My life after Makers Academy a year later

Since it’s been a year(!) since I started the course, I thought I give an update on my life since I graduated from Makers Academy last May.

Job situation

I got a job fairly quickly with DesignMyNight (about 2-3 weeks after the course had finished). And even though I didn’t get the job directly through Makers, I definitely benefited from the interview exercises and CV revisions Makers did with us during hiring week! (Note: Makers has now changed their hiring prep a bit, more on that on their blog.)

In hindsight, I think I had false expectations regarding the hiring partners. Makers had quite a few partners and many of them interesting but of course you are competing with around 30 classmates who have exactly the same experience as you do. So pretty much everyone of us was looking at LinkedIn offers, spoke to recruiters, went to meet ups etc. The usual job-hunting process. And if I’m not mistaken that most of us found a job 2-3 months after graduating.

Bottom line: you will find a job!

Life after my career change

I’m so glad I took the leap and changed my career. For me this is finally a job I get excited about! Obviously it was a massive challenge coming from my biggest Makers project, which was the work of two weeks , to a website that has existed for years in the real world with real-world challenges (time, customers, budget, infrastructure, …). But over half a year later, my job title is still Junior Web Developer. This for me is a massive achievement. Without the course I don’t think I’d have ever done it!

Of course you can save a lot of money and probably just learn coding by reading books or doing tutorials, but at least for me I need a social learning environment and a somewhat structured day with goals and challenges. Not to forget the meditation or coffee breaks.

During the course I met so many lovely people; learned a lot about code and more importantly how to learn learning about code; trained in over-coming a coding-crisis and solve problems; how to ask for help and to actually ask for it (which isn’t always easy); how to work with other people and letting other people know how to work with me.

So if someone’s reading this thinking about applying for this course I highly recommend it!

Please feel free to message me if you’d like to chat some more about the course (anni[at]annikanns.de or in the comments of course). Or just head over to makersacademy.com! (I’m not being paid for this :P)

Breakfast notes

Job status: seeking

Mood: ok

It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me these past few days. After the pretty structured 12-weeks at Makers, I’m a graduate now: I need to find a job, I need to do tech tests, I also should be refactoring old code, I should be starting new projects, learning new frameworks, languages or at least become an expert at the stuff I do know. I should be going to a meet ups everyday and work on an elevator pitch for myself. Naturally I should be more evolved with the tech scene in general, i.e. follow interesting & inspiring people on twitter or feedly. And in my spare time I should be reading all the tech books and listen to pod casts for best practices.

I knew there was going to be a lot of stuff but I was a bit overwhelmed. Especially when I started a tech test and it took me a lot more time than I thought it would and threw my nice daily schedule out of the window. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it right, to find a job immediately, to tick of all the items from my list above.

So now I’ve realised when I set myself out to do too many things, I get too stressed if something doesn’t go to plan. I’ve changed my plan to doing one main thing per day: either coding or applying for jobs. I’m hoping by doing that I’ll get more applications done because I’m ‘in the zone’ and write better code because I know I don’t have worry about writing applications for that day.

Makers suggested writing applications in the morning and then code in the afternoon, but for me that doesn’t work. So we’ll see how it works out with my new ‘plan’, and then reiterate and go from there. 🙂

So for today: coding -> tech test!

Hiring week

With the presentation of my final project, I’ve officially graduated from Makers Academy. I can write Junior Web Developer on my CV now and will be paid for writing code. Right now this seems absolutely crazy! I’ve only just stared coding right?

But thanks to makers I’m not completely lost – the last official week is dedicated to preparing us for the next steps: finding jobs, writing a meaningful CV, preparing interviews and tech tests etc.

Here are the main things I’ve learned:

  • Keep coding (refactoring old projects and creating new ones)
  • Go to events and meet other techies
  • Use your personal network (even if they don’t work in IT, most companies have a website these days and dev departments)
  • Have a CV that is personal and couldn’t be written by 30 other people if you remove your name

So what’s next?

There are so many things that I could be doing now which is quite overwhelming. For now I’ve decided to go back to basics. To make sure that I am writing cleanest code (small goals to start with).

To keep coding we’ve been recommended to try upcase.com, which is by the makers of thoughtbots and provides many resources and exercises to practise your coding skills. (I’m currently working on the refactoring trail.)

Even though looking for jobs, interviewing and all the rest of it is scary, I’m really excited to start a new job 🙂

SocialCow – My final project at makers academy

The idea

Organising meet ups with friends can be very timely. We often spend ages in messaging groups and sometimes it doesn’t even lead to a meet up because of indecisiveness. So my group and I made a website that wants to make this process easier.

Here’s a little demo video:

The idea is simple: have a calendar that is accessible by all of your friends, so you can add an event to the calendar and your friends can see it and select to take part. The video shows other features such as commenting on events and notifications that your friends are coming to your event.

Technologies

We used Angular & Bootstrap for our front end and NodeJS. All of the tech details can be found on our project’s GitHub page: http://github.com/AnnemarieKohler/social-calendar.

Things I’ve learned

Biggest learning was definitely using NodeJS, as this isn’t being taught during the course. So whilst building the app, we had to learn a new technology, which was definitely challenging since compared t Rails documentation isn’t as easy to work with and there seem to be a million ways to do things with about two million packages.

Another great learning curve was testing both front end and back end, since each of them was written in JavaScript. We’ve only known Angular for about 2 or 3 weeks so our knowledge was somewhat limited. This meant resolving a lot of promises (and at the beginning of the project, I didn’t even really know what that meant).

Final thoughts

I’m generally quite pleased with what we’ve delivered in the given time. My team and I have decided to keep on working on the app, to implement features we didn’t get to do and to refactor the code.

Starting final project of makers academy

This past week, I have been working on my final project. My team and I will be making a social calendar app, which is supposed to make meeting up with friends easier, as you can share a calendar with them. Friends can show interest in events that others are taking part and join them.

For our little app we decided we wanted to learn something new. So instead of using Rails/Sinatra for our backend we went with Node, Express.js to be precise. Using Express itself has been okay so far, the trickiest bit was writing the tests. Different backend, means different testing suit – we used Mocha and Chai.

Despite the tests or the lack of good documentation, our little app is slowly coming together. I’m not sure if we will finish it the way we planned it out, at the beginning, but I sure am learning a lot from it, which to me is the most important factor.

Also I really enjoy working with my team! All of us had better and more challenging group/pairing sessions of the past few weeks. Because of these experiences we wanted to make sure to have two really good weeks. So we’ve agreed right at the start to have daily stand ups (at least 1), feedback sessions (end of the day/or as part of the stand up), and use the pomodoro technique to ensure we take breaks.

So far this has worked out really well, and I’m very happy 🤗

This is my amazing team: Paul, myself, and Yasmin (we met up yesterday at Yas’s place #bestoffice)
My team: Paul, myself, and Yasmin (we met up yesterday at Yas’s place #bestoffice)

Building websites and games

Yesterday we finished our MVP for our Japanisify app (as we had hoped). This means the translation algorithm is done and the user can now enter their name and see the Japanese translation!

Japanisify
Here is the first version of our JapanisifyAPP.

So today we’ve started refactoring the code, as our coach also told us, we need to break our really long Regex into small functions, and we also added some front end to make it look pretty, and I started on adding some extra features. For example printing your name in Japanese and showing past searches.

Brainstorming
Some thoughts we had about potential features for our project

In the afternoon we had a games workshop, which showed us how to build a space invaders game in JavaScript (not the whole game but the important things we should keep in mind when building games). So I think I want to build a game now 🙂 I’ll probably start with building the all-time fave snake 🐍

Get a tattoo of your name in Japanese?

We’re in week 9 now (😱), which means Makerthon. In the beginning of the week we could pitch ideas, selected our favourite ideas and vote which one we want to do this week.

So for me this means, I’m now working on creating an European to Japanese name converter. So than Anne becomes (insert jp here) 🙂

First we we’re looking for an API but there aren’t any free ones available (or they didn’t work as we wanted them to), so we’ve decided to write our own algorithm which seems is challenging but fun I think 🙂

(And really only Misa from our team will be able to tell if it’s wrong 😝)

We’re hoping to have our MVP by end of today and then we want to implement some more fun stuff, such as linking to tattoo studios in the user’s area, so they can get a tattoo with their Japanese name 😂.

Angular week

Last week we covered Angular a JavaScript library. As the angular documentation isn’t the easiest to understand, we were struggling quite a bit to figure things out.

Especially test-driving seemed very longwinded. It’s not like rspec which is super quick to set up! You have to set up karma for unit tests, protractor for feature tests, you need to install Java so it can run-in just seems very big, need to install a package for nicer format documentation, mocking…

On the plus side, karma keeps running continuously in the background so you see immediately if you’re test is passing after you save your file, without manually reloading the tests.

After three days of learning angular we had a two-day group project where we were asked to build a GitHub search that shows the users, their avatar, follower and repo number. This was quite challenging since it required two API calls, we tried nesting the API calls but couldn’t get the tests working (we realised that our first passing tests were vacuous and didn’t actually prove anything 😩)

So not the most successful week, but even though we couldn’t get the double APIs to work, I think I still made progress with angular itself. I have now a good understanding of factories and services and when to use them (which in the beginning of the week I thought I’d never get 🙌).

Small victory dance

It’s as easy as ABC

With lab week almost over and week 7 around the corner, I’m slowly starting to feel nervous about what’s going to come after this bootcamp.

I’ve read this blog post about junior developers getting a job and which mentions challenges especially bootcamp graduates face: not enough computer science knowledge and/or being used to solve algorithms. So I should be learning about:

  • Graph Search
  • Big-O Notation
  • Linked Lists
  • Multi-Dimensional Arrays

as well as going to at least one meet up per week, either as attendee or as volunteer, and of course go to loads of hackathons.

I think I’ll start with the computer sciencey stuff. I had a go at creating a linked list in Ruby and found this article on big-o notation. I’ll also go back on codewars, to improve my algorithm-solving skills.

Good thing, we have this weekend off 😂

ABC – Always Be Coding

Lab week – a glimpse into the real world

We’re already halfway through the course and that means lab week at Makers academy! Usually the students could go into their own chosen studies but this time, the coaches wanted to change things up a little bit.

So we’ve been put into groups and going to work on a project within groups.

We are given the task to build an Airbnb clone, and then have to decide how we’re going to build it. We’re using waffle.io for our project management. I’ve used trello before, but waffle’s big advantage is that it’s directly connected to our Github account. So for example, when one person send a pull request for their branch to master, waffle automatically moves the project into QA, so the other team members know they need to take a look at that piece of code.

We’re also having stand ups in our little groups in the morning, to see how everyone is doing, and I believe we’ll have a retrospective at the end of the week. So this week feels more like reality: making decision on how to build a project, creating user stories from specifications and estimating how long it will take to finish a certain task.