So I fired the R&D contractor mid-project.
I was left with half a product, no foreseeable achievable deadlines, and no programming power. The year is 2016 and my programming skills are non-existent. Apparently, after a math degree, you don't know how to program. Who knew.
But me being me, I thought I could do it better than them. They were dragging and each iteration took forever. So I ended the contract and started to learn iOS programming myself, thinking I can do the work of at least 2 of them.
I managed to learn while building the product. And it worked. I quickly became faster and the interface looked much closer to what I had in mind.
I used every vacant hour I had, before work, after work, and during the night, and I learned exactly what I needed to reach the next step while complementing the most important basic concepts along the way.
I learned styles, MVC, MVVM, learned server-side too, learned to work with both AWS and GCP, learned to Deploy, learned Docker, Kubernetes, and all sorts of databases, APIs, REST, SOAP.
Everything alone and everything from the web. Coursera, Udemy, edX, SkillShare, and whatnot.
Years passed, projects switched, and I learned new languages, frameworks, services, DBs, scraping, and ML. I became a very competent end-to-end developer with serious architectural capabilities.
I became so self-reliant that I didn't need anyone to teach me. I read books, looked at tutorials, and took a ton of courses. All alone.
Years have passed, and I found myself where I wanted to be. A very much in-shape learner, able to learn everything, and learning intervals became shorter and shorter.
So obviously I took larger and larger projects. Then a project came in, where I needed some more firepower. It was not a one-man project, but it was a cool and lucrative one.
So of course I reached out to my network... but, lo and behold, there was no one there.
After years of learning alone, I found myself without peers, with a very minimal network, almost non-existent. I was limited and this time not by my knowledge.
I started thinking, how the heck am I going to create a network? I was a freelancer, so I wasn't part of any team at any company. And I was surely not going back to Uni for this. None of my hometown friends were programmers. What the hell?
So there I was, no network and no peers. Just as the title says. And I started thinking about what I should do.
Should I go to hackathons? conventions? hang out in forums? discord channels? I didn't have the extra time for that.
Then it occurred to me that I still spend a huge chunk of my time on online learning. What if I could combine online learning and creating a network? That'd be awesome! But how do I do that?
The forums on either Udemy or Coursera didn't feel like the right place to do it. Sharing my knowledge on blogs and forums still felt like a one-way type of communication. I needed to replicate the togetherness that university students have.
AHA! Let's learn online courses together with people.
We'll stick to the syllabus, but this time as a cohort. No instructor is needed. No need for a kindergartner. Let's learn together and help each other.
So I asked on LinkedIn and in a few other places that I hung out (like IH obviously) who wanted to learn together and apparently I wasn't alone.
We started the first cohort for the first course about 6 months ago. We took ML by Andrew Ng. It was awesome. I got to know people in my field in a manner I never got before. I got to share about myself like I never did.
So the project grew, we opened more cohorts, and then for new courses, like blockchain and now we open for Deep Learning and Golang.
I know way more people now, I enjoy learning even more than I did and I even have laughs along the way.
What's the moral here? To eat your broccoli.
And learn with people.