Category Archives: Coding

WSU x AMPATH || Sprint Retrospective 6

Sams ShipsHey guys, it’s a weird feeling to be wrapping up my last semester in my undergraduate career in computer science (and sociology). For this final installment of my AMPATH sprint series, I will just go over the general overview of what went on for my team.

Most of our updates went onto our PowerPoint presentation, which is going to be presented on May 15th, 2019. My team and I are looking forward to presenting the overall process of our group’s learning and working process, the many lessons we learned, our advice for future students, the work we tried to implement, and various other technical aspects of our project.

We decided that on top of the search bar work, it is also a priority to organize the git repository so it can be better organized and an open work environment for other classes. I think this is important especially when new people come in and cannot efficiently locate and access the files they need. As someone who was once new to an organization that had a lot of different projects and files to sort through, I believe that this is very considerate of the team to go with this.

With some limitations my team had to face, we worked around it to determine how we should move forward. The end result is pretty much a search bar that is attached to the toolbar. It cannot currently be live tested due to there being no backend but it can definitely be done in the future under certain circumstances.

It was interesting being able to observe how much planning you can start with but still end up having to take detours, starting new paths completely, or sometimes even needing to take U-turns.

I thought it would be important to pull some of the advice for future students from our PowerPoint and include them in this wrap-up:

  • Point out and address problems with technology right away because others around you might have the same problem(s) so you can solve them collectively
  • Do all team implementations in a separate component based on what you will be working on
  • Merge your work constantly to the master branch so each team can have the updated changes

A pattern I am noticing in a lot of teams or group projects is that not everything is going to work out in ways that you expected or were hoping for but you learn to move as a shifting team to make progress and continue growth.

Overall, I’d say I learned an important life lesson from this: if I am to contribute extra time on top of my technology career in the future to work on side projects, it will be a challenge to allocate time if it is a group initiative. I also learned that even when we try to communicate everything there is still more room for miscommunication, so there may be no such thing as over-communicating. I am happy to say that we always tried our best to move forward in all ways!

 

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Find Mentors || S.S. 10

Sams Ships (13)In this final installment of my individual apprenticeship patterns, I think an important one to write about would be Find Mentors. To summarize the main point of this one, I would say that it encourages people to observe their role and their surroundings to see where they can find the most value from learning or use their resources. It encourages you to look at things from one level back instead of blindly jumping into something right away.

Personally, I have been in a role where I had to figure out a lot of things that could have just been taught to me. I quickly learned that I would be able to ask other junior developers how they managed to learn things on their own and it helped me a lot. If other junior developers were not available, then I would work my way up to people who had the most recent on-boarding experience and hope that they could recall the process I was currently going through. For the most part, that worked out well!

Thanks to this pattern, I thought it was useful to think about and remind ourselves that even though our mentors will know a lot more about us, they still do not know everything. They are still continuing to learn as much as we are in their own careers.

I thought I should update this blog to throw in a little hidden announcement if anyone actually reads these that I will be learning at a company with about 100 peers going through the same thing. This makes me feel a lot more confident knowing that I will have a designated support system around me and have mentors around.

Overall, I agreed with the pattern. This is because I can testify with my personal experiences how useful it was to be able to utilize my resources including being able to ask mentors questions or just find my own. A common question I had for my interviewers was, “Will I have a mentor or support system along the way throughout my career progression?” Personally, it is important for me to have a designated place to go for support because it just takes one more worry away about having to ask somebody a question.

It is now time to conclude my individual apprenticeship pattern series! I hope you have at least learned one thing from it because I have learned so many things.

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Draw Your Own Map || S.S. 9

csseries281829For my second-to-last individual apprenticeship pattern, I have decided to go with something a little more relevant to my current situation–relating to starting my career post-graduation.

The Draw Your Own Map pattern caught my attention right away with “we might come across situations or colleagues or people in the society who will try to prove that programming will become an unsustainable activity as time passes by.” Throughout my job search process, I asked questions and requested advice from all different kinds of people across different fields (and especially within computer science) on how they knew what job they wanted to start with when given opportunities.

In the end, I must choose what I think is best for me in terms of what I’m looking for. I’ve finally came up with a list and that includes:

  • Having solid mentorship
  • Proper training (no room for imposter syndrome)
  • A company that tries to stay on top of new technology
  • Work-life balance that allows me to continue doing all the things I love to do outside of work and travel often

The Draw Your Own map pattern is very encouraging, reminding us that we have options elsewhere if we feel that our current company is hindering our learning and personal growth. I found that this pattern was interesting because I part of my decision-making process was “what if I am ____ amount of time into my first career and realize that I do not like what I am doing?” How would I move on out of that role to figure out what I may like better in terms of my day-to-day tasks?

The activity to list three jobs that I could do following my next was was really helpful to visualize future career possibilities. I know that we can always learn on the job and at new jobs but it is also important to build up your skills that can be transferred in the first place.

The pattern has helped me feel more confident in the decision I made to start out in software engineering. I will build up my skills starting here and then more onward from there!

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Craft Over Art || S.S. 8

Sams Ships (10)As we have a few weeks left in the semester, I wanted to discuss the more creative apprenticeship patterns. This time I’m going to describe Craft Over Art, which is basically when a solution to a client’s problem can be solved with something that could work…or we could take it and go above and beyond. It’s being more innovative than just settling for a solution just to have something.

I found that the pattern is interesting because it emphasized the importance of how the things built for customers can still be beautiful but must always be useful. If it strays away from being useful, then it no longer counts as the craft.

I also found it to be thought-provoking because it brought up how people are truly in charge of how a problem gets solved. No one can force you to code something a certain way if they do not know a way to solve it on their own, which is why your role exists in the first place.

The pattern has caused me to change the way I think about my intended profession because your work can still reflect you in terms of creativity. As a person, I think I am more on the creative side and incorporating more ideas into creating something for people sounds pretty cool. If I had to follow a super rigorous structure, I may feel limited in what I can do to produce work that makes me happier.

The one thing I have to disagree with in the pattern is the part where it mentions that someone is suddenly no longer “part of the craft” if they deviate a little further. Who sets these boundaries? I do not want people to feel like they are not “enough” to be considered a real craftsman or whichever term it is referred it as just because they were being extra.

Overall, I appreciated the action section which encouraged people to reflect on what projects they worked on or situations they may have found themselves in where they chose creativity over usefulness. At the moments where I have personally done so, I had felt more proud of my work, because I knew it was uniquely mine.

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sustainable Motivations || S.S. 7

Sams Ships (9)From recent conversations with friends and professionals I’ve had genuine one-on-one discussions with, a common concern people have is whether they will continue to actually enjoy what they do. Today I’m going to discuss the Sustainable Motivations apprenticeship pattern. This pattern pretty much goes over scenarios people may run into throughout their careers in technology. There will be great days where people may be amazed that they are getting paid to create things and there will be rough days where people may be doubting if it is the right profession for them at all.

The points brought up remind me of a recent article from the New York Times titled Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable. What happens when the new-ness of what started as an exciting role to join in a company wears off and you are left off with unsettled feelings? It is up to individuals to keep going until they find what they love again or shift what they are doing a little to stimulate something new.

I like how the pattern encourages people to come up with a list of things that motivate them. It then tells them to reflect on what those things means or if there is a noticeable pattern from the things they have chosen. Having a list like this around to remind people of what they are working for is a reassuring way to keep them going. It reminds me of a post on LinkedIn I saw where someone kept a sticky note on their monitor screen that just had a number like “-$237.25” because it was to remind them of how much they had in their bank account when they started their job.

The pattern has caused me to think about the way I intend to work as someone who constantly likes to change things up or is not afraid of change. I do not disagree with anything in the patterns as it tells us to keep pushing and persevering by thinking about The Long Road, which is another apprenticeship pattern.

Overall, I think people interested in this pattern should read the NYT article I linked as well because it gives insight on the difference it makes when people do something that makes their work feel more meaningful.

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

WSU x AMPATH || Sprint 2 Retrospective

Sams Ships (8).pngFor my second sprint retrospective, there is something I would like to reflect on in terms of a change to my first sprint conclusion. It turns out my build environment was not completely set up properly so I had spent some time with assistance from my teammates on configuring that. I would like to note that I have a MacBook so that made things a little different to work our way around figuring out what to change or test out. A very helpful link was from a question someone asked on Stack Overflow. Through the process of not being able to install angular-cli on my mac, it led me to installing nvm, where there was another series of instructions to follow through Github.

It is very relieving whenever we get stuck on something and are able to find similar scenarios from people around the world who have run into the same roadblock and they share advice on how to work around it. Thanks to their input, I was able to resolve my terminal errors and/or warnings that resulted from trying to build something. It also helped me try and see if I could assist any of my other teammates who were running into errors as well even on Windows. I would definitely continue using the internet as a resource when I get stuck on mac-specific issues. The same thing happens when an installation that is only available in .exe files is required, I must find a mac-appropriate version.

However, if I were to proceed any differently; I would have double-or-triple-checked what is necessary to move forward. If someone else were to follow these steps; I would highly recommend checking out the links I provided above when I was unable to install angular-cli on my mac.

So far, we have been hit with some New England weather™ which shows how we were able to keep moving and working despite a roadblock that we could not control. It is very relieving to know we are now all on the same page and are working on moving forward together to contribute to the AMPATH system from now until the end of the semester. Who knew something could be more relieving than finally seeing the login screen after the ng command and going to the localhost url.

A big update is we got some more information on the AMPATH x WSU collab right around the end of this sprint so I am looking forward to exploring that with my team. It will allow us to analyze what has been given to us and decide where to move forward with the project.

Overall this past sprint included a lot more learning and collaborating with my team. I’m excited to begin watching the walk-through videos that Greg uploaded of the wire-frames. They look like they are broken down well and all of them are combined into a playlist so I would say we are going to be learning a lot more. Stay tuned for the Sprint 3 retrospective!

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Use Your Title || S.S. 5

Sams Ships (6)Having a software-induced identity crisis? Worry no further, I guess that may be a more common thing than I would have expected! This week’s individual apprenticeship pattern will be Use Your Title.

I thought this was really interesting because there is such a high likelihood that there will come a time when you find yourself in-between positions but called something higher because there was no pre-existing label or category that would perfectly suit you. It may feel weird to have to explain yourself in your title to someone who assumes what you do based on what they see or hear. But perhaps, I wanted to add that I feel like someone could just be feeling imposter syndrome; which is something I heard is common for women in certain career fields tend to feel. What if someone does 100% fit the title they feel that they need to explain their title for but just does not see themselves the way their supervisors do.

I like how this pattern tells us that the title is due to the organization we work for, not necessarily us whether or not it does not match us enough or over-exceeds our abilities. By removing ourself from the current situation, I like how we are encouraged to think how we would view or think about someone’s role based on what they actually did in their job. This perspective was thought-provoking to me because I had not considered

Something I tend to think about is knowing when you need to step out of your comfort zone. When should you move on from one thing to the next; how do you know to take that risk? Seeing the little feature on David Hoover’s actions after he achieved his goals, it was interesting learning how he decided to move forward by continuing to draw his own map.

Overall, the pattern has caused me to think a little more on my intended profession in terms of where I want to end up. Right now, assuming I will have a junior/associate position after I graduate and later become a ‘senior’ or ‘lead’; where would I like to go after that? What will be my ongoing goal?

 

 

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

WSU x AMPATH || Sprint 1 Retrospective

Sams Ships (5).pngFor my first sprint retrospective, I wanted to start off by introducing what kind of project my team is working on and what we are hoping to do with it before I move onto the description of what is happening.

The project I will be working on for the rest of the semester has to do with AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare); if you have not yet heard of it, it is a healthcare partnership based in Kenya made up of different organizations. Part of my sprint was getting more familiar with who they are and what we could potentially do to help them. It looks like they are mostly trying to ease or log more operations technology-wise to help people.

Our main tasks for this sprint were of course getting to know my team (classroom-wise) and getting our set-up tasks sorted. It is my first time using Trello for something and as a visual learner or visual person in general, I found it very convenient being able to see our “Product Backlog | Sprint Backlog | In Progress | Done” lined up. We decided to start by organizing because of course that is usually how projects are best done and kept on track. Along with setup tasks, we began by cloning the project and then installed Karma and Protractor.

So far, I cannot say anything failed (and hope I will not have to report that anytime this semester for the sake of us progressing) but I hope we will have more concrete plans for what is coming up next for Sprint 2. I think it also has to do with me as a person being so used to always working moving forward or on with the “next thing” and it’s just different not having that yet. That way there will be things to continuously progress on and track more efficiently.

However, if I were to proceed any differently; I would have gone back and gotten a little more background knowledge because I feel like we tend to tell ourselves “I’ll just go back later and review” but of course that doesn’t always happen. It’s just a fact when you’re a highly involved student who works on the side; but when you plan or set some time for yourself you will be able to do what you need to.

A majority of what was done during this current sprint consisted of trying to understand and introduce ourselves to Karma; which is a test runner for JavaScript.

If someone else were to follow these steps; I would recommend going in this order: Getting to know your teammates, making sure the team has a solid enough understanding of what project we will be contributing to this semester, beginning setup tasks, and then setting goals for when you should check certain things out.

Overall, I enjoyed this first Sprint as I did not feel too much pressure in terms of what needs to happen yet so we can ease into producing software that will help benefit AMPATH.

 

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Concrete Skills|| S.S. 4

Sams Ships (4)On this weekly individual apprenticeship pattern post, I’m going to discuss Concrete Skills. This pattern is pretty much explained with someone wanting to be a part of a good development team but they have not yet built up their development experience. My reaction to this pattern is that this would be a comforting one for students in college or upcoming graduates (and even entry-level developers) to feel a little less pressure on bridging the gap between starting fresh and being an experienced developer.

Concrete skills are interesting to me because you can have all the knowledge and information but being able to take what you know and apply it to something is different. The main takeaway I got from this pattern is to learn things that you will be able to apply even when you are still in the on-boarding phase. This has caused my to change the way I think about my intended profession because of course I want to get started and involved in projects right away. I like the feeling of being able to help people out when I have down time at my current opportunity just because I get to sharpen up a skill in one area instead of just sitting there.

A good question proposed in the pattern stood out to me, “If we hire you today, what can you do on Monday morning that will benefit us?” It’s interesting to imagine yourself in the role of a hiring manager; they have to hope to understand you well enough so that they can trust that you will be able to do your job and have an impact on the company. This thought makes me want to continue what I’ve been doing in terms of pursuing different learning experiences that will help me become a stronger developer not only knowledge-wise but skills-wise.

I do not disagree with something in the patterns as it gave me something new to think about and look forward to using in my future. I found it useful to hear their advice on considering looking at other CVs as references of what we would like to put on our potential list of skills.

 

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

The Deep End || Sam’s Ships S.S.3

Sams Ships (2)On today’s installment of the individual apprenticeship patterns series, we’re going to discuss The Deep End. The main takeaway of The Deep End is that you should throw yourself into an opportunity even if you are hesitating or unsure. Of course, it is not necessarily telling you to be reckless, it also emphasizes how it is your responsibility to offset the risks of your approach.

I found that this pattern was interesting because as a person, I continuously try to say yes to trying new things or taking on new roles when the opportunity arises. The Deep End is basically the pattern that represents that mindset and reinforces how important trying something you might think is “risky” turns into being one of the best choices you ever made.

The pattern has caused me to change the way I think about software development/engineering based on the “action” it tells us to consider; which is learning to see what choices are affecting where our career is heading and eventually learn how to make choices based on it. I will try to focus on not only reflecting and reviewing what has happened but I will also move forward by actively making decisions based on experiences.

I do not disagree with something in this pattern so far as the “risks” I have taken so far have always turned out bettering me as a person or helped me achieve something greater. Things like taking on new roles within Enactus when I was unsure about how much time it would take on top of my already busy schedule to how to actually do things were part of my worries. In the end, it turned out alright because I was able to work things around my schedule and people who knew what the role(s) consisted of were there for me as a resource or form of support.

Overall, I am pretty content with the things I have jumped into because like Enrique from the Jumping in With Both Feet story, I eventually felt “like a fish in water.” I liked being able to read about someone’s success story of an instance where they went after something and thought “hey, the worst thing that could happen is I don’t like it and I fly back.”

From the blog CS@Worcester by samanthatran and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.