Observations from the first month as a developer

tuzgai posted at

Hello again! It's been a bit, I must have messed up my heroku configuration - this site has been down but I just haven't had the gumption to work out what was wrong. Of course, when I settle in to fix it it takes literally five minutes. v0v

So! I've been working as a software developer for a little over a month and just wanted to share some of my observations.

1. Getting started is totally overwhelming, but that's ok - no one expects a junior developer to know everything. It was a week before I even wrote a line of code, before that I spent my time getting my environment set up, waiting for an intelliJ license, and reading up on the architecture of our particular part of the puzzle

2. Working on a full-size enterprise website is a totally different experience from writing little class sites! I'm on the GCP subteam of the Search team - I basically only touch Apache Beam pipelines from day to day, and our team of 30 people just handles the search feature. We have crazy automated test and deployment pipelines - these are powerful and exciting, but I also have spent more time working on tooling issues than I ever expected. 

3. Read a book! I'm so used to all the information for everything being available for free online that I forgot that actually having things organized in a instructional format is really valuable, especially for mastering hard topics. We have a book club reading the O'Reilly book Streaming Systems, and every chapter has made me better at my job.

4. Imposter system is real, everyone deals with it - you're doing better than you think. I had my first 1:1 with my manager last week. I had been feeling like I was doing sort of OK, struggling to keep up and needing to ask a lot of questions to get things done. My review was "we're really impressed that you've been able to jump in and get up to speed so quickly". Even my team lead will sometimes after architecture discussions, come back with written notes to show he'd also been thinking about these things. It's ok guy! We know you're smart and working hard, you don't have to prove it.

5. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Obviously try to find the answer for yourself over wasting anyone's time, but it's totally fine to ask for help - I do it every day and never regret it.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm excited that the whole new career plan worked and so far the job is going well! It's still a little stressful every day and I'm impatient to know everything but it's cool to be actually doing the work.

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Added TinyMCE support

tuzgai posted at

Applying what I learned in class, I've updated this blog to support a WYSIWYG editor. Unfortunately that means all the old Markdown based posts just lost all their formatting. I'm going to go back and tidy them up presently but apologies if it's not perfect.

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That's a wrap!

tuzgai posted at

This will be my last update as a student at The Software Guild, but I think I'll keep this blog going as I continue my journey in the world of tech. Today we presented our group projects to the rest of the class - ours wasn't perfect, but everything worked and I'm proud of what we managed to get done while working around interviews and individual projects.

In personal news, I had interviews with two companies from the speed interviews this week. One of them was a written test where we covered OOP basics, SQL basics and a couple quick coding problems. I did pretty well on it (referencing my notes here helped!) and got a call back to interview on Monday. The other interview was a full technical interview starting with fizz buzz and ending with a generalized version that could take any number of words and numbers with some basic unit testing. I felt pretty good about how it went, especially when they mentioned that I was the first junior developer to use a hashmap to solve it, apparently usually only seniors do. They're working on machine learning stuff so I have high hopes that they'll think it's as good a fit as I do!

All in all, I really enjoyed this program. My technical headstart meant that it was not quite as demanding as it might have been, but I learned a lot of practical skills and look forward to applying them in the workplace. I'm a much more confident interviewer and got to make a lot of cool people and make some valuable connections. Part of why I signed up is because I had no idea how to navigate the world of tech jobs, and now I know a fair bit! The rest of the class has developed a lot in the last few weeks as well - while not everyone is done with all their projects quite yet, they're all pretty close and are clearly much more confident coders than at the six week mark.

All in all, if you're new to coding and have a strong work ethic, this is a good way to dive in to the field. Tomorrow we're having a little celebration and graduation ceremony and this weekend I'm taking a well-deserved break. Monday, it's time to dive into the full-time job hunt! I'll be applying places, finding meetups to go to and keeping my coding active. I might get to write an scoring app for a kickstarter board game if it reaches a high enough stretch goal, so I'll be digging into the Ionic framework. Wish me luck!

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Week 11 Update

tuzgai posted at

So, if you're starting out in The Software Guild or considering joining the program, I want to talk about week 11. In a lot of ways, week 11 is going to be the capstone of your whole Guild experience. You will be working on two different, fairly large projects - an individual mastery project and a group project. While you're doing that, you'll be applying for jobs wherever you can and you will also be preparing for the speed interviews. This is a lot! I've felt like I'm ahead in this class most of the time, but this week was very stressful. Here's a couple things to keep in mind.

-The speed interviews are a great opportunity, don't pass it up. Try to get as many sessions as you can as long as you're legitimately interested and do you homework for each and every one. I had a list of questions prepared for each interview and it was a great comfort to have done the work in advance.

- This is the time staying on top of the coursework earlier will really pay off - if your projects come easily you'll have more time to prep.

- If you're stressed, that's normal. Everyone is exhausted and stretched too thin. 10 weeks is a long time to be continuously learning at your maximum capacity! Just take a deep breath and remember that this is your Super Bowl, finish strong.

- If you're nervous about interviews, try not to worry too much. Everyone there knows they're interviewing bootcamp students, they're not going to destroy you with technical questions you had no chance to answer. Also, most of our interviewers were recruiters or staffing people - also known as Professionally Likable People. You'll have a fun time after the first one!

For my personal story, I interviewed with 9 companies over two days (it was originally going to be 12 but a few had late emergency drops - sign up for as many as you can!). I'm not really sure whether I should be naming companies, but there were two major recognizable brands, several consulting firms, several recruiters and a couple staffing agencies. I felt like every interview was a learning experience, and some companies impressed me far more in person than I gave them credit for from their website. Give everyone a chance, there's a fair possibility that you just didn't get a clear picture in your research.

At the end of the day I came away with no concrete offers (none were expected), a few companies I expect to hear back from, and a new really positive relationship with a recruiter. I also feel like I'm a dramatically better and more confident interviewee. I also got to meet a lot of cool new people and see a lot of new perspectives on the tech and tech hiring worlds. All in all, totally worth the time!

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I am signed up for 11 speed interviews

tuzgai posted at
On the one hand I'm excited! It will be a good opportunity and they're all people that on first blush I'd be excited to work with. I like meeting people and think I interview pretty well, so it should be a fun, very busy couple days. On the other hand, I have 5 pages of questions and research written and still have 4 employers to go. Whew. Permalink
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