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My second month as an 8th Light Apprentice!

Image: pexels.com

It’s hard to believe that we’re already 10 weeks into our 14-week internship with 8th Light!

By the time we’ve conquered one hurdle (it really feels like that sometimes) another comes right along behind it, once again stretching my perspective of just what I’m capable of. In the past month I’ve:

With each new project our learning deepens even more. The complexity and size of our programs continues to grow and has offered the chance to solidify the principles of writing good quality code.

The journey however hasn’t been without its challenges and personal learnings. Four key ones so far are:

Wondering whether I’m “good enough” or “know enough” to be a developer

This feeling has reared its head more often than I would usually openly admit. During such an intense learning phase, it’s very easy to fall into comparing yourself to those around you and wonder whether you’ve got the potential to do well at something completely new.

Thankfully the weekly retrospectives offer the chance to download these feelings and be consistently reminded that it’s not just me experiencing this. Even our mentors have felt exactly the same at one time or other. Some still do when tackling a new problem or coding language. If those I see as developers have experienced the same, then I must be a developer too!

A fantastic piece of advice which I’m building into my thought process is to ‘compare yourself to your previous self’, rather than to others or to some idealised version. I’ve gotten more comfortable with celebrating my wins no matter how small, as a reminder to myself that I’m more than good enough.

How do I remember the key technical words and rules?

This takes time and practice, yet often has me feeling apprehensive about voicing my ideas to those around me. I find that when I’m anxious I might ask a silly question or not articulate a suggestion clearly, it’s very easy to stay quiet rather than speak up. But it’s impossible to know or even to remember everything.

On the advice of Laurent (one of our mentors), I’ve increasingly focused on “learning how to figure things out, rather than to just know things”. The beauty of coding at this time is that there are so many accessible resources available at the tip of one’s fingers! Google, Stack Overflow, MDN docs, GitHub and software documentation will probably always be my very best developer friends!

No developer is an island!

At the start of this journey I commented in an early blogpost that mobbing felt like having ‘too many cooks’.

Weeks later, I look forward to opportunities to pair or mob. Programming in a group with two other interns to build a weather manager allows us to pool our knowledge and share ideas for different ways of achieving the same goal. This is particularly advantageous whilst we’re coding in JavaScript as the language offers more than one way to write a function or to access a hash and we can see this clearly as we work on the same problem.

Differing ideas has made our programs much stronger and given us more confidence in figuring things out amongst ourselves. It’s also helped me to read others’ code much more easily as well as emphasised the readability of my code.

It’s important to take breaks.

Our mentors encourage us to take breaks and not push ourselves to burnout, making sure that we make time to switch off between work days and rest. The open permission to do this has been great for my wellbeing, removing any guilt that I should be coding non-stop.

I’ve discovered more than once that looking at the same code snippet fresh the next day got me there much quicker than if I’d carried on at home! Oftentimes you can become so immersed in a program that it’s much harder to see the code with fresh eyes. It’s sometimes as simple as a missing ‘return’ or reordering the logic!

As well as the personal growth, in the past month I’ve really enjoyed discovering the difference between Ruby and JavaScript, from the way you define and write a function to how you test and inject back-end logic to display on the front-end.

Siobhan Baker


…. was originally published in blackgirl.tech: A Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.