Last year while I was sitting in a very HOT Ljubljana, Slovenia I began to think again for something like the millionth time of getting back into IT. Instead of turning to Dice or Booz Allen Hamilton’s Alumni program I went to LinkedIn. In February of 2016, I was given a year free on and a year of a LinkedIn premium account because I am a veteran. Nice, I thought.

Somehow I discovered the Veteran’s Mentor Network and became a member. I read the top (most current) post and discovered a coding boot camp for veterans in Chicago. I read the entire thread and part of the application process for Code Platoon is to do probably half of the Front-End Development Certificate on freeCodeCamp. When I went to freeCodeCamp I was elated to discover I could earn a full stack web development certificate AND have a portfolio to show future employers with all the projects I would have to do. I thought, “Excellent! I can do the same thing as the boot camp, without having to move to Chicago or paying for it.”

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Where I Parked My Hiney the Summer of 2016

Full Stack Development Certification from freeCodeCamp

Front End Development Certification (250 hours remaining)
  •  HTML5 and CSSfinished
  • Responsive Design with Bootstrapfinished
  • jQueryfinished
  • Basic Front End Development Projectsfinished
  • Basic JavaScriptfinished
  • Object Oriented and Functional Programmingfinished
  • Basic Algorithm Scriptingfinished
  • JSON APIs and Ajaxfinished
  • Intermediate Front End Development Projectsfinished
  • Intermediate Algorithm Scripting
  • Advanced Algorithm Scripting
  • Advanced Front End Development Projects
Data Visualization Certification (415 hours)
  • Sass
  • React
  • React Projects
  • D3
  • Data Visualization Projects
Back End Development Certification (427 hours)
  • Automated Testing and Debugging
  • Node.js and Express.js
  • Git
  • MongoDB
  • API Projects
  • Dynamic Web Application Projects
Nonprofit Projects (800 hours) To qualify for these nonprofit projects, you must first earn all three foundational certifications: Front End, Data Visualization, and Back End.

Which Path Should I Take: Chaos

Doing the math I have 1892 hours or 47 weeks (8 hours/day, 5 days/week) or 34 weeks (8 hrs/day, 7 days/wk) or 26 weeks in the boot camp style (12 hrs/day, 6 days/wk) or 19 weeks (14 hrs/day, 7 days/wk).

I suppose I could spend 12-14 hours a day for 6-7 days a week and finish this whole certification in the 20 weeks that I will finish Code Platoon, but there are so many distractions that this is impossible. If I lived alone I could do it. I don’t.

Doubts, Doubts, Doubts

Upon waking every morning since I received the congratulatory email that I’ve been accepted into Code Platoon I’ve been elated, but during the day I have doubts. My doubts revolve around two facts (untruths or assumptions or fears):

  1. My age. It’s stupid that in the United States that I have to worry about my age and how I can hide it. I don’t look my age. My brain mostly still works, maybe even better than it did when I was in the Silicon Valley prime age for programming of, oh, 20 years old. Age discrimination is real AND IT’S STUPID. I have doubts that upon successfully completing this boot camp that I will get a job. Which leads to doubt/fear numero due.
  2. Money. I have very little of it. Like very little. In order to go I have to pay a $500 deposit (doable), then I have to get myself from here (near Rome, Italy) to there (Chicago, IL) which will cost me at least $1,000 (doable). I need to find somewhere to sleep because my uncle (who lives in a Chicago suburb in a 3 bedroom house all alone) is uncomfortable with me being there. My damn family. No sense on dwelling on that factoid, it won’t change anything except my karma. Plus, he refuses to allow internet in his house because the news told him that his identity will be stolen if he has internet. It’s probably for the best. Anyway, Chicago is insanely expensive. I have very little dough. The $1,500 I have to pay already leaves me with $2,000 in my savings account. Since I probably can’t afford to sleep in downtown Chicago where the class is located I’ll have to find a safe suburb very close to one of the train lines. Which suburb is safe? I looked on and the rent is either $500 a month or around $1,400 a month. I’m thinking if it’s $500 it’s not where I want to be. But I can’t afford the $1,400. Food. What if I want to eat? Oh, and what if I want to sleep on a bed? Most of the listings are unfurnished rooms. Unless it’s the $1,400 version. And then, finally, I have to pay the rest of the boot camp which is another $2,000.

I honestly don’t know how to make this work.

The director of Code Platoon told me to put a feeler out on our slack channel to see if someone can help me find a low-cost, safe room somewhere.

Should I just suck it up at my age, attend the boot camp even though I will probably burn through all the rest of the money I have before the time I get a job if I can get a job? Or should I not go to the boot camp and do the online freeCodeCamp as if I were in a boot camp? I have to pay the $500 deposit by next Monday.

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