What I have learned at the CoderDojo Foundation

Suzanne is a Computer Applications student at Dublin City University. As part of her third year work experience she got the opportunity to work for six months as a software development intern with the CoderDojo Foundation. Here she shares her experiences and offers advice for other women starting out in the technology sector.

What I’ve been working on

When I started I spent a good bit of time adjusting to the platform used by the CoderDojo technical team. After getting my bearings with their system I was given my first task. The technologies used were AngularJs, NodeJs, PostgreSQL and VueJS. On this task I worked along side Graham, another intern. The task was to create a function that when someone booked an event the person who created this event would receive an email notification. This task took a couple of weeks as I was still learning my way through the stack.

After completing this I got the opportunity to work on a project with Pivotal who were working with CoderDojo on part of their system. This was a very valuable three weeks which I feel extremely lucky to have gotten the chance to experience. During my time with Pivotal I learned more about the software development world. The good thing about this was that this company took a different approach to software development than CoderDojo. For example in Pivotal we pair-programmed. In CoderDojo you are working on your own – of course with help any time you need it! It will be very beneficial for me having gained experience in both situations.

After finishing in Pivotal I came back down to my second task. This task was to create a ticket release function that allows for Champions to pick a date and time that they want their tickets to go on sale.

What have I learned?

Overall I have learned a lot. Putting what you have learned in college into real life situations is much different. I learned new Javascript frameworks, how all the systems connect together like front end, back end – this is something I have always been confused about. Although I learned a huge amount technical wise I also learned a lot of non-technical skills. I learned about working as part of a team and how everyone’s role comes together for the success of the organisation. I learned about the planning stage that comes before the development stage. I got a confidence boost for speaking out loud as I had to do this on a weekly basis on front of the team. I also go the experience of standing in front of a crowd at a CoderDojo Mentor meet up and talked about a feature of the platform the development team have worked on.

What challenges have I encountered?

I have a fear of talking in front of others out loud so this was a challenge for me before even starting the internship as I knew I would have to do this at some stage. Working with CoderDojo and having the weekly team meetings and tech checks has helped me work on these skills. Being put out of my comfort zone and having to say a couple things to a large audience was a huge opportunity for me. Another challenge I encountered was diving into an up and running system and trying to add features to someone else’s code and trying to understand how all the code works together. This would have been my biggest challenge at the start which I now believe I have conquered.

What are the highlights?

I had a lot of fun throughout this experience. While I was interning here CoderDojo merged with the Raspberry Pi Foundation which made it a pretty exciting time to be a part of the CoderDojo Foundation. The overall highlight for me of course was the huge amount I have learned and I can’t thank the team enough but my other highlight was Coolest Projects. On this day I was lucky to assist one of the members of the Foundation in speaking to participants of the competition. I got to witness the video interviews being carried out. Seeing this makes you realise that all the hard work put into CoderDojo is worth it. To see how happy the kids are when they are speaking about their projects would make anyone’s heart happy.

My advice for women starting out in tech

If you are interning at the Foundation: take advantage of the knowledge of the Foundation’s development team – they are whizzes. They know everything! Take your time your there to learn and don’t be nervous the team are so friendly and approachable.

It can be tough at the start when you go into your course if there are a lot more boys than girls. You may feel like you shouldn’t be in this course, but don’t let this intimidate you. It has inspired me to work harder to prove that girls do belong in this field. Even though Computer Science paints the image of guys, let this motivate you more and inspire you to take the many, if not more, opportunities out there for girls in tech! And most importantly, have fun!!!

For more on how we are encouraging girls in Dojos through our CoderDojo Girls Initiative and see how your Dojo can get our Empowering the future guide delivered for free here.

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