Week 7 done and done. Another week over and another week begins. I’ve got my work cut out for me for the coming week. Last week was a great example of time management. That was the biggest less that I learned. Things come up and they can certainly restrict you from completing all the things that you would’ve liked to but that’s life. There were quite a few things that I pondered over this week, it was more of a soft skill development week versus a technical development.
First let’s just jump in and resolidify this thought, I’ve said it almost every week now for the last few weeks but it keeps becoming more and more noticeable, passion projects help solidify your foundational coding abilities. I started the Flixter app this week which is a course/learning video application like Udemy. So how does this apply to a passion project? Well it applies because the things that I have been learning in my passion project are things that I was able to apply to Flixter. Where I was playing paint by number with Splurty and Nomster I started to think for myself and not necessarily rely as heavily as following the code (of course I double checked my work) but the process of building out a controller, model, views and gems I wasn’t relying as heavily on how to do that because I was more confident in what I was doing because I’ve been doing it regularly with my passion project.
Passion projects give you a chance to build without as much of a net to catch you when you falter. It’s about testing and trying things out because you need a solution for a problem. By doing that you get to learn by example and by mistake instead of just following along a paint by number scenario. The passion project is important and all use beginning developers should have some sort of passion project that we are working on, big or small, if nothing else it gives you great experience thinking like a developer. When I combined my passion project with my mentor sessions I get a pretty good simulation of a development scenario by being a junior developer and having a senior developer guiding through the process and help train me. It’s been an excellent resource.
Data design was another recurring lesson that I got to experience this week. This time it was out of slight fear to not screw something up or waste my time doing something only to blow it up later. This fear came from all the time I worked on nested resources a couple weeks earlier to only end up blowing up all that work at a later point. I brought this up with my mentor and he reminded me (I say remind because it’s something I know but had blinders on) that in the beginning stages of learning something it’s OK to spend a lot of time on something but then figure out it doesn’t work and then end up blowing it up and starting over. This teaches us what works and what doesn’t, it also teaches us to explore our ideas and expand on them in a positive manner even if they don’t work out. Because I was hesitant to not waste my time and try things I ended up sacrificing some coding time to wait for advice. The lesson here is just do it, try things out even if they’re wrong because it’s the best way to learn.
The last thing that I realized this week is how important having an active participation in a community is when you are developing a new skill. My experience has been excellent when having a great and supportive peer group to help me out. The important thing to know about a community is that you can’t just be a taker but you need to give back to the community. Help out, contribute, participate and the result will be you will end up getting back more than you put in. Encouraging people to keep up the good work and encouraging them to learn more is so incredibly rewarding. I’ve started to take a more active role in our little community because I want to be able to help others which ends up helping me. If I can give one person one piece of valuable information or encouragement then it has been a success. Community is what makes this really fun, it’s what makes it less of a struggle and so much more of a personal impact and uplifting experience.
Overall this week has been great for emotional and soft skill development, sure it wasn’t very tech heavy on what I learned but there is so much more about developing a new skill than just developing that skill. This week was a friendly reminder that there is much more to life than just the hard skills but that the soft skills can’t get you just as far if not further. Week 7 is a wrap and was great exposure to import things that people don’t talk about as much. Now onto week 8; Chicago meetup, group project is starting, and much much more coding. Bring it on!