Starter League: The final stretch

My Starter League experience is now in the final stretch. In 9 days, demo day will be here and I will be in front of 300 or so people presenting what I learned the last 11 weeks. While I will write a final post about demo day and my project, I feel that this is a good time to reflect on the last two months. I took a “leap of faith” exiting the corporate life and immediately jumping into this program. I traded structured days for the startup lifestyle. It was exactly what I wanted and needed in my life.

The Starter League website says they will take a beginner and over 11 weeks “turn your ideas into live, functioning prototypes” on the web. Do they deliver? Yes. I feel with what I learned I can create a basic functioning prototype for a business or web application and get myself launched. That is what I wanted out of the program and that is what I received. Do I feel I can get hired at a company as a full time developer? No. Maybe a beginner based position, but it will be a lot of practice, networking, and assistance from other developers before I fully grasp everything in Ruby. I have learned a lot yet I still have a whole lot to learn…but for the first time in a long time I feel completely challenged and excited even though I know the program is coming to a close. The Starter League taught me Ruby on Rails to a level that I understand enough to launch a working product and keep learning on my own after the program is over. That, and that alone, is worth the cost and commitment to this program. The mentorship experience, classmates, support, networking events, and working in the coolest workspace in Chicago (1871) are just the icing on the cake. All in all, the program exceeded my expectations and I am happy to have been able to experience it.

So, after this ends, my life seemingly becomes open-ended. I have several paths I can take after this but I have yet to figure out what I will do. Back to corporate life? Start my own company? Freelance? Maybe even try to get an apprenticeship at a dev shop. That is scary and exciting at the same time. Maybe the scary and excited feelings of having that seemly open-ended life is where I need to be, where I need to position myself going forward, and then stay there.

So…is there more to the value in the Starter League? Is it just in the skills, networking and mentorship? No. There is more. The real value is the feeling of empowerment to go out into the world and become a starter. That feeling is priceless.

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