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)

Mice and motivational problems

At home, we had a little four-legit visitor last night, which kept us awake for quite some time before we could finally catch him (see below for a picture).

So with my beauty sleep interrupted, I was tired and unmotivated today and couldn’t really get myself to code, which is quite unusual.

I think right now, the constant coding and learning of new things feels very overwhelming, and it is quite crowded in my head. I’ve been programming every day for the past 7 weeks. In the past 4 for probably at least 7 hours a day during the week and who knows how many hours during weekends. Constant learning, pairing, failing/passing/rewriting tests.. This has definitely caught up with me now and I can feel it.

So for me, this Easter weekend feels like a bit of a breather. Even though, not for very long… since next week will be shorter and we’ll have less time to solve the weekly challenge, but there you go! It’s not like I hadn’t been warned about the most intense, but best 12 weeks ever!

mouse
The little guy when we set him free

Week 2 day 1

Today, we were supposed to have our code reviewed by out mentor. Unfortunately, not every mentor showed up, so Ive had a group review with 3 other students and two mentors.

The guys doing the review with us were doing their best but at the end of it, we spent a really long time on it, no one had actually looked at my code and I filled out my review myself..

Later in the day my mentor offered to review my code remotely. So looking forward to that. Our coaches also check our code and message us if there are any red flags. I haven’t received anything so I’m taking this as a good sign for now.

We also had kick off meeting in the afternoon with coaches. There we talked about common errors they’ve found from students and introduced us to this week’s challenge: Building an oystercard programme. Sounds good 🙂

I felt pretty exhausted and kind off worn out today. I guess since I spent pretty much all of my weekend on the challenge, I didn’t really rest. Next weekend, I’m meeting a friend for Brünch which will force me to leave the house and get away from my laptop for a bit.

I also want to try yoga this week. Just to see if I like it 😊.

Week 1 day 4 – Starting all over again

I hadn’t been quite happy with my knowledge and understanding of the course materials this week, i.e. how rspec works. Therefore I asked my pair partner if we could start from scratch and redo the hole thing!

He had actually redone it the previous day and so I’m very grateful that he started a third time. 🙂 It was definitely a good decision for me as we went through the tasks slowly to make sure to know what every line meant.

The only downside was obviously that we were now behind. I think he’d stayed on after 6, which is what I should’ve done as well I think (oh hinesight)…

Week 1 day 1

This is actually being published on my second day, but I was so tired that I just feel asleep.

Yesterday was the first day of the main course of Maker’s Academy.  Even though we’ve seen each other on Slack, many of us hadn’t met yet and so we played some name games  (including spirit animals.. didn’t think the sloth would be so high up that list) to get to know each other.

After the game, those of us who had requested a laptop from MA, could go an pick it up and set up our dev environment. They provided us with the useful guide on http://www.preparetocode.io, to install programming essentials that we’ll need for the course, such as XCode, Homebrew, RVM & Ruby. My MacBook had been completely reset, like all of the borrowed ones, so I spent most of my time updating the OS to El Capitain and finished the rest of the setup at home.

When we broke for lunch many of my fellow students went to one of the plenty little food shops/markets. I’m trying to spend as little money as possible and since Makers has a kitchen area/ couple of microwaves I’m bringing in my own food (naturally forgot my food at home on the second day).

After lunch we had an interesting chat session on how to get the most out of Makers. One of the conclusions was that the course is only the precourse to the rest of our lives, as we will learn how to learn how to code—not just coding.

Another concept that stuck with me was, to aim for changing 1% every day at a time. Usually we (i.e. me) want to see results very quickly—obviously that’s because we do something, because we want something out of it. So when we don’t achieve our goal as quickly as desired, we can feel like we’ve reached a plateau or even failed the task and give up. And that’s when the 1% comes in: we need to keep going, we have to aim for only that 1% —even if the 1% improvement only means that that day we found out all the ways that don’t work to solve this or that problem. We now have this knowledge of what doesn’t work, which we didn’t have the day before and which gives us a head start for the next day.

The crucial aspect to keep in mind is to actually track what you’ve done each day, which is something that Makers encourage their students to do – and which is my reason for this blog as well.

I already regret not blogging daily during the precourse as I often felt like I’ve done or achieved nothing, but actually looking back now, I have learnt so much in the past four weeks already. It’s just so easy to forget as you think it’s natural and everyone knows it. (Memo to self: no it’s not, it been four bloody weeks of precourse work!)

So I will be trying to journal / blog as much as possible. I’m not a fan of my writing, so it takes ages for me to put something up (more often than not, I have about 5 million drafts…),  anyway I will actually try and use this brain dump. Be warned!

Precourse Week 3 – Summary

Here’s my summary of week three of the Maker’s Academy precourse.

Most Important Things I Learned:

  • Reading instructions carefully will save a lot of work
  • Arithmetic can often solve a tricky problem easily (instead of longwinded code)

Things I Struggled With The Most:

  • Time, time, time! and not working wifi at home 🙁
  • Some of the tests from the Chris Pine exercises

Changes I Plan to Make Next Week:

  • Do a lot more pairing
  • Recap what has been done so far
  • Getting started with TDD

Other Experiences This Week:

  • Meeting up with others is always beneficial
  • Difficult week due to limit amount of time, but glad to be off work starting precourse week 4

 

PreCourse Week 1 – Summary

All the Maker’s students have to fill out a weekly learning process. Throughout the course, the students use the agile methodology to reflect on their progress and their work in general.

So here’s what I’ve taken from the first week of Maker’s precourse!

Most Important Things I Learned:

  • It’s okay not to be the first to finish every exercise (note: especially if you’re working full time)
  • The command line can be understood! (even if it looks odd at first)

Things I Struggled With The Most:

  • From the material – understanding grep and regex
  • In general – working full time and doing all the prep work

Changes I Plan to Make Next Week:

  • Strict learning schedule (see you in 15 weeks, friends!)
  • Doing the optional exercises which I haven’t done yet
  • Get going with Ruby!

Other Experiences This Week:

  • Using Slack (our communication channel) makes me feel part of the community despite being unable to attend day-time learning groups
  • If you want to pass the challenges, you need to follow the instructions to the letter – things like different file names cause the tests to fail

Bottom line:

We covered a lot of material in the first week and looking back, it’s crazy to think it’s only been a week of studying – 6 days to be fair, since on the first day we didn’t get any material! I’m definitely enjoying it so far, despite my head hitting my desk occasionally. 🙂

Precourse week #2 here I come!

Source: http://guh-gifgarden.tumblr.com/post/49104576486

Your wish is my command (line)…

During the first week of the precourse, we’re focussing on learning about the command line and version control.

For the past few months I’ve been doing a series of courses on the website coursera.org about responsive web design. The courses talk about programming languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript, and also uses the Meteor framework which runs on MongoDB. So during the courses I’ve learnt the mere basics about using the terminal/command line (‘cd’, ‘mkdir’, how to ‘add’/’remove’ packages to our meteor projects, view the db etc). As the course teaches quite a broad spectrum, they didn’t really go into the whys and hows of the command line, so I’m pleased to actually really focus on it now in the precourse.

I think the hardest thing for me is to see using the commands in the terminal like any other programming language. Just like in JS, we’ve got functions that take arguments, we can run them and we can get something in return, change something, etc. I know the terminal can do more, but me and my brain are taking one step at a time!

My favourite command is obviously ‘man’ – a saviour!

One of my fellow maker’s students has also told me he’s done the command line track on codecadamy.com. After I’ll finished the Maker’s material on the command line, I want to do this 2-hour track as well – having different types of learning input will definitely be helpful! (I believe they have also one on git – wahay 🙂 )

 

First day precourse: check!

First day of the precourse is done and I can’t wait to start! Today we, the February cohort, met up and had the change to get to know each other a little bit. The group is quite international which makes it an interesting bunch – I believe we cover 4 continents!

Other than that we we’re given more info about the schedule of the precourse. We will have learning material for every week to work through and then on Fridays we’ll be given a weekend challenge. They emphasised on working in pairs/groups for the exercises which will help us getting used to pair programming, a method we’ll be using throughout the course. The weekend challenges are designed to be done on our own, so we know we’re were at and, importantly, so the coaches know how we’re doing.

They also suggest to code everyday during the 4 weeks – so I’ll end this blog here and get on some codewars.

Source: http://cheezburger.com // I was told my blog lacks gifs … 🙂

 

Off to the precourse

Tomorrow is finally the day when the precourse will start. We will meet at the Makers Academy building and get to know each other and find out what we’ll be doing for the next 4 weeks.

I can’t wait to get started but I’m a little bit nervous as well, as I’ll be working full time alongside for the first three weeks of the precourse. During my interview with Makers they recommended giving yourself at least 15 hours a week for this precourse, so technically working should be fine. They also said, however, that having more time will be beneficial and someone even recommended taking time off work if possible.

On the other hand I see it as a good way of getting used to the busy and long schedule of the actual course.

So far the preparation for the precourse seemed well organised. We’ve been sent information on how to set up our machines for it, including which software/apps we need to stay in touch with other class members and staff. It’s nice to be able to feel prepared 🙂

Can’t wait!!!