Category Archives: Week 8

nurtured your passion

Hello everybody and welcome to another CS 448 apprenticeship patterns blog post. After coming back from spring break which was a relaxing week, the pattern that I will be discussing today is nurtured your passion. This blog covers how to protect your passion for software craftsmanship. I agree with this article when it goes over that the environment can disrupt your passion for software craftsmanship. This article gives good advice on how to keep your focus on becoming software craftsmanship like finding something at work that interests me and that I can enjoy. Also, it’s important to find the time to work on a project that is more enjoyable. I agree on this because during the beginning stage of my programming journey I would work on learning the fundamentals of programming and problem solving which was not really enjoyable and at times I felt like quitting but when I eventually move to the more advanced classes I found that I was working on more application based projects so that made me more passion to learn more but if I was just working on the fundamental stuff than I would probably quit programming because it wasn’t as enjoyable like creating applications. One of the other tips that it gives is studied the classics which was to learn the fundamentals which I understand is important, but I figure it’s better for me to learn the classics and work on the enjoyable project at the same time. I like that tip that you should find an environment that is comfortable to work in because certain stuff can bother you like co-employees, the rate of pay etc. and this can affect your passion for software craftsmanship. All in all, I think this pattern is helpful like all the rest but there were some things I didn’t think we have control of sometimes because yes, we could also leave an annoying situation but many jobs I know from experience always has its flaws but finding a job that provides more enjoyable work it more reasonable. I think this pattern is great and it inspires me to be more in control of my journey.

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

Pattern 4 – A Different Road

After writing about “The Long Road” in my last post, I decided to read the referenced “A Different Road” pattern. This pattern is exactly as described in “The Long Road”. It is a pattern that basically tells you that it is ok to step away from software development and that even if you leave, you will carry what you have learned into whatever path you choose to take. This pattern also warns readers about the difficulties that may arise if they want to come back to the world of software development after taking a break of any kind.

Compared to “The Long Road”, I very much align more with this pattern. I agree that the problem solving techniques learned throughout years of software development can be useful in other career or life paths. I feel like this pattern should have given more insight into this aspect of choosing a different road. This section didn’t really discuss how one might move from a developer position to a project manager position where such technical insight would be a massive benefit to a company. Being in a position like this and having a strong understanding on the feasibility of reaching deadlines and being able to relate to the developers working under you makes you a great asset to your company. The pattern instead gives examples of teaching and full time parenthood.

I entirely agree with the aspect of this pattern that talks about how difficult it is to find a job after having a gap in employment. I follow several computer science career related forums and this is a very common point of conversation. Whether it is a young adult who takes a gap year after graduating, or a parent who takes off the first year of their child’s life to bond more, they both often have trouble finding work after their gaps. This all varies company to company and there are definitely companies out there that value work-life balance as a core principle of the the company’s mission statement. From my experience, companies that have more of an older employee base are more work-life balance heavy. They tend to have more of an understanding of the 40-45 hour work week. There are also companies in the area of defense contracting that almost “have” to have their employees work a maximum of 40 hours a week due to contracts. It is all about putting in the effort to get back into work and finding a company that will work for you. If they don’t understand a reason for taking a break, they probably aren’t a company you want to work for.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Road to Software Engineering by Stephen Burke and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Confronting the limited knowledge

For this week, I have decided to read another pattern from the Apprentice Patterns by Adevele Oshineye and Dave Hoover. It is called “Confront Your Ignorance” for this pattern. I chose this one because since I have read about job titles in the last blog post, I believe that there is a need to go back and understand the basics of knowing what to do with self-awareness when it comes to learning materials.

With this pattern, it starts off with the context of that we identified gaps in our skillset, gaps that are relevant to our daily work. The problem is that we do not know how to begin in working on them while knowing that there are tools and technique to master. By to some extent, some of the people around us already know these things and there is an expectation for the knowledge. To solve this issue, we need to choose one skill, tool, or technique to fill in these gaps for the knowledge. It is necessary to make the trade-offs each day to hone these and be sure that to decide whatever it is alright to dig deeper or fix the other gaps in the future.

From this pattern, what I found interesting is the way it makes a compelling statement towards a real-life scenario. While it is alright to learn when doing the project, it is not appreciated for programmers with the code that may lead to another project instead of the one that was tasked.  Employers may not be okay with understanding if the educational needs is interfering with the project delivery. It is best to have the willingness to put the wider interests of the community. This pattern has changed my mind in approaching in what should I do generally with the knowledge that feels limited. I don’t disagree with anything since it does give a clear sense of being a good step towards in expanding your work to even teaching them to others.

Based on the content of this pattern, I would say this is an excellent read as a refresh in knowing what to do with limited knowledge on projects. This pattern has shown me ways to understand that self-awareness is one of the key things to be successful. For future practice, I will try to be more considerate with separating the practice material and then use those skills from it to give acceptable code for future projects.

Link to the pattern:

From the blog CS@Worcester – Onwards to becoming an expert developer by dtran365 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Knowing what to do with job titles

For this week, I have decided to read “Use Your Title” pattern from the Apprentice Patterns by Adevele Oshineye and Dave Hoover. I have chosen this one because there is a need to know what to do when seeing a job title that is given. I believe this will help me in making sure that when a job is given, it does not feel as stressful from just reading it.

This pattern starts off with the context of being hired or promoted to a position with a title as a result of dedication of learning. The problem is that the job title does not match in what you see for yourself. Because of this, there is the need to apologize or explain the difference from the skill level to the job given. By this explanation, the solution is to not let the title affect you. A job title is not meant to slow down the process or believe that the changes should be big to fully do the work. What is needed to be done is writing down a document that describes the job title and update it time to time.

From this pattern, what I found useful is the way to think about the job title as a way to help you instead of putting you down to stress. It is to make sure that the reflection shows what is it you really do and the skill level is accurate by your standings. Thanks to reading this pattern, I understand that I should be not intimidated by the job titles and instead show that I can improve my organization from one work to the next. Overall, I don’t disagree with anything of this pattern and this is because it helps me understand that the industry is very difficult to choose people that can help with the problems ahead.

Based on the contents of this pattern, I would say this is one that requires thinking from your perspective and it is effective by the end of it. This pattern has given me some ideas to approach in expressing the future jobs that might be needing clarification. For future practice, I should try to write down job positions that I found suited to my skill level and make it clear for myself so that it would not as bad at first glance.



Link to the pattern:

From the blog CS@Worcester – Onwards to becoming an expert developer by dtran365 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Sweep the Floor

A good amount of the Apprenticeship Patterns that I see when choosing one to write my blog post about have contexts, situations, and descriptions of people who are confident in their programming abilities, have a defined role on a development team, and are eager to get in the meat of the problem.

However, this context does not describe me very well. I am not confident in my abilities as a programmer yet, I do have an apprenticeship opportunity, but I have no defined role or job title, and I am nervous to tackle important complex tasks because of my inexperience. Thankfully I came across a pattern which describes my situation pretty well.

The “Sweep the Floor” pattern is for people like me who are unsure of the team and vice versa. People who want to contribute to the meaningful work in order to grow their skills and find a defined place on the team, but have only just began their position in the group. This context really spoke to me and pretty much read my mind without my thinking it.

The solution they provide is so remarkably simple that I’m surprised I didn’t think about it before to put my mind at ease. The authors suggest that in order to gain trust and find your place in the team is to in the beginning “volunteer for simple, unglamorous, yet necessary, tasks.” Hence the pattern’s title sweep the floor. If I can’t contribute to the main problem yet, then I can demonstrate my usefulness by handling tasks that are either tedious, not fun, or otherwise that the team does not want to do.

“Typically, you’ll want to focus on the edges of the system where there is less risk, rather than the core where there are usually many dependencies and lots of complexity”. This quote from the authors gave me a lot of clarity about what steps I can take in my internship to make myself known and actually be useful to the company.

However, they do highlight a risk about applying this pattern which I know all too well from other jobs I’ve had in the past; if you constantly are taking the ugly tasks nobody wants to do, there is a risk the group will want to keep you doing the boring, menial tasks. I have had this happen to me to the point where my coworkers would jokingly call me what translates to “Cinderella boy”. To mitigate this risk, the authors suggest to advocate for yourself and look for every opportunity to prove that you can produce quality work on a higher level.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Bit by Bit by rdentremont58 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Retreat into Competence

For this week’s blog, I am going to be talking about “Retreat into Competence” pattern from the Apprenticeship Pattern book. This pattern is about realizing how little you know, or when the new challenges that you have taken are not working out so well.  As you work, there are going to be many projects and challenges that are gonna be assigned or you are going to take. Sometimes, these challenges can be something you have never done before, or it might be a roadblock that you are gonna have to clear and these challenges are making you realize how little you know.

The book’s solution to this pattern is to “Pull back, then launch forward like a stone from a catapult.” They said that you should retreat briefly into what your confident on doing and regain composure. Take some time to build something that you know how then use that experience to see how far you’ve really come and measure what else you are capable of. Being an apprentice there is going to be a lot of ups and downs. You will experience learning new technologies and use it to leverage your knowledge that would deliver value to your customers. But you will also experience terror, roadblocks that seem impossible to pass through. These challenges can be overwhelming at times but it is to be expected if you want to progress.

I totally agree with this pattern. There are going to be times when you will encounter problems that seem to be unsolvable or problems that will show you just how much you actually know. In life there are going to be problems that seem impossible to solve, we get overwhelmed and try to forget about it, which becomes a bigger problem. I like how the pattern suggests that you look back on what you know how to do first.  It will show you how far you’ve really come. This process might give you hope that no challenge is impossible, you just gotta go through all the learning again.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Computer Science by csrenz and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Pattern “Kindred Spirits”

This week, I will be discussing “Kindred Spirits” from Apprenticeship Patterns by Adewale Oshineye and Dave Hoover. It is intuitive to surround yourself with people that are likeminded, trying to achieve the same goal. I wanted to read this section to know if I was going around it the right way.

I went into this wondering if they meant having good relationships with coworkers and classmates. It is always valuable to have a friend to ask for help, but it is not the whole picture. It is something that needs to be actively pursued.

The authors recommends joining or creating a group to foster your interests.  It seems that I am somewhat on the right track. I feel that I am pursuing this in my extracurricular activities. Currently, the only computer science group that I am actively engaged in is the Worcester State Computer Science Club (Re:coded, I think the official name is).

It encouraged me that the club they mentioned, Extreme Tuesday Club, boasts hundreds of members but usually has only a dozen or so people that will show up to a meeting. It seems that we have about the same ratio of members showing up to an event, with a few dozen members and a handful of “irregular regulars,” as the authors calls them.

Going forward, I would like to play a bigger role in leading our workshops. I have helped come up with some of the ideas for the last few, but I have largely been learning as I have been going along. This may not be the worst thing, as one of the apprenticeship patterns that I have read (but have not written about) is “be the worst.”

There was one quote that stuck out to me, which was, “If your group becomes large enough and energetic enough, it will sustain itself even when you are not there. That’s when you know you have a community.” I really hope that I will help it grow enough to this point so it will continue after the leaders and I graduate soon.

The thing that stood out to most was the advice to always continue to ask questions that shock the community. Something that I did not think about was what the tendency that group-think might develop. I think I do a good job of not allowing this, but I sometimes feel guilty when I don’t feel like a “team player.” This gives me permission to continue to do this, but less apologetically so.

From the blog Sam Bryan by and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Breakable Toys

As much as we want to obtain success, there is always something that leads us through that road. This pattern of “Breakable Toys” explains how there will be a point in our careers where failure is not an option. But this contradicts something that we have been taught our whole life. That failure is one of the best ways to learn. If you are conservative with everything you do and never step out of your comfort zone to try something new, then how will one succeed? An example from the pattern is that sometimes people already expect you to know everything about the issue. This can be common in certain jobs as well. One tool that this pattern suggests is to create your own wiki. This is a great tool for an apprentice because you can record what you learn. If you maintain this wiki, you can teach yourself about a ton of different topics. But the most important thing about this strategy is that you have better knowledge retention. By creating a wiki you are essentially creating your own personal archive of information and learning. Sometimes when you create things, it’s better to create toys that suite your needs. Sometimes these toys can just be rehashes of your version of some sort of industry tool that you can mess around with and learn from. This pattern is all about creating something you yourself can learn from. Building something that you can build upon in the future and continue to learn and implement. It’s about stepping beyond your boundaries and completing full software projects on your own. You should use a lot of your previous knowledge and skills to enhance them. Over time you can add a lot of features and even expand your wiki. I like this pattern because it is something that will grow with you and level you up. So there is no need to fear of expanding upon your own tools. With these resources, you should be able to act without the fear of failure in your workplace. This is preparing you for using the the tools in your job that you won’t mess up because you will have trained yourself to do so.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Amir Adelinia's Computer Science Blog by aadelinia1 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice, Practice, Practice is an apprenticeship pattern that is all in the name. The pattern encourages one to constantly practice their craft. The goal is to eventually rewire the way your brain works and thinks about things until it is old hat and you can move on to practicing something else. As a pattern, its uses and merits are pretty obvious. The more you do something, the more you get used to it and commit it to memory, and therefore the easier it becomes to do that thing again.

As the text highlights, an important part of practice is that it is not stressful. It is challenging for many to learn in a stressful environment where deadlines and other stressors may come into play. Therefore, it is important to separate your practice from your work. Although you can still learn plenty of lessons from doing things, it is practicing the basics that will lead to a stronger foundation to support new knowledge.

I could personally benefit from more practice. As I have moved on to more advanced topics in Computer Science, I have found it important to constantly refresh myself on other things that I have learned. It can be hard to try to retain so much knowledge, and I think employing more practice more often would help me with that.

A way I often practice is to repeat assignment I’ve done that I struggled with, especially before a quiz or exam. Doing the assignment over and over again helps the process become almost muscle memory and helps me retain the knowledge for the quiz. It is something I need to do more often, and during more times than just quiz or test periods, as I absolutely benefit from the experience.

Everybody wants to practice their skills, but sometimes it is hard to find really effective ways to do it. I certainly need to find more effective methods of practicing, especially when it comes to answering job interview questions, as it doesn’t seem to get any easier. I believe that in time and with enough practice, anybody can learn anything.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Let's Get TechNICKal by technickal4 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Reflecting on “Apprenticeship Patterns” – Practice, Practice, Practice

The time has come where I need to start looking for jobs in the field of software development. These jobs require rigorous interview processes, which generally include some sort of coding assessment; in fact, I just took such a test only a couple days ago. I want to ensure that I will do the best that I can do during each assessment, while also continuously improving so that my performance will get better with each interview. This growth requires practice, practice, practice, which, conveniently, is the pattern that I will be discussing this week.

Practice, Practice, Practice, as the name of the pattern suggests, describes the ever-present need to keep up with skills and striving to improve upon current level of skill. One of the common challenges, though, is that an apprentice may only have the opportunity to practice in the workplace, so that there is a risk to make mistakes with potentially harmful effects. Apprentices should have the opportunity to practice techniques outside of this environment so that there is room to make mistakes. When there is the looming pressure of causing lasting damage should the on-the-job practice go wrong, it can definitely be stressful for the apprentice. This could result in a lack of learning from any mistakes made from the process. The whole point of practicing is to ultimately learn from it, and so it is imperative to separate practice from job training.

I completely agree with the points discussed from this week’s apprenticeship pattern. It’s so important that I have the chance to make mistakes and learn from them, without having to worry about messing something up in my job’s overall system. It’s also important that I keep working on my skills in general. As I keep applying to development positions, I need to (and will) make sure that I maintain a level of consistency with my practice exercises. Using online tools such as code katas, as described in the apprenticeship pattern, as well as other resources, I have plenty of ways to implement high-quality patterns of practicing.

Thanks for reading!

From the blog CS@Worcester – Hi, I'm Kat. by Kat Law and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.