18th July 2018
What I’ve learned through my internship with CoderDojo
My experience as a software engineering intern at the CoderDojo Foundation has been nothing short of rewarding. I have not only been able to grow in my knowledge of software development practices, principles, and information – but in confidence and knowledge of myself as a developer, employee, and student.
What I have learned
I have gained experience in various technologies during my time here working on the CoderDojo platform. I have been working a lot on the frontend part of the stack – learning vue and about css standardization practices, unit and e2e testing using tools such as WebDriverIO, Sinon, Mocha, and Chai; setting up backend database endpoints. More recently I have been learning about Docker and how to create images/containers with it. The new booking process for the CoderDojo platform (Zen), was my first project here, and after a few months of work it is now live!
Now that I am more than halfway through my internship here at CoderDojo (4 months!), I can state with certainty that I have gained knowledge from many facets of software development.
Full stack self development
Along with the technical knowledge I have gained, I have been able to recognize valuable practices that I have picked up along the way – whether from my team or the broader Foundation. Pair programming, code reviews, and learning how to efficiently use revision control using git have been instrumental in progressing my efficiency with producing code. My confidence in my abilities as well as trust in my colleagues has grown through 1-on-1 sessions and with pushing myself to keep asking questions in order to understand concepts for myself.
It takes a village
Within the smaller dev team that I am a part of, I am constantly challenging myself on the work I do here, whether it pertains to how much I am learning or how I can perform better. My progress relies equally on feedback and honesty from both myself and the rest of the dev team.
Since my first day here, I have felt and seen such a strong sense of community within our work environment. This core value is one that has not only made me feel comfortable in the workplace, but also pushes me to do better with my work at the Foundation. Weekly meetings helped to solidify the ideals that I believed CoderDojo to have – that it takes a village (more or less). CoderDojo is the village and everyone within it pushes and supports each other in doing their best. From those weekly meetings, to lunches, to hanging out after work – my time with the broader team here has been nothing short of rewarding in both time, joy, and knowledge.
Volunteering at Coolest Projects International
Coolest Projects took place in May this year and it was my first experience of the event. It was a beautiful and inspiring expo of projects, with many travelling from far and wide. I volunteered to manage the Quiet Room at the event. The quiet room was a place for those who have sensory processing disorders or sensitivities to escape from the noise and intensity of the event. Many parents or curious children would come up to the door and inquire about what the room was for. Once they were able to go in and see how calming the room was, I was immediately able to see how comfortable it made them feel.
Having a space
I had a memorable experience with a parent that day as she was leaving the quiet room. Her daughter had come up to me a few times to chat and ask about the room and the stickers and such things that were on the table near the door. She eventually came back with her mother and siblings, and she took them in there to see the room and was visibly so excited to do so. When they were leaving, the mom stopped and touched my hand and said “Thank you. She just got diagnosed.” Her profound and touching sentiment brought me to tears. I completely understood the importance behind the room and felt like it was a much needed space for those who don’t usually have the voice to say what they need or places to mentally relax. I was overwhelmed by this mother, and the other parents, who expressed how grateful they were that their children were given a space that was catered to them as people, and not just as an afterthought.
Meeting all the villagers
I was able to experience a Raspberry Pi Foundation all staff meeting in April. There in Cambridge, I had the opportunity to understand what the Raspberry Pi Foundation stands for and where it wants to be headed in the future. All of us that were new to the Foundation had a chance to sit with the CEO and have an open forum on any questions we had regarding the Foundation and our work within it. I was also able to meet the Web Team in person, many who were enthusiastic about my joining and were very open to me working on projects with them and asking for any help I might need.
Our Royal Visit
On July 11th, CoderDojo celebrated its 7th birthday! We held a Dojo for a Ninjas to show off some of their cool projects and for others to work on project ideas. Having only found out a few days prior that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were the special guests of the event, the buzz around the time and on the day was palpable. The experience of the royal visit itself was quite surreal. I feel extremely honoured to have been part of that experience and to know that I took part in something rare during my time here at CoderDojo.
Finally, for anyone who might feel daunted by coding or software development, here are some tips that helped me when I was starting out:
- Surround yourself with those like you. For me, these people were black engineers/students and women (both at Howard University and DCU).
- Reach out and connect with those like you (who have similar experiences etc) and ask for any advice
- Online resources are helpful, but for me I excelled in my skills because of the people I surrounded myself with (tech or non-tech people, who will push you are super important!)
- Try as many things as possible, computer science/software engineering is a huge umbrella field so don’t limit yourself!
- There is always more than one way to do something and more than one way to understand concepts. Search for and find out what serves you best for learning and utilize it!