Well, I survived the Phase 1 Assessment. After the great review we had on Tuesday night, I already felt like I was prepared, but once we got into the actual challenges, I realized that the whole thing was going to be a lot easier than any of us had planned for. In case you’re reading this and you’re coming into Phase 1 in the near future, I won’t reveal what was on it, but suffice it to say that if you prepare for everything that you’ve learned through Phase 1, you’ll be more than ready, and can begin with confidence.

I will admit that I was a little surprised at how easy the challenges were. We’re given 3.5 hours for the whole thing, but a lot of people finished in under 2. Even though I like to take my time and really make sure everything looks good, I was done with everything in just over 2 hours. I wish the test was a little more complicated, taking advantage of some of the more subtle concepts we covered. As it is, I’m glad to have completed it.

If you’ve ever been through a college exam of any kind, there’s a sort of euphoria you feel after all that weight is off of your shoulders. There’s also a feeling of completion, like you’ve finished that class or semester or whatever, and any additional work just seems pointless. I felt that way for a little bit. There were afternoon challenges, but they seemed so unimportant and distant. I enjoyed a nice long lunch with my friends, played some ping pong, talked about the assessment with others, and relaxed.

After lunch, our lecture was on associations and validations inside Active Record. This concept is very important, because it starts to get into accepting and validating user inputs into a persistent database. If someone puts in an email in the wrong format, we need a validation command that catches it and spits it back to the user to correct. Our afternoon challenges were all based on the lecture, so it was fun figuring out what rules had to be created in order to get the tests to pass.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to work on the challenges, because we each kept getting pulled away for our code review. I met with one of the other teachers to discuss the code I wrote for the assessment. Though I felt confident going in, and that I’d satisfied all of the requirements of each challenge, I was soon corrected. In the most basic sense, my work was eviscerated. Every single thing I created had some sort of fatal flaw that was focused on, rather than the fact that it actually worked and met the challenge requirements. Even if something was completely correct, there was some way to do it better, making my code feel inadequate.

Don’t get me wrong, I love learning new methods to make coding simpler. But I think there’s definitely a way to do it that can be more engaging and supportive of the work I’ve already done. At no time during my review did I feel like my work was acceptable, which is a real blow to the ego. I want to learn, but after pouring my soul into the assessment, I just want to be told I’m doing great, and go over ways that I could be doing even better in a constructive manner. I think my reviewer was attempting this, but it’s difficult when you’re so far above your student. Everything felt like I was being talked down to.

So, with those feelings of frustration, I was back to riding the roller coaster. Feeling like I’m doing great, then suddenly feeling like I’m completely lost. The worst part is that I really do know what I’m doing, but the way I chose to do the assessment was not as acceptable as I thought. Live and learn.

After the afternoon challenges, we had Algorithm Night. This was especially enjoyable, because one of our own cohort members gave the lecture on Recursion. It was nice to have so many people from the cohort there to support him. The challenges, on the other hand, were way over our heads. We sort of managed to figure out the basic concepts of each challenge, but didn’t really know how to go about solving everything. It was still nice to just puzzle over everything for a bit.

I came home completely drained. I had planned to sit down and finish up the day’s challenges. I even pulled out the computer and began working on it, but my eyes immediately began to droop and it was time to sleep.

And then of course, I woke up at 4am to write this. Because the cat I share a room with was lonely and decided I should be awake.

Until tomorrow(tonight?), my name is Edwin Unger and I’m a web developer in training.