The senior developer effect

One week to go to my last day in the IT Academy Bootcamp. 5 months have gone and still I feel like I haven’t learnt anything (yes, I know that I’m just scared, I’ve learnt A LOT). In one of those grey days where I couldn’t do anything more than breathe because of my lack of neurons, I found myself in youtube searching for videos to encourage me to keep pushing and tell me “Cris, stay quiet. It’s normal to freak out”.

I found this terrific video from Netta Bondy talking in a Front End Event (You gotta Love Frontend 2016). She talks in a marvelous way how for us, junior developers, feel like when we start in our first job and how important is how seniors can teach us in a meaningful way, not only with confidence also with creative thinking.

I don’t know still how is the situation in IT companies in Barcelona. But, please, if you are a senior or a mentor, you have to watch this. If you cannot watch it, I transcribed some of her words adding some mines. It will be very helpful for us (and for you!) if you take in mind Bondy’s words.

  • We don’t know what is going on with us the first day of our jobs. Do we have a seat? Are we allowed to share our thoughts? We are scared to ask you even what we have to do. So, please: have a plan. If you leave us with a bunch of documentation, make sure we will meet again in few hours to ask you all we have in mind. Make sure that we understood (at least almost) everything. Because…
  • We are not sure if we are good enough. It’s our first job in frontend. We will google everything. And by everything, I mean everything. And we don’t even know if the answers will be good. If it works, we don’t know why it works. If it doesn’t, we don’t know either. First we will think if you leave us alone: “What am I doing here? Why did they hired me?”. Lead us to know that this feeling is normal and with time, it will disappear by asking, failing, having success, and failing again.
  • We don’t know if we’re doing progress. We’re the worst evaluators ever with ourselves. We need your feedback once in a while. Share your experiences with us. And make it clear, understandable and relevant. Focus on our skills, not in our person beginning the sentences with “you are…” because we are not our code. Share with us similar experiences. We are sure you had your first day in this company or your first company starting out as a junior developer. It’s not showing us your weaknesses, it’s showing us empathy.
  • Did you know that we feel awful to google every time? When I discovered (me, Cristina) that developers use their 80% of the day googling, I felt better. How that could be normal? And they pay me for this?
  • We want to make you know that we are a good addition to the team by our code, and we understand that we have to start small. And we know that means doing things that almost no one wants to do. We have to start somewhere. But, we don’t love doing the same tasks over and over again. We love challenges! So, what happens? We get bored and we don’t learn. Do we have to follow the 10000 hours rule (10000 hours practice)? So if we, as juniors, are challenged to deal with frustration with the same thing over and over again, we will get burned out and we will not learn anything. So, make sure you give us creative and challenging practices with the objective to learn.
  • We know that sometimes you are not happy with us having us there around. That you get frustrated with us with how we are doing. We know that you don’t have time for us, for our questions, or silly situations breaking things. We know what you think about us. We know when you think that we are stupid or lazy. That we’re not cut out for this. If we see you thinking that too often, we’ll start thinking that too. And remember that we’re the first “scared” in this situation. But we believe in you. We don’t believe in our own trust judgement, but we know that what you are talking about. So if we feel that you don’t believe in our chances, we will take you a word for it, over our own. So if you feel that you don’t believe in our potential, please, consider yourself if you should be teaching us.
  • At that moment, we can only be as good as you are. You shape how we see the world. We learn to… copy. And we learn to copy you. And we will think that, that’s a good developer. You set the limits of what we believe we can become and beyond. So, be the developer you want us to be.

We were (we are) working hard to have this position. We worked hard, even if coding wasn’t our thing and we managed to do it (still we are). So we have potential to become the best developer we can become. We will give you all the feedback that you need to tell you that you are doing your best to teach us. We know that our job is to learn.

ANNOTATION: I’ve been told that maybe these words may sound kind of “victimism”. The intention of transcribing and adding my opinions on the video is simply that if you are in the position of boss, senior or mentor, you have in mind some points that will make the life of both (junior + senior) easier. Juniors for sure, have a lot to offer. And for sure a lot of knowledge too. I’m talking about trust and commitment. We are great professionals, and most important, great human beings. So, let’s help each other.

“Learn to program in 1 month”

Good good good…
Three months have passed since the beginning of the course. There are some things that have been very clear to all the attendees and also to the teachers: there is too much agenda for everything we have to practice.

The part of networking, webservices, JSON and Virtual Machine has left us dizzy. We did not start to see a bit of interesting stuff until Version Control (git) and SQL. We were at the beginning of June with a head full of theory and almost without having hit any key. WRONG.

We are now at the beginning of August. We have learned HTML, CSS, UX and start with JavaScript. We had to look for parallel courses other than lynda.com’s since the ones with JavaScript were very advanced for us. The one that is taking us all out of trouble is: Udemy’s The Web Developer Bootcamp from Colt Steele. 100% recommendable.

The second part of the course begins now, when we are not exactly in the course. We are forever-alone all August. We will have to continue learning all by ourselves if we want the course to be productive and we can sell ourselves well to a company in autumn. The agenda has become big, we are in summer and we have the feeling of not having learned “nothing” (it is a lie, I have never learned so much in my life). The mind is boycotting us because of the pressure of the countdown. We have to remind us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to learn so much in such a short time.

I insist for those who are doing Bootcamps or are thinking of doing one: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LEARN SO MUCH IN A LITTLE TIME.

It is assumed that at this point (3 months of course) those who started from 0 (me and 17 others) would have to be doing Angular 2. Obviously there was a small calculation error or the expectations were very high, since it is (I repeat) IMPOSSIBLE to learn everything we have learned in such a short time and think that in 3 months we will be Angular 2 experts. I remind you of the agenda here. Getting to php would be a miracle.

For those who are in Angular 2 or even working, are engineers or advanced students who have done previous studies in JAVA or Android.

Dealing with frustration is also very important although we know that we are doing A LOT. We are a few that we already have some exhaustion over and we received August with a lot of love to continue learning at a somewhat more relaxed pace (I’m taking my laptop with me on vacation, poor thing). Especially knowing that in September we have to give the best of us as we have a Market Place and our neurons, a cv and linkedin have to look bright.

It is VERY necessary to remember constantly that we are marketers, designers, cooks, psychologists or content creators. The terrible sentence “I’m a letter person” pursues us every day. And yes, I speak in feminine because of course, we have made a group women, which are the ones we are sharing and giving constant moral support because without a doubt, the course is very hard and learning to program without having a clue is complex.

I say all this from my most positive and honest side: despite all the hard work that is being done, we continue day by day, exercise by exercise, fighting with the code and realizing what the developer’s life is like. Jen Simmons, standard-bearer of Mozilla, gave us a good dose of reality (which I shared with my colleagues). It’s a MUST READING if you’re thinking about being a developer.

Yay! Let’s continue to the second phase!

Alignment of planets

Nobody could have foreseen it, but it happened. One Friday I’m going to work and boom! my boss tells me and another colleague that he’s breaking away from his partner and we are fired. Paperwork, unemployment and the immensity of time ahead of me and my terrible fear for my future. I must add that same night my mobile was stolen and it was two days before my birthday. Welcome to the 37!

I did the tests for the Wallapop Ironhack scholarship in Barcelona. It’s really exasperating to see how they take advantage of so many girls who want to learn how to program. A course with a value of 6000€ (too much money for something that can be learned online) with which we were finally given a discount of 1500€. Good luck to the girls who are doing that bootcamp, from my heart. I do not doubt its quality, but it hurts me to see how they pay so much money.

Luckily for me, I remembered a Barcelona Activa front-end course that I could not attend precisely because I was working. I went back to their page and it was still available. I signed, they accepted me (yay!) but first, they told me I had to do a logical math exam (shit!) I’m not good at logic or mathematics. So, of course, I failed the exam.

I was surprised that they called me for the personal interview. And there my conviction and motivation played along with the phrase “with you or without you, I will learn to program“. A few weeks later I was in front of my computer learning with 49 people more: IT Academy begun on its first edition.

The agenda (all in English) still scares me:
– Computer Science
– Virtual Machine
– Linux
– Webservices
– Networking
– JSON, XML
– Version Control
– SQL
– Data Base (nice to see you again, Workbench, my old friend)
– OOP – OOD
– HTML
– CSS
– UX
– JavaScript
– Debugging JavaScript
– ECMAScript 6
– LESS
– PHP
– PHP with Mysql
– JQuery
– AJAX
– JavaScript and AJAX
– Bootstrap
– Angular

Woooow… Just for 0€ and 5 months ahead to learn there 40 hours per week in Cybernarium amazing premises. I cannot be more grateful. By the way, the itinerary we are following is from Linkedin courses from lynda.com. I recommend them A LOT. Besides, two teachers mentor us all day every day (thank God Slack!).

My planets lined up to be there after my last online communication project to perform to the fullest to take advantage of this opportunity. I swear I’m going to take it 100%.

Follow the steps of those who know

That’s right, if you’re a bit lost or if you do not have a clear idea about who does what and where to go to get it, follow the steps of the best. I love this roadmap. Directly to your bookmarks, please.

The programming subreddit also helped me a lot. Its FAQ part was very enlightening, besides that it will be my coacher when I start to think about killing myself.

Go!

JS: Where to start

It is obvious that you have to invest time to study on your own. Having a 40-hour job (actually, 45) can be a handicap if you try to do something “fast”. Here “fast” does not exist. You cannot learn JS fast, I have been told.

The fucking routine
Being aware that it is a long-term learning is very important. More if you’re like the ones in my case, not knowing how to stop still for a second. Keep this in mind: the head does not work the same after working 9 hours. And unless you have loads of money and time to pay for a bootcamp – which does not guarantee anything either – and survive without working, you better be able to at least create a routine for yourself.

Obviously a move does not fit into the plans of a routine (that has been my last month). Or go out every 2 × 3 for a beer, vermouth, yoga, writing, birthdays, barbecues, coffees to chit chat or other topics that can entertain you. Alles verboten. Either you are or you are not. You decide if it will take 1500 years to understand something. My routine besides my 40 hours per week job: 3 hours a day of JS in the library 4 days per week and all the weekends that I can.

Tutorials
Before getting into the mess of the move, I was able to document what courses I could start to give the first babysteps in JavaScript:

Khanacademy
Udemy

When sometimes I feel that I can stumble doing those babysteps, I read again and again this thread on Twitter.

Since I am a little duffed with CS concepts (I have already done my babysteps in java for some time and I have some fear of doing things all by myself) I decided to do something in Spanish. I’ve been with Khan Academy for a week. For now, starting with ProcessingJS. Obviously now I do not see the sense to start here, but from what I have seen and I have been told, is one of the best online courses to learn JavaScript. When I see myself with strength enough (question of time), I will continue with Udemy. And for my glory ovaries that from then on, I’ll start to chop doors.

It’s the market, amigo
Why will I start so early to chop doors? There are no developers available in the market. All placed. In a dream world, I hope companies think about how to prioritize juniors in some way. In fact, I hope that some company will be part of my evolution coding and wants to take advantage of me as much as I do of them and make a win-win project: they invest in me and I learn for their benefit.

I’ll keep you posted.

Neither hello world nor hallo warld

Again with the phrase of yore. As if we could not write anything else when it comes to learning to program that “Hello World”. I promise that the first thing I will code will be a “Hello Mama! YOU SEE? I TOLD YOU!”.

My name is Cristina Fernández, I am (currently) 36 years old and I am going to learn how to code.

To do this, I intend to update this blog to share some tutorials or tools, to share if I have managed to do something useful and especially, if I get frustrated with some lines of code and I have managed to solve it without pulling me from the third floor where I live .

If you want to see my works as content writer, web designer in wordpress and other things that I do, you can visit this website. That’s my main income. If you want to see the bullshit that I write while I try to work for a future, you got my twitter, the professional and the facebook pro. That is why this will be a flat blog, without images or too complex paragraphs.

Here we go!

ps. English is not my mother tongue, so from now on, I am very sorry for my mistakes, spelling, lexical and grammatical. This blog is also made to improve my English. I hope to do it with my poor German at some point.