Garett Arrowood discovered Learn while at a crossroads in his life. As a freelance musician and former teacher, he’s always embraced a lifelong philosophy of learning and developing his craft. Now that he’s pursuing a career in web development, he opened up about what using Flatiron School’s online program Learn is really like, and gave some advice to those who are considering taking the plunge.
Why did you want to learn programming?
I no longer wanted to do what I was doing full-time, so I started looking around. I started reading one of those books that help you find your ideal career, and about a quarter of the way through it had me look at a bunch of different professions. That’s where I stopped. I got interested when I saw how much job opportunity was in this field and started investigating schools. I was planning on finding an immersive, but once I learned I could do it all online, I didn’t feel I needed to go to a physical school.
How is programming rewarding?
I started really liking it once I started doing it. I had no idea how much I would like it, but little by little what I found most appealing was the instant gratification. What’s really nice about coding is that you get what you put into it, so if you work and study hard, you’ll have a product right in front of your eyes. I’m a performing artist and teacher, and sometimes you can put in more effort than you get out. The more time you put into coding, the more value you get out of it. I feel like my time is always rewarded by having concrete things happening.
What were you doing before you started Learn, and how has that affected the way you learn to code?
I was and still am an active freelance musician. For the last five years, I also was a full-time teacher, but have been teaching in some capacity for my whole life. A major part of being successful in these fields for me was embracing a lifelong learning philosophy, forever studying and improving your craft. This lends itself very well to coding. As you meet more people in the tech community, you find that everyone is still learning and studying as they go. Since there is no way to learn everything out there, a good programmer learns how to learn, and keeps improving at it.
How have other platforms you’ve used compared to Learn?
I started learning with Codecademy. And it was great because each lesson is spoon fed. You are given a problem, shown the answer, and then stepped through reassembling that answer. But Learn asks you to do much more, and like the title implies, integrates coding knowledge. In addition to teaching the technical nuances, Learn shapes how you approach programming problems. It equips you with an understanding of how languages interact and how frameworks are structured.
What kind of software would you like to build once you start working professionally?
Software that has a positive effect on society. It would be wonderful to work towards making it easier for underprivileged minorities to vote. Fantastic to write something that makes it easy to identify and fix our gender pay gap. Software that helps visual and performing artists get a larger piece of the pie. And with all that said, something that is preferably written in Ruby.
Where do you see these skills taking you in the next few years, and what languages are you interested in learning next?
I am very excited about career possibilities moving forward. Due to the high demand for qualified programmers, I feel like I can finally decide where I would like to live as opposed to letting my profession decide that for me. The idea of eventually working remotely is also very appealing. I’d like to spend a significant amount of time living outside of the country. What languages I learn next depends on what my first job in this field needs. In the meantime, I plan to keep learning more tools and libraries in the languages I know.
What advice would you have for other people on Learn?
Two things — the first, ask a ton of questions. Keep putting your questions out there. Not just on Learn, but to anyone who you can ask. Second, have patience with yourself. Nobody goes through this easily. Anticipate frustration and be patient with yourself. Realize that you’re learning something everyday, and that’s an accomplishment.