name like S-T-E-V-E-N and his last name, H-A-R-M-S. If you're thinking about learning how to code or just getting started, make sure to visit my website learn to code with me where you can find even more awesome code related content, like my 10 free tips for teaching yourself how to code. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I'll see you next week.

Key takeaways:

  • There’s no single route into tech. You can build a career in the industry in a number of different ways.
  • You don’t have to start out writing clean and elegant solutions to problems. Start by figuring out how to fix problems and learn to write clean code later.
  • Tech skills are useful for lots of different careers. You can build a great career by taking whatever you’re interested in and combining it with programming.
  • When learning to code, it’s more important to understand the fundamentals than any individual programming language. You can apply those fundamentals to a variety of situations and languages.
  • There are loads of people and resources out there that can help you learn to code. You’re not alone.
  • Take advantage of the little moments. Instead of scrolling through Facebook, read a book. Give that time to yourself rather than to advertisers!

Links and mentions from the episode:

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