This is a story about change. You may have heard it all before in some way shape and form but today this story of change is unique because it’s my own. It’s my own contribution to the cloud of individual experiences of the same thing, Change.

Notice the word “Change” with a capital “C”. 2020 has been a year of Capital “C” change for so many of us this year. I started this year as a chef of twenty years making a pivot into sales and marketing. Moving more towards consulting work than behind the fires work… And then Covid came. Suddenly a very well laid plan went the way of all plans of mice and men according to the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. In short they all went awry.

Fast forward to November 30th, 2020. What a year it has been. I joined Lambda School in September for full stack web development. For those that aren’t familiar, Lambda School is an 18-month intensive computer science and software engineering program that provides an immersive hands-on curriculum with a focus on computer science and full stack web development. In this program we iterate advanced coding challenges utilizing pair programming practice, utilize agile software development and Git workflow on all projects, and gain hands-on experience with client and server testing. We also execute three"Build Week" projects (that span two weeks) with a track team handling all aspects of building large projects including frontend, backend, and computer science students.

We also design original user experiences across a range of web and mobile platforms, from ideation, to wireframing, and ending with a viable final product. Our curriculum course work includes: React, Redux, Node, Express, MongoDB, Jest, Python, Django, etc Iteration of high fidelity code utilizing ReactJS, Redux, and CSS on the frontend and NodeJS and Express on the backend to build single-page applications. It is a 4 year computer science degree program rolled up into 6 + months of lectures on web development followed by computer science and labs where we iterate products for stake holders.

Only enrolled part-time and with so much time on my hands aside from looking for work I also signed up for the Harvard Extension School CS50 course. The CS50 is designed to teach students how to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently. Topics include abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web programming. Languages include C, Python, and SQL plus HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With problem sets inspired by the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences the course culminates in a final project. This would have been around mid October.

By Nov 10th I had applied to so many jobs in the kitchen, out of the kitchen, web development, internships.. just about anything when I came across a tip that there was a program through unemployment that had internships available. One of the listed internships was for GameDevHQ. It said get paid to learn how to code video games. I thought to myself “Cool!”. I had grown up with computers in my life learning to program in Basic, and later, C by 7 years old. I had originally wanted to go into computer science coming out of high school but had to forego the idea due to parental health issues. I had taken classes, built computers… always been a gamer. So, it sounded fun.

Time went on and I didn’t think anything of it. I hadn’t really heard anything and during this time I lost my grandmother so it had really fallen off of my radar.. That was until Thanksgiving day when I heard that I’d been accepted into the program. Not only getting to learn how to program in C# and utilize the very popular Unity development engine, but getting paid to do so. Talk about manifesting a dream.

Today’s whole experience has been a like a dream come true. From integrating my slack channels into one app, to catching all of the first day emails, and paperwork, to sitting down to 4 hours of coding into my first 2.5D shooter game today. This has been a day like a fantastic dream. With my now overflowing open windows and full screens across many monitors I have found peace and happiness in the arms of change.

My first day of coding challenges and instruction has been fun if not a little unwieldy in the organizing the layers of classes and student materials but easily handled after the initial dump. I had already finished my C language section through Harvard extension and was coming right off of JavaScript with Lambda so C# wasn’t much of an issue. Syntax. Unity took a little playing with but I’ve been learning music production using Ableton, and Logic Pro for the last 6 years so it felt very much at home. Almost as if Unity is the DAW and the music is written in C# the language not the key signature.

2020 has been a year of great change. If not for embracing it I feel certain it could have been devastating. Change is a good thing. it clears space for parts of your life to leave only to make room for other things. Change is like that first breath of fresh air in your house when you throw open the windows on the first warm sunny day following a long, hard winter. It can be shocking at first because generally it’s still quite cold but it’s so refreshing. That’s what 2020 has been for me and with the start of the GameDevHQ program I look forward to what 2021 and beyond have in store for me.

Full stack web developer and game developer who enjoys React, UI/ UX, and the journey that the study of tech has taken me on.