By: Chris Richter
I enjoy graphic design. But as my career as a designer evolved, I found that the portion of my job I enjoyed most revolved around working with software developers to bring my designs to life. Over time, in an effort to make their jobs easier and satisfy my own curiosity, I began to teach myself HTML and CSS, making sure that my designs, and the development of them, were pixel-perfect. That experience of making code work, of making a browser and do what I told it to do, rewarded me with a sense of satisfaction I realized I’d been missing.
In working with HTML and CSS, however, I knew I was experiencing only the tip of the iceberg. So I began reaching out to developers in the area and professionals engaged with the tech community for coding school recommendations. Charleston boasts several coding schools, but I kept hearing about Tom, Trip, and JRS Coding School.
One developer mentioned JRS Coding School’s full-stack curriculum as being particularly important to consider. Most schools, he said, teach you either the front end or the back end of development, and those isolated positions really only exist at larger, more established organizations. Here in Charleston, there are a lot of startups and smaller companies popping up, and they are looking for developers who can work throughout the entire stack.
That idea really stuck with me. So I reached out to Tom and Trip to learn more about the curriculum at JRS Coding School. I also learned about Coffee and Code, a free event JRS Coding School periodically hosts where students can learn some basic coding.
“Most schools, he said, teach you either the front end or the back end of development, and those isolated positions really only exist at larger, more established organizations. Here in Charleston, there are a lot of startups and smaller companies popping up, and they are looking for developers who can work throughout the entire stack.”
The Coffee and Code event seemed like a great opportunity to experience the JRS learning environment firsthand and get a better sense of what this course would feel like on a daily basis, so I went. After a short introduction, we jumped straight into coding, which we continued for a few hours. Tom and Trip introduced us to new technologies, like the program Code Pen, which is great for mocking up and working with code, as well as a CSS library called Tachyons.
One of the things I appreciated about Coffee and Code is that I didn’t leave feeling overwhelmed. There is so much to learn when it comes to coding; concepts like APIs and databases play an important role. But I don’t think you can convey that information in a way that makes sense to students during a three-hour window. Instead of trying to accomplish the impossible, Tom and Trip did a good job of teaching aspects of coding that students could comprehend during the event. We even built a sample webpage, which we were able to complete during the allotted three hours.
I was particularly interested to see how Tom and Trip would respond to questions, including the thoroughness of their answers, and if students would receive individual help if needed. I discovered a very collaborative teaching process. They would offer a brief instruction, work with students to implement the lessons, and always circle back if students had questions.
Beyond learning the ins and outs of code, I found the event was an accurate representation of the pace of the course, as well as the personalities of the instructors. Trip, for example, likes to interject a bit of humor into the lessons to keep students engaged, which I appreciated.
Ultimately, I left the event feeling even more confident that coding was what I wanted to do, and that I would be in good hands at JRS. Three months later, as I start work on my final student project at JRS Coding School, that belief has been validated.
If you’re considering coding school, I highly recommend attending JRS Coding School’s next Coffee and Code event on April 22nd. There’s no risk or cost; just the opportunity to learn from coding school instructors in a small, pressure-free setting. If you want to test the waters and make a fair assessment of your options, you owe it to yourself to attend.