I missed a whole bunch of weeks. Sorry, guys. But I want to see this blogging thing through to the end, and Omaha Code School is so close to done (only one more week, omg) that I might as well keep going.
If you’re wondering, this is what happened the last few weekends that more or less deterred me from working on my blog (and then once the following week actually starts, all is lost):
- Weekend after Week 8: I wrote the blog post Sunday night, but then the rest of my week was monopolized by our large project and I had NO TIME to do the doodles.
- Weekend after Week 9: All time was consumed by the large project which was due on Monday.
- Weekend after Week 10: Family emergency took up the entire weekend and part of the beginning of Week 11.
- Weekend after Week 11: Blogging was finally able to happen, yay!
Well, let’s get to it. Weeks 8-11 recap!
Monday, April 14th – Friday, April 18th
After the trials and tribulations of individual project week (week 7), we were able to take things a little slower during week 8. We spent the whole week revising last week’s projects with Sumeet’s blanket suggestions, like making our database look-ups less intensive, working on the front-end of the website and making it more presentable (some of us that already have front-end experience didn’t need to spend as much time doing that as others), cleaning up the code on the back-end, etc.
The things we learned this week during lecture just built on knowledge we already had, so nothing was ENTIRELY new. Like, we learned how to use Jekyll, SASS (which just builds on our CSS knowledge), HAML (which just builds on our HTML knowledge), and so on. This was also when I started thinking about redesigning my portfolio site, with the knowledge that the end of school was looming soon. I knew I wanted to code a functioning clock face and incorporate that into my portfolio site somehow, and…that was it. I love clocks.
We knew that Week 9 would be the largest group projects, where we would have a group of 6 and a group of 7. But we didn’t know anything else, and Sumeet wasn’t letting us in on anything else. And so…
Monday, April 21st – Sunday, April 27th
Omawho is a networking site, specifically for the Omaha creative community. You’re able to add your face to the site and some information about yourself. Sumeet made this site originally, and we were tasked with redesigning it.
Andy ended up being the technical manager for SMAC (Sock Monkeys Against Cancer), which is a project for donating sock monkeys to people with cancer, and that group worked on an application for managing pairing donators with people who wanted sock monkeys.
After my moment of panic was done (well, my “moment” of panic was never REALLY done, but at least once the initial shock had passed), I figured Andy had to be the manager of the other project because he’s so organized and has leadership qualities and is one of the fastest learners in our class, so he would be good at helping people who are stuck.
But I was a manager. Me. Why me? I would have never volunteered for this.
Week 9 was a hard week, in more ways than just doing lots of coding. It took a lot of effort to put myself into a leadership position, but I found that a lot of my administrative skills carried over into being a leader. I’m very organized, so after some hiccups in the beginning trying to figure out exactly how to delegate work to my team, I think I got the hang of it. And it helped that we all like each other, because I’m not very good at getting on people’s cases if they’re slacking or whatever. We’re all naturally hard workers, and we all really wanted to do a good job of redesigning Omawho, so I didn’t have to be pushy very often…which is good, because I’m not good at being pushy.
Also, like Andy, I pick up on new concepts quickly, so I was able to help my teammates when they got stuck. I think that was one of my favorite parts of being manager. As reluctant as I was to be in a leadership position, I feel like I’m a good mentor, and I enjoy helping people and teaching.
For most of the project, we were on track with the schedule I came up with at the beginning of the week. I did more and more coding towards the end of the project as it came down to crunch time (in the beginning, I was mostly focusing on management things, like proofreading code and breaking down goals into smaller tasks and delegating work, etc.). Despite having so many front-end coders on our team, by Friday we were still coding the front-end and my back-end people were for the most part done, and they just worked on debugging and writing their tests over the weekend.
Our team has three designated front-end coders (Kaitlyn, Michael, and Jay) and two back-end coders (Brandon and Dan). And I consider myself more front-end than back-end, so it was more like we had four front-end and two back-end. This was probably because our team was more focused on redesigning an existing project (therefore much more front-end code), and SMAC was building a project from the ground up (they had four back-end developers and two front-end developers, plus Andy who’s strong in back-end).
So I’ve figured out logically why our teams were organized this way, but…
By Sunday afternoon, I thought we had Omawho to a presentable state, and I was so exhausted that I accidentally fell asleep around 8 PM.
But then I woke up around 11 PM to like a million bug reports that my teammates and Sumeet found in just 3 hours, and I was like…
Monday, April 28th – Friday, May 2nd
Monday morning, I felt less bad because it seemed SMAC was fairly behind, too (more behind than we were, but they had a more massive project that they were designing from the ground up; at least we had an already existing site). Sumeet asked us if we would like another hour to work before our class presentations, and I said yes so we could tackle the largest bugs.
While we were working, Sumeet came over and cheerfully announced that he had launched the Omawho redesign to the live site.
I’m not sure what the look on my face was that made him burst out laughing, but it was probably something like:
(I had also switched to straight black coffee the past half a week, so the look on my face was probably 80% horror and 20% “This coffee is really bitter.”)
But our presentations went well, and I guess Omawho isn’t broken, but there are still bugs that we’re working on.
All of my team did a great job, and I’m really proud of what we were able to do in a week. It’s also nice that at least for right now, all six of us seem interested in continuing maintenance on the site.
If you already had an account on Omawho, your information was transferred over from the old database. Otherwise, you should totally sign up. :) There are new features, like being able to add pictures representing your work to your profile page, and a game that lets you guess people’s names and work places, etc.
After presentations ended around 11 AM, Sumeet took us all out to lunch, and then I went home and passed out.
Then the rest of week 10 was pretty laid back. Like week 8, we had lectures that didn’t teach entirely new concepts, but they enhanced our previous knowledge, like how to do more intensive searches using Solr, how to cache information, and so on. On Friday, we had a field trip to Goodtwin, and the guys there were really funny and great. It’s too bad they’re not hiring right now, because I really liked the environment and the people there.
Monday, May 5th – Friday, May 9th
Okay, we’re finally on the week I should be blogging about, haha. We spent Monday and Tuesday preparing for our presentations at 1 Million Cups. 1 Million Cups is an organization where usually a business owner will talk about their business and receive feedback, but for us, the format was geared towards our projects.
Both large group teams (SMAC and Omawho) got to present, and we were surprised about how many more questions we were asked about our experience at Omaha Code School than our actual projects. But I guess the idea of a web development boot camp is so new to the Omaha area that people are really curious, and we have a lot to prove since we’re the first class.
I think we represented our school well, though. We’re all a smart, capable bunch. And so many of us went from zero experience to ready for an entry level job.
After 1 Million Cups, we took a field trip to Agape Red. They’re one of the larger businesses we’ve been to, but they’re still not huge. They were also all very nice, and we hung out for a while after the actual talks, just chatting and making friends. Michael Struthers of Agape Red has been really helpful while we prepare for jobs; he gave a talk on Thursday about how to write our resumes and prepare for interviews.
Thursday and Friday were entirely dedicated to preparing for jobs. I redid my resume and added all my newly acquired skills and experience, and in my spare time during weeks 10 and 11 I redesigned my portfolio site (and also continued debugging Omawho). It’s…done enough, I guess. I’m still going to add a picture of myself to my “About” page probably, and a downloadable PDF of my resume, and set the URL to caraheacock.com, blah blah blah nothing is ever done.
You can check it out here.
Going into the final week of Omaha Code School, I’m pretty nervous but also excited to find a job doing something I love. I really enjoy coding, and it’s like every project is a puzzle to solve, and I love the challenge. I’m going to start job hunting soon, and I would love to find a job at some sort of graphic design firm doing the front-end (and maybe also back-end) for web applications. Wish me luck!