I finished Makers, a software development bootcamp, on Friday 13th March (yes, the irony did resonate with me as I wrote that…!) Traditionally, on the last day of the course, students show off their final projects at Demo Day. However, as we were making the final touches to our projects, we were given the news that the event couldn’t go ahead and would instead take place remotely. I think that was the moment of realisation for myself and others in my cohort at the reality of the destructive virus that was unfolding.
Certain life events can be scary. Quitting a career to learn to code was scary. Trying to find a job as a Junior Developer with no commercial experience is scary. Doing this amongst a global pandemic seemed impossible.
The same week, I attended an LRUG meeting which is where I met Adam, a Lead Developer at Resolver. He told me about the company, that they had a vacancy for a Junior Developer and we swapped contact details. I sent across my CV and in turn a tech test – a Ruby test to develop a poker hand analyser, whereby a series of tests had been written and my role was to make them pass. Shortly after, I was delighted to see that the team were impressed with my test and invited me to an (virtual!) interview. During the interview, Adam and another developer asked me a series of questions about my tech test and myself and my journey into coding. I then spoke to Sofia, a Product Manager, who asked questions about why I wanted to join the company, my interest in coding and how I would feel about working remotely due to Covid-19.
I remember my excitement as I finished the interview. I felt that it went well and also that it had been a pleasant experience and those in the call seemed warm and friendly. My gut instinct had been correct and not too long after I received the delightful news that I had been successful!
Several weeks later, the night before my first day in my virtual office (aka the dining table) I had a MacBook arrive. The next morning, the IT team set it up remotely and I joined several meetings and met my colleagues via Google Hangouts. Another junior developer, Alex (who had also been to Makers), joined the same day and we were both given the opportunity to spend the first few weeks completing a course for Rails 6. During the course, I built a movie review app. It was invaluable and explained concepts in an engaging, hands-on way and proved an excellent refresher for several concepts covered at Makers.
Having spoken to several other Makers alumni, it seems that I have been incredibly lucky with my first few weeks as a junior developer, I heard stories of on day two, new starters being asked to write a new command line app by essentially winging it and reading API docs!
My learning throughout the course has been self-led, however the few times that I did have questions, I reached out on Slack to other developers in my team who were happy to jump onto a Hangouts call and answer any questions. I spent the large majority of my time during the first few weeks working my way through the course and I also joined in with any relevant meetings. Despite being remote, I already feel a part of the team which is helped by regular communications. These take place through several Google Hangouts calls:
- Daily coffee with the development team for general chat, gaming and food updates
- Catch up with development team and project manager twice weekly to check in on what we’ve been working on
- Weekly planning with development team and project manager to set weekly priorities
- Whole company update once a week
- Training catch-up once a week (we spend Friday afternoons learning something new and update the team with what we have learnt)
Now that I’ve finished the course, the plan is to start pairing with senior developers on tickets and to do this until I’m more familiar and comfortable with the codebase. When that happens, I’ll begin to work on simple tickets alone but with the comfort that my colleagues are only a call away if I do need a hand or to pair.
I feel that despite having only met Adam in person, I am beginning to form connections with my team due to our coffee chats and incredible GIF usage on Slack. We have had a few ‘after work drinks’ video calls, where I’ve discovered my colleagues’ love for whiskey and our engineering manager’s dart-throwing skills. The process has completely surpassed my expectations and I am enjoying each day. Looking forward, when the day does arrive that we can safely go back into work, I am excited to see our office (I’ve heard it’s great!), to see how excited my dog is when she realises that she gets to come to work with me (and to see my dog loving colleagues’ reaction when they see my dog!) and for the human interaction with my colleagues. And of course, a trip to our local pub!