Category Archives: Week 8

“Unleash Your Enthusiasm” Apprenticeship Pattern

Summary:

This apprenticeship pattern is concerned with a new developer’s entrance in a team that is both more experienced, and relatively unenthusiastic in comparison. As a newcomer, the new developer has much to learn from the industry and from his colleagues. But with every new iteration begins a chance at change. Depending on the team, enthusiasm can benefit a team that does not have low morale, and is accepting of new perspectives.

I view this apprenticeship pattern as particularly intriguing because I am genuinely enthusiastic about working on a team with other software developers. Someone who is inexperienced in a field may focus and develop skills in things that his future peers will not require. As such, it may offer a perspective that his peers do not have, such as various coding “tricks” or knowledge that may be used as a reference. For example, a new programmer may have to program an algorithm from scratch in school, which can give him ideas about a data structure that a team may either require, or benefit from. In the field, programming a data structure isn’t as important since the language would likely offer it. 

This pattern didn’t so much cause me to change my ways of thinking as it did bolster my perspective of the field. In my experience, it is natural for someone who is good at something in a field to gradually become uninterested in said field because of a sort of coexistence. There is some mental functionality or process in every person that occurs when someone becomes used to something, such as an environment or a smell, which causes him to become somewhat apathetic. In this case, a developer that is used to the field runs a genuine risk of being used to it, and therefore, not excited from it. I personally view unenthusiasm is a strong indication of decline, and any person who becomes unenthusiastic will, all else being equal, perform poorer than his peers.

I don’t disagree with anything in this pattern. As stated earlier, I strongly agree with the role that enthusiasm plays in relation with other team members, and its potential productive results that can benefit a team.

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

Apprenticeship Patterns “Expose Your Ignorance”

This apprenticeship pattern describes to us how having the ability to identify our areas of ignorance and being able to reduce will be beneficial for us software apprentices in the future. There will be tremendous pressure on us in our future jobs to be able to work on and finish projects. They will expect us to be able to deliver software, and this is where we shouldn’t be ignorant of what we are not able to do because our lack of inexperience. This is where if we do not understand something, we should not be scared to reach out to ask questions and to learn about technologies and things that we do not understand. This itself reassures everyone of our ability to learn and by not pretending how to know how to do something, it exposes our ignorance to asking questions. What we need to understand is that as apprentices, there are many areas of our craft that we know nothing about, we can’t go around letting others believe that we know everything, but instead be able to reach out and ask questions without letting our pride get in the way.

What I’ve taken away from this is to not worry about questions because letting others think that you know how to do something and delivering something incorrect is even more of an issue. I think there is pride in being able to show others you can do things on your own without help, but being an apprentice means that you should be able to learn from others without your pride getting in the way.

This pattern has been helpful in letting me be able to understand how I am when I am given work to do in the real world. There have been instances where I have been given projects to work on at work, and I have tried to do things myself without help, this itself has led me to either taking too long on something or delivering work that I am not completely proud of. There have been other instances where I am completely unable to understand some things and asking others who understand it completely really helped elevate my understanding and learning of what I want. The ability to make uncomfortable situations more comfortable for me will be me exposing my ignorance.        

From the blog CS@Worcester – Life as a CS Student by Dylan Nguyen and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

CS 448 Post #3

For my next post, I wanted to write about a problem later in chapter 3 titled Draw Your Own Map, which was referenced in the first problem of the chapter, The Long Road. This problem is about when you do not fit career paths given to you by an employer, and this problem could be applied to any possible employer. It can be a concern that your skillset may not match what your current or potential employer is asking for and you will either have trouble with the work, or have to move on to a different job. This problem stuck out to me because it is also a concern that I have for when I go into the workforce, that I may not be fit for some jobs that I thought I was. I feel comfortable with most of what I have worked on in computer science and think that I can handle it at an official job, but there are some things I am unsure about, or new things that I may have trouble with.

Going into the solution and action, I like the idea of making a roadmap for jobs that start with jobs that you’re first looking at, then jotting down branching jobs that can stem from it, and repeating a few more times until you want to stop and look at the jobs and how to get to that point. Considering other possibilities and keeping in mind that this is your path to choose will also be helpful. I also like the idea of starting with small steps in your planning and working your way to the bigger goals.

The constant idea to focus on this being your path is especially effective for this problem because the main thing to keep in mind is that this is your skillset and it not fitting some jobs is not a bad thing. I also agree that while you can get help or tips from others on how to decide on your path, it is your path to take and your future to decide on. It will also take time to make your map, and it is expected to be changed and updated over time as you continue on your journey.

From the blog Jeffery Neal's Blog by jneal44 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Be the Worst

Christian Shadis

In the apprenticeship pattern Be the Worst, Hoover and Oshineye explore the dynamics of skill level on a team as a software apprentice. They assert that while it may seem counterintuitive, it is a better plan to not be the strongest developer on a team, for that situation yields less opportunity for growth and learning. However, if you are surrounded by accomplished developers who are more skilled, there is far more to learn from them, and far greater space to grow.

Be the Worst, like The White Belt, seems to go against the average worker’s intuition, and are somewhat related to each other. One might think that being the ‘big fish in a little pond’ is a surefire way to distinguish yourself from your colleagues and get promoted, or maybe compete for more prestigious jobs. However, being that big fish increases your chances of stagnation. If you are already at the top, there is nowhere to go, and you may find yourself plateauing as a developer. It is more beneficial to contribute to a big pond and be a little fish, because the little fish can learn and grow more, and eventually start to grow larger than the fish around it, and eventually may become the biggest fish. Combining this pattern with The White Belt by accepting new methods and techniques unfamiliar to you will maximize learning potential at any position.

This pattern is likely to be rather difficult to me, having gone to a small high school and university, and finding myself as one of the “big fish” in both. It would be very unnatural for me to be the worst member of a team, but it would catalyze the learning process and motivate me to become a better teammate (or even the best). In turn, that growth and learning will open opportunities for more interesting and lucrative positions in the future.

I hope to use this pattern throughout my career, but more specifically I plan to implement this pattern at my first development job. I plan to work at a large tech company, and that company likely would hire largely candidates from more prestigious computer science backgrounds, with more dense portfolios and extensive experience. I could perceive this as a disadvantage in the job market but utilizing this apprenticeship pattern instead would motivate me to improve my contributions and prove myself as a competent and evolving developer.

Reference:

Hoover, D. H., & Oshineye, A. (2010). Accurate Self-Assessment. In Apprenticeship patterns: Guidance for the aspiring software craftsman. O’Reilly.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Christian Shadis' Blog by ctshadis and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Be The Worst

Sometimes being the worst is not the worst thing to be recognized as. It can be a scalable thing. In sports for example, being the worst player on the Boston Celtics may seem like a bad position to be in. The reality is that your skills are far more impressive in comparison to the average person who watches basketball, and you should give yourself more credit for even making it into the league. The “Be the Worst” pattern is one that allows those who exercise it to never remain stagnant. While it is nice to admire yourself for all the progress you have made along your journey, you should not bask in these accomplishments for long periods of time.

There have been many times in my life where I’ve felt like I’ve done all that I needed to do and “now I can just chill”. That same attitude has also gotten me in a few binds during my academic career. These things occurred because I felt like I was doing my best at something and would always be the best even if I didn’t continue maintain a certain level of excellence. It seems like the view here is that being the worst is the best and being the best is the worst. In other words, you have nothing to lose if you’re the worst and have nothing but the potential to grow, but if you’re the best then you must maintain being the best and potentially face having to fall from grace.

While I understand the message this pattern was trying to get across, I feel the messaging could possibly be misleading. The author mentions being the worst person in your team that produces good work can “make you feel as if you are performing better” when you could not be performing at all. While I feel like this pattern is helpful for myself, the advice given here should be taken with a grain of salt. To me, the most important part about being the worst is making sure you have the will to become the best and repeat the process.

From the blog CS@Worcester – You have reached the upper bound by cloudtech360 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Expose Your Ignorance Pattern

For this week’s apprenticeship pattern, I did a reading on “Expose Your Ignorance”. A summary of “Expose Your Ignorance” is simply about how you may be unfamiliar with some technologies that are required to do a job and your manager and team members are looking to you to complete the job. At this point you already landed the position at the company but now, you’re required to do a task that requires certain technology like a specific language you’re not proficient in. To counter this, you must show them that learning new technology or anything is part of the process of getting a job done. In this pattern it mentions about how you should be honest and speak the truth to your clients and team members. This would allow them to be reassured even if you do not know the technology right away. If you’re able to show them that you’re learning and progressing, it will build trust and your reputation will be built upon that. Not only that but ask questions. Even though there’s already a presumption that you already know certain things since you’ve been hired, it will never hurt to ask since this is the most direct way in getting a task done and learning. The whole point to this is, to not be afraid of learning and let your team know that you’re learning.

My initial reaction to this pattern is similar to those of the other patterns where I can relate to it. In my capstone class, I am constantly being exposed to new stuff that I haven’t touched or barely learned from the other semesters, and I find myself always asking questions or looking things up on how to do a specific thing. What’s thought provoking in this pattern is how it mentions to not pretend what you know what you’re doing. I believe this is something a lot of people do, and it will negatively impact you more than anything. If you are honest with your manager and team members, they will get a better understanding about where things stand but will more than likely give you a chance to prove that you’re able to learn and do the work. Then if you were to pretend to know what you’re doing and give a horrible product. After reading this pattern, I felt more reassured that it was okay to ask questions and that it was okay if I didn’t know exactly everything. As long as I’m able to show I can learn and do the tasks properly and on a timely manner, I will be okay going into the professional world.

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

Reflection on The Deep End Apprenticeship Pattern

The Deep End is an Apprenticeship Pattern that encourages software apprentices to take risks, to challenge themselves, and to take opportunities they may not normally take. It makes sure to warn readers that this does not mean that they should jump into things that they are completely unqualified for, or do things with no thought or preparation. However, it is saying that we should be willing to take risks in order to further our learning, and should be willing to try things, even when there is a chance of failure.

I think that this pattern offers a very good way to ensure that we continue our learning, as stagnating at one job, on one project, is no way to continue our lifelong learning, tying into the Long Road apprenticeship pattern that I have discussed previously. We have to be willing to take risks and risk failure if we want to move forward (the same principle used in the Breakable Toys apprenticeship pattern). I also really liked the idea of keeping some sort of record of your own accomplishments, some archive of code we’ve written previously, how long it was, how many group members you worked with, and how large the codebase was. With this sort of history, not only can you track your progression and always look for bigger things and more learning opportunities, but you can also have a record of what you have done that you can go back to in the future, which also follows principles laid out in the Record What You Learn pattern. Being able to go back and see how you’ve changed can be an invaluable tool, and if you don’t risk failure, you will never be able to progress past a certain point.

This pattern has presented a great strategy as to how to keep track of my accomplishments and is great motivation to actually take risks in my professional career. I want to continue to grow my skills and grow, and unless I am willing to fail, I will never get anywhere. As for something I disagree with from the pattern, I guess the only thing I really disagree with is the idea that line numbers and team sizes are the metrics that your career should be based on. I think they can be useful to keep track of and consider, but in the pattern, it is kind of implied that these are the main metrics to measure your performance, and I’m just not sure they are the best ones. Regardless, I don’t think that invalidates the value of the point of this pattern.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Kurt Maiser's Coding Blog by kmaiser and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Study the Classics

                Often when we as people begin our education in any field we tend to lean either towards readings and studying our predecessors, or jumping into a more practical hands on approach. I myself have often leaned towards a hands on approach to learning. I find myself learning best when thrown into real work rather than boring myself reading textbooks and taking note of the though process of our predecessors. This is exactly how I have honed my craft for a majority of my time as a software craftsman so far. While this method of studying has its merits, it has also hindered my growth by minimizing exposure to the thoughts and theories of others before me.

                Oshineye and Hoover go into detail within this section explaining how and why we ought to delve into the books written by those who came before us. Classics such as Rodney A. Brooks’ Robust, Layered Control System for a Mobile Robot” and Valentino Briatenberg’s “Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology” have long been used in the world of robotics and for good reason. They present a series of theoretical ideas and thought processes that yield results that may have otherwise been unexpected. Briatenberg’s Vehicles guides people that are new to robotics into a mindset that inspires out of the box thinking.

Briatenberg’s vehicles are examined not for their capability, but for their behaviors and different configurations exhibit different behaviors. Along with this, one might read Brooks’ work and apply the idea of subsummation to one of Briatenberg’s vehicles. Starting with simple behaviors that are subsumed by higher level thinking can be applied to vehicles to ensure they at the very least can perform certain task such as avoiding collisions with objects while carrying out their main goal.

The goal of these theories and mindsets presented by classic literature is the same as the very text put together by Oshineye and Hoover. It will not directly help with your skillset as a software craftsman, but it can lead to utilizing what you do have in new and interesting ways. An adherence to a certain design philosophy and being willing to experiment in ways that may not have been directly taught to you is important in forwarding your own skills as a craftsmen as well as forwarding the industry when one becomes a master craftsman.

From the blog CS@Worcester – George Chyoghly CS-343 by gchyoghly and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship pattern: Expose your ignorance

I was reading chapter two on “Expose your ignorance” and got so caught up to it. When working with my team this semester, if there is something that I learned is to ask questions and not be afraid to show my “ignorance” like the book calls it. Sharing and exposing myself helped me understand that we should never feel less smarter than others just because they know better than we do, because learning and knowledge is open to everybody and it is not impossible to reach their level or even better, surpass them.

It can always happen to be caught up in the middle of a project that we do not know anything about. Some people might, and some might not. In that situation, we should let our ignorance awaken our curiosity so we can easily ask questions. People in general hate being seen as ignorant because we always want to show that we have knowledge, experience, skills required for the position or project. So, because of that, we find ourselves faking our knowledge and skills just to impress others. But software development does not work like this, it’s either we know or we don.t because the more we try to hide our ignorance, the more we’re sinking ourselves; And there will be a moment when it will be hard to get out of that place we got stuck on our own.

I love what the author said about the runner: ” She’s not training to have strong legs; she’s training to run. Like the motivated developer who after working on a Python for two years achieves a deep knowledge of Python, the marathon runner’s strong leg muscles are a means, not an end”. Craftsmen need to have the courage and humility to set aside their expertise and wear the “white belt” as they pick up an unfamiliar technology or learn a new domain.

One of the most important traits that a craftsman can possess is the ability to learn, identifying an area of ignorance and working to reduce it. As, software developers, we should not run away from knowledge and being shy or scared to expose our ignorance is not doing anything god to us. I am proud of asking questions and showing that I don’t have or I barely do have knowledge about a certain domain. And it is something that I do even with my team. When I am not familiar with something or don’t know how to do it, I just ask and the one that have the answer will provide it to me and help me understand. This is how I increase my knowledge and skills.

This is where “The long road” will take place. By exposing our ignorance, and then confront it. We will spin the missing threads much more quickly than we will by faking it in order to appear competent. And let’s remember that while we are exposing our ignorance, we are also exposing our team to our learning ability.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Gracia's Blog (Computer Science Major) by gkitenge and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Be the Worst

When reading this chapter, I found it challenging because I asked myself who actually wants to be the worst? I tried to project myself and put myself in that specific position and I found it very hard to do. However, after second thoughts, deep reading, and analysis, I am very impressed and humbled by the content of this book and this chapter. They say: “You have to be the best”, “You have to master what you do”, “You have to always be the head”. However, we never hear the opposite of those sentences. We never hear: “Be the worst”, “It’s okay to start at the end of the queue”, “We all started from the bottom”. It is discouraging to know that nowadays when working as an apprentice, the expectation and the pressure is greater than the willingness to be understanding and people tend to forget that they have been there once and act as if they were the best from the start.

 There are points the author mentioned that I found important when being the worst in a team. He talks about couple of risks associated with it like brining the team down, the risk of getting fired when falling behind or inability to catch up and feel bad about ourselves. This part tells us that it is a great thing to accept being the tail of a lion. However, it comes with some risks that require hard work and regularly updating ourselves on where am I? Am I making progress? How much time the team is granting me and what happens if I don’t meet specifications? Being the worst is just a way to make us confident in the lion’s den, but we must really be motivated to learn, we must show the desire of doing better, bringing ideas that get us noticed with time.

The last interesting point the author mentioned was reaching out, asking to join a team and observe the team’s dynamics and ways of operation. For me, this is great because it shows the desire for personal growth and the team might be motivated to take you in because you have shown initiative and interest. I feel more confident now to “Be the Worst” in a team of professional software developers because that position will unleash my confidence, allow me to be myself, learn and improve at the same time in my craftsman’s journey.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Software Intellect by rkitenge91 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.