From the Canadian Armed Forces to Coding

Coding is a passion that every Bitmaker Labs student shares; it is what brought everyone from all walks of life together for 9 weeks. However, each student has their own unique story that brought them here. Bitmaker Labs Inside will shed light on each student’s story.


*Name: *Ashley

Profession: Maritime Surface Officer

Age: 31

Hometown: Brampton, ON

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*When did you realize you wanted to learn to code? *

My own "aha" moment occurred around the time that the limitations of Excel became very clear to me.  I was repetitively copying and pasting between spreadsheets, sometimes for an hour or more, and realized that there must be a better way.  After a bit of googling, I built my first little script -- an Excel Macro which automated the collection of data from a directory full of CSV files. From there I started using Python to script simple functions.

But scripting is obviously a completely different beast to Software Engineering.  I decided that I wanted to learn Ruby on Rails to be able to personally build and deploy my application ideas.

*Why did you chose Bitmaker Labs? *

I had been trying to learn how to build software for about 6 months before joining, rather unsuccessfully. The learning curve is steep! So I did some googling and somewhat serendipitously realized that not only was the Bitmaker Labs just down the street from me, but the immersive program covered the aspects of web development that I wanted to learn, at the right price, at the right time. So I bounced the idea off a few of my friends and colleagues in the industry and they agreed with me -- that I should definitely go for it.  And here I am!

*How has the transition from the Canadian Armed Forces to Coding been? *

I find that on most days, I'm using a completely new and different intellectual skill-set, which has proven challenging.  As a Naval Officer, you are responsible for making good decisions, mainly about people and equipment. You do very little building from concept through to product and implementation.  Coding does however leverage some of my military-developed skills like attention to detail, focus, discipline and high-level analytical thinking.

*How do you find Bitmaker Labs so far? *

It's been great!  I've developed a lot of valuable skills and confidence in applying software development concepts -- which is what I hoped to get out of the program.  While the workload is high and pace is rapid, this has been a pretty awesome learning experience. Not to mention that the people I've met have been awesome too!