Last Month, I Had Zero Clue About What React Was. Today, I Built a React App.

Tons of things have happened since I last wrote about my Lambda School experience. I have so many things to share and I don’t know where to start.

Well, how about with this:

Front End Project

Building a React Web App From Scratch

That’s a note-taking web app I built using React. It looks quite plain, I know, but what’s amazing about this is that four weeks ago, I didn’t even know what on earth React was. (Remember how worried I was about learning applied JavaScript? It turned out that React was even more challenging to understand, at least initially, than the Document Object Model). Was it a language like JavaScript? Was it a framework? Was it a kind of software? (You can tell by the quality of my questions how much of a newbie I was.)

Now, of course, I know a bit better. It’s actually a JavaScript library for creating or rendering user interfaces.

Obviously, I didn’t build this up in a day. We were given the whole week this week to create and develop it. Our goal was to at least reach a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and if there’s still time, to add more advanced features like refactoring React to include Redux (another JavaScript library that’s used to manage the state or data of more complex React applications), make the data persist (i.e., make the information that the user inputs into the app, in this case, the “notes”, stay within it), give it some search functionality, give it the ability to convert text into Markdown format, and many others.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do any of those stretch goals. But I was happy just to reach MVP.


Just to digress a little bit, I used to just hear about “MVPs” and “bringing a product to market” from podcasts and blogs. For example, I’m a big fan of the Y CombinatorMasters of Scale, and Indie Hackers podcasts. I hear about MVPs, users, product-market fit, “creating something people love”, and so on, all the time. So it’s super surreal that I’m actually starting to do these things already — that is, create a product or software, think about its UI and functionality, be sensitive about what users might want, and etc. To be sure, I still have tons and tons to learn about React and Redux, and miles and miles to go before I come to a place wherein I can say that I’m confident about my ability to build a good product, but at least now I have begun my journey.

Awesome Peers

Anyway, many of my peers were able to add several of those advanced features in their apps. A few of them were even able to do all those stretch tasksWe had a cohort-wide Demo Day earlier and many of their presentations were mind-blowing. It’s challenging enough to add Redux into your React codes, but to include all those other features? Truly impressive. Every single day at Lambda, I feel like I have walked into a room full of brilliant folks, geniuses even. To be honest, I sometimes imagine that I have wandered into a Harvard or Stanford classroom where everyone is just super smart and mentally quick.

Team Standup May 26, 2018

Of course, we’re kind of a mixed bag in our cohort. Some have prior, even professional, exposure or experience with programming. Others, like my wife and I, have only begun to code last March when the mini-bootcamp started. But there were a few who even with relatively-recent programming background was able to achieve impressive feats.

Thank You

So many people have reached out to me to thank me for writing about my journey with Lambda School. Some of them are incoming Lambda School students. I have nothing but gratitude for these guys, and to you dear reader, for reading my articles in the first place.

Next week, we’re going to begin learning about back end stuff. It will probably be more challenging than the material on front end, but it will be exciting nonetheless.

Trusting the System

Today, Lambda School’s fifth batch of students graduated. They demonstrated and defended their capstone projects in front of a panel. I was able to witness it a little bit. One comment from one of the students really struck me. He said to simply “trust the system”. A lot of the stuff that he was learning didn’t make a lot of sense to him during the second month of their curriculum. Heck, it didn’t make much sense to him during the fifth month, either. But suddenly, everything just clicked for him. Everything just made sense and came together: He already knew how to program and he didn’t even realize it.

So, yeah, I want to just “trust the system”, too.

The Fastest, Surest Way to Become a Software Engineer

If you’re interested in becoming a Software Engineer but still quite “ on the fence” about where to learn, let this article be the sign for you. Lambda School is probably the surest and fastest way of achieving that goal. The number of applicants is increasing, so the rate of acceptance will probably decrease a bit. You can increase your chances of getting in if you’ll do the pre-course work or the web development 101 course, which is free. Go here:

My wife and I attended the bootcamp in March. They’ve recently revamped the format to allow the would-be student to get to really experience what it’s like to be in Lambda School. So today’s applicants will get to watch an hour of lecture from an instructor, get to work on a mini-project or assignment for another hour, and have the chance to work with a team and project manager for the last hour to simulate a real team in a tech company.

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