Category Archives: Week 10

Draw Your Own Map

The “Draw Your Own Map Pattern” is chiefly about assessing your current role in an organization and looking forward to your next professional endeavor, be it within that organization, or externally. The Problem section explicitly defines the situation such that your current employer does not have the position you’re looking for in your organization. The proposed solution, in summary, is to put careful thought into your future external position and then create a plan with micro steps to get you there; these steps will help keep your sights on the potential position.

The pattern seems to coincide very much with the steps I’ve taken in life. I’ve personally undergone a very windy path to get where I am now and will certainly be considered having an unconventional path in any career I manage to land outside of college. While I don’t always have scheduled periods of reflection in my career, I find that periodically discussing with coworkers what they want to make of their careers inspires them to pursue their goals and also forces me to look inward and re-evaluate if I’m happy with my career at that point.

Perhaps my favorite takeaway from this pattern was the activity provided in the Action section at the bottom. For the unacquainted, the activity requests the reader to make a map of three jobs that could be logically pursued beyond their current one. The authors then insist that the reader do this with the web of three jobs for each of the previous branches and assess if any of these roles would satisfy them. The exercise implores that the branching is done one more time and this final iteration should be roughly representative of your total career prospects. I found that engaging with this exercise left me feeling hopeful and optimistic about my potential career paths —which is to be expected as a student— and would specifically recommend it to others looking to make a change who may be a bit more pessimistic about their prospects. As someone who has hopped careers, the hesitancy to reconsider one’s career comes from a fear of needing to take drastic action but by using this exercise I think those in a similar situation to my own would realize that they’re not as far from their destination as they may seem.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Cameron Boyle's Computer Science Blog by cboylecsblog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Stay in the Trenches – Apprenticeship Pattern

What this apprenticeship pattern starts off talking about is how you have been developing extraordinary code for years, meeting the standard for the company, but all of a sudden you are offered a management position which will in fact take you away from coding into another direction. Now the pattern states that this may be tempting and show that you are leveling up, but it is actually sort of an illusion in a way. You may feel that a promotion will help you out, but in this case it is taking away from the journey you have took so far and the motivation to be a good programmer. When you take the promotion, then you will start deteriorating in the skill of programming slowly as time passes by. What staying in the trenches means is to stay true to your passion, and try to find rewards for you exemplary work in some other sort of way by negotiating with the company.

I think the main message of this pattern is important and how it is talking about staying true to your passion. One thing that I don’t agree with is just because you may come across a different path in life that may be outside of programming, does not mean that you should not take. There are a lot of people that won’t be able to be in the position of manager and although a person has a passion for programming, there are times when someone needs to go to the uncomfortable side to level up. It may be time to start learning more about the bigger picture of software development and managing a team of programmers, then just doing programming yourself. It will be a different change and the only way to find out whether you like it or not, is to try it out. In the future, if you believe that the role isn’t for you, then you can always go back to some role of programming at a different level. The goal however shouldn’t just be to give up programming all together, but to try some different path while also staying up to date with the programming aspect. I personally believe that this will help you out more with experience of leading a team and not only focusing on the developing aspect. The more variance experiences a person has, then in the future it can help apply in all sorts of different aspects.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Roller Coaster Coding Journey by fbaig34 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns Blog – A Different Road

For this week’s blog post, I read the section  “A Different Road ” from chapter three of the book Apprenticeship Patterns by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye. The section talked about how taking a different road could be a risky or life-changing event.  Despite this risk, I believe that one should be not afraid to do something different with your life. A change no matter whether they seem good or bad at the time will teach you something new or a new experience that can drive you to push forward. The author started the section by talking about explaining how saying goodbye to the craft can be risky, but  “Even if you leave the road permanently, the values and principles you have developed along the way will always be with you” I think this is very true, no matter the change, the principles you have acquired so far in the career will always be there for you.

Currently, I want to talk about the sad reality and risk one may face when one changes a craft. The author talked about how a person switched from an IT job to be a teacher and afterward it was hard for the person to get back to the industry because “most HR people in big companies didn’t like it.” Sadly, most software companies nowadays see the gaps in a person’s career, and you must justify within their value system why you left and why you are coming back now. Also, as technology is evolving daily, companies want individuals that are willing to learn quickly and adapt to the environment rapidly. The solution suggested in this section I found quite helpful, which was to Write down some of the other jobs you think you would enjoy doing, find people who are doing those jobs and ask them questions regarding them. This interaction will help an individual to decide if they are making the right decision to choose a different path. Reading this section made me think of what my life will be if I choose a different road, it is risky, but is it worth it. Sometimes you must risk It for a greater reward.

From the blog Derin's CS Journey by and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Kindred Spirits

The apprenticeship pattern I chose this week is “Kindred Spirits”. According to this pattern, you may find yourself in a workplace that does not encourage software craftsmanship. In the absence of a mentor, you should find like-minded people who are also looking to become software craftsmen. Unlike mentors who are people you aspire to be like, peers are people you can feel more comfortable with. You can exchange ideas without feeling pressured like you might with a mentor. It is important to remember though that you should not just follow the crowd. It is important to think for yourself.

As a computer science student, I have the good fortune of being surrounded by kindred spirits. Most of my peers are of a similar experience level to me. Because we are all in the same classes, we are all learning the same language and doing the same assignments. It gives me so many other people I can bounce ideas off.

The author also discussed the difference between mentors and kindred spirits, and I think that difference is really highlighted when you are a student. It is often intimidating to ask professors for help or ask for their opinion. Sometimes when a professor tells you something or gives you a suggestion, you feel like that is the only way you can do something. With other students you are not as afraid to ask questions, especially if you are friends with each other. You are also able to take advice from them without feeling like that is the only way a problem can be solved.

Under the “Action” section the author discusses finding communities to join based on the languages you know or the tools you use. This is another benefit of being a student. Groups like the computer science club offer an in-person community to be a member of. It might be a bit harder to find a group after graduating but it is still do-able – especially with social media. If you cannot find an in-person group to join there will always be a discord server to join. You could even organize your own group easily using social media like the author says to do.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Half-Cooked Coding by alexmle1999 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern – Unleash Your Enthusiasm

The key focus of this design pattern is the situation in which you have more enthusiasm for software development then the rest of your colleagues. Due to this, you end up holding back to fit with the group. I have a few experiences related to both sides of this. While I’ve never partaken in a software job, I have taken part in software courses. There have been plenty of times when I’m in a group project and the topic is so interesting to me I can just get to town and code almost everything. I guess rather than having it hold me back, I end up usually embracing it.

Then there are situations similar to that which I’m in now. It isn’t precisely a mirror for the apprenticeship pattern, but it’s pretty close. I find that when I have other things I need to do are when I’m most passionate about other things. For example, I’ll most intensely want to theorize about physics when I have an assignment due; however, once I actually have free time, I’m mostly content just wasting my time playing video games. Over the last month, I’ve become fixated with Sea. I had been working on creating a Minecraft Server manager in Node.js for my friends and I, then I moved onto creating a way of backing up my playlists. Then I realized it’d probably be easiest to do it in Python, so I started rewriting the code. In that process, I fell in love with Python.

I had used it before and enjoyed it, but I was almost something of an elitist. It had no strict types, it was easy to write. I treated it as if it were a beginners language. So I never really took the time to learn it. I rewrote my code in Python and learned a lot of the joys of Python such as context managers, list/set/dict/string comprehension, etc. (I just need to figure out the SQL commands and maybe I’ll eventually finish it). I had always been aware of the fact that Python running in a single threaded interpreter will never be able to perform as well as something like C. C by itself has a lot of joy to write in. Every language has its own personality you get to learn. That said, C can be tedious to write in and to read. That began my quest to create Sea – a version of the C language with Python-like syntax. I have become passionate about designing what the ideal language would be. Something modular, with high and low level features, and is easy to write and debug. Sea is just the first step in that.

I have found that I can so easily spend six hours straight coding, debugging, and refactoring Sea code. I can then go to bed and while I’m trying to fall asleep or even while I’m dreaming, I’ll be making design decisions. Classes that are otherwise fine can seem boring by comparison. Being able to just create something functional that has a clear use case feels great. At least sometimes, it can be really easy to share that enthusiasm with other students and it overall helps all of us.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Introspective Thinker by David MacDonald and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns Blog Post #8

For my final blog post pertaining to the apprenticeship patterns in the textbook, I decided to review the pattern entitled “Rubbing Elbows.” The situation that this pattern pertains to when the apprentice has almost plateaued and has been working on their own for projects. In this situation, the book explains that the apprentice will sometimes feel like they are missing things (like better ways of solving problems), but that they are not able to find these things on their own during their plateau. The reason I chose to review this specific pattern is because I can relate to it. On my free time outside of school, I have worked on projects on my own, and I know there are better ways to program what I am making but because I work on my own, I find it difficult to find those new and possibly better ways or working. The book’s solution to this problem is to find someone else to work with in order to learn more and have a different perspective on your projects/work. “Find ways to sit with another software developer and accomplish a hands-on task together, side-by-side. There are some things that can only be learned while you are sitting with another software developer to accomplish a shared objective.” I have actually done this before with a classmate while working on making iOS applications for fun, and it was an enormous help. Even if the person you are working closely with does not have a different solution to your problems, the added outside perspective proves to be not only helpful, but also necessary. I was especially excited when reviewing this pattern because I feel like I already am great at working with others, and the fact that that skill could be a good thing for my career is reassuring. The book describes how working with someone else could have many benefits even if it is only once a week. It helps keep you motivated and helps keep the other person motivated as well. If working with a certain person becomes not so motivating, the book explains that this does not mean you should give up, but perhaps you should think about working with someone else who could be even more motivating to collaborate with.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Tim Drevitch CS Blog by timdrevitch and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Learn How You Fail

This week I read the section “Learn How You Fail” in chapter five of Apprenticeship Patterns by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye. This section focuses on the concept of learning from your mistakes by understanding your shortcomings. An example the authors use to illustrate this is writing an implementation of binary search and its tests in one sitting without compiling the code or running tests once. Once finished, compile the code and run the tests in order to find any mistakes you’ve made. Repeat this process until the code compiles and passes all the tests while also writing down notes on each iteration. These notes will act as an identifier to your personal shortcomings which will certainly be useful into the self-assessment that allows one to set realistic expectations and a direction to aim towards in self-development.

The concept of “Learn How You Fail” has a lot in common with “Expose Your Ignorance” like how they both promote self-improvement and emphasize examining one’s shortcomings. But the most important similarities among these is that they’re both concepts that center around learning from your failures. However, the key difference is that EYI is opening up yourself to failure while LHYF is learning from that failure. It’s just that both concepts complement each other in that one naturally leads to the other. Take for example that exposing your ignorance could very easily act as the direction needed for self-development similar to the notes in the “Learn How You Fail” example.

The idea of “Learn How You Fail” is also one that applies to many different contexts outside of software development. For example, before someone learns how to ride a bicycle, they’re likely to fall dozens of times. A saying I’ve encountered in everyday life is that mindlessly failing again and again will only get you so far, improving muscle memory and the like. A key aspect in learning effectively and quickly is knowing exactly what to improve on. That’s why I personally believe that a direction or a goal is incredibly important not only to this concept, but to learning as a whole.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Rainiery's Blog by rainiery and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: How to Practice

Practicing is yet another aspect of software development that I have had issues with in the past. Personally, I find that whenever I bring myself to start some personal project with the goal being to practice programming I find that I simply have too much to do or what I am practicing feels too tailored to this specific practice program. Now that I am coming to the foreseeable end of my time in school, where these practice opportunities are essentially the focus, this issue has been weighing on my mind more and more. Thus, for this post chose to focus on the practice, practice, practice pattern.

Yet again I found myself really enjoying these patterns, as they felt very relatable. This was another insightful read, as I really did not have a set way to effectively practice in mind. I really enjoy the idea of katas that was brought up, which are simpler, but still somewhat challenging, exercises you repeat to try and hone a certain skill. In the case of programming, this can come in the form of working through some older books, as stated in the pattern. The idea of dodjos for programming also sounded enticing, as one issue I found with practicing on my own is a lack of feedback on what I produce. Solo practice is still effective to some extent, but I often find myself wondering if what I am doing is an effective way of solving the problem, or if anyone has devised a better one. This is the exact problem that a dojo addresses and is something I might have to take advantage of in the future!

This pattern has not really changed the way I view software development, at least in terms of practice. This is because I did not have a clear view of how to practice effectively in the first place. I have now been provided this new way of approaching practice that sounds both more engaging and effective than anything I could devise. I now understand that my practice session must involve short, challenging exercises and I must use others as a resource to compare my results and, ultimately, learn. I don’t really have much to disagree with but I did decide that I probably would not use those extremely old books for practice. As exciting as it would be to understand that older knowledge, I have more immediate things to learn.


From the blog CS@Worcester – My Bizarre Coding Adventures by Michael Mendes and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Motivation

For this first blog post I chose a pattern that focuses on something I have struggled with on and off almost every semester, this being motivation. I am usually very gung-ho when beginning any sort of programming class, or personal project, but eventually I find that I just get completely buried. This can be for a variety of reasons, being other schoolwork or simply getting lost trying to solve increasingly more complex issues, but it happens consistently enough to be concerning. After reading this however, I do have some ideas for ways to try and cope with this should, or more accurately when, I get stuck in this rut once again.

Personally, I found this pattern to be very helpful, as it resonated quite well with me. I have been getting frustrated with a lot of my recent work, as it is all in relatively new languages I only have a vague grasp on, but I now realize what these are. As stated in the pattern, you have to set aside what you are comfortable with in order to grow, and these states of remaining in your comfort zone are classified as Golden Locks. I just have to understand that a part of the journey to becoming a master in this craft is resisting the urge to remain where I am, in terms of my knowledge. Beyond this, all of the examples used in the pattern felt very relevant and did a sufficient job at helping me relate to what the author was trying to convey.

I would certainly like to say that this pattern will have some effect on the way I think about software engineering. I have realized and acknowledge my issue with my motivation, being that I am simply on the road to mastery and must keep in mind that everything I am struggling through is just a part of that process. I cannot just retreat back into only really caring about Java, I have to continue working with these new languages as I encounter opportunities to learn them, otherwise my career, and most likely my passion, will stagnate. Maybe this is due to a lack of experience, but I did not find myself disagreeing with anything said in this pattern really, it was a good read!


From the blog CS@Worcester – My Bizarre Coding Adventures by Michael Mendes and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sweep the Floor

            In the “Sweep the Floor” learning pattern of the Apprenticeship Patterns book focuses on the transition when joining a team. Being the newbie is not an easy task, especially when unsure of your skills, so finding your place and claiming suitable work can be a struggle at times. Since I will hopefully be joining a software development team in the coming years, or even next year as an intern, getting accustomed to working on a team and proving my value while not finding myself in too deep on work that I am not ready for will be a somewhat tricky line to toe. This pattern focuses just on that.

            The idea of sweeping the floor, while not meant to be taken literally, can be a literal task. It means to take the tasks that need to be done but no one wants to do. This can either be menial tasks or simply tasks that are painfully boring or something. Although not attractive, this can be a way to start making progress on a team and pay your dues. It can help gain the trust of the team if the tasks are done well, oftentimes because they can be important sub-tasks which free up the way for higher-level developers to make more meaningful progress, so they’re still quite important.

            Having the humility to take on tasks like this is not something I’m worried about; I do not come into the field with a large ego. I knew nothing about computer science before I started my major. I’m not afraid of having to build from the ground up. I’m actually quite eager to. Others’ evaluation of my work will be the most valuable to me, a concept which is alluded to in many other learning patterns within the book. I think this is a great idea and helps carve out a position on a team which can only stand to grow.

            It’s also important to consider the downsides that the pattern mentions as well. Becoming the one that other developers dump the meaningless/annoying tasks on is clearly not the goal, so making sure to not get complacent and expressing an eagerness without overstepping bounds is essential. Nevertheless, I love this idea and plan on going through with it once I join a software development team.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Marcos Felipe's CS Blog by mfelipe98 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.