Mentorship and working with the next generation of developers is important to our team here at Planet Argon. We just welcomed our third round of Ruby on Rails interns from Epicodus, a Pacific Northwest-based vocational school for aspiring programmers. For the next five weeks, we'll be working with three new developers – Nate McGregor, Aaron Rohrbacher, and Mark Helt. Here's a quick reflection of Nate's first week at Planet Argon.
Starting my internship at Planet Argon
Entering my first tech internship I had no idea what to expect. Would I be working on actual code? Would they even let me near a keyboard? It was hard to say, although I was pleasantly surprised to learn I would indeed be working on some existing projects with a group of intelligent, down to earth people (and some great dogs).
Our mentor John immediately brought us into the fold by helping us set up our machines. After installing the proper frameworks and tools that Planet Argon uses, we were each assigned a ticket for ourselves, however, we would also be pairing with each other at times.
Finding my way through rabbit holes
The first ticket I was assigned seemed like a simple enough feature to add into a Rails application – if only it was one of the standard tutorial sized applications I had become so accustomed to building. It was not. When I first jumped into it, the sheer amount of files to navigate through was a daunting prospect for me. I spent quite a while just trying to figure out how the routing was working, which sections I would need to add my feature to, which controllers I would need to change, what tests would I need to write, etc.
The more I worked on the application the more familiar I became with it. Every feature that crossed paths with the feature I was implementing brought me down a new rabbit hole where I found myself reading more and more documentation.
During pair programming with my fellow interns, I also had the opportunity to dig into the applications they had been assigned. I saw just how different each project can be.
Sometimes the coding conventions were different because code had been inherited from previous developers. Sometimes the data was reliant on a third party dependency in which case you have to become familiar with that in order to move forward.
The one expectation I could be certain of was that I was certain of nothing.
I find myself constantly learning new ways to navigate these enormous applications as I struggle through them which in turn seems to increase my repertoire of skills as a budding developer.
I found working on these larger industry level applications can be overwhelming, but luckily every aspect of the workflow at Planet Argon seems to be streamlined. Learning the ins and outs of workflow protocol has been just as important as learning some fancy new coding tricks. Getting into the habits of a more professional coding workflow may be one of the most valuable lessons I take away from this internship.
From the commits and pull requests to the review and Q&A process I can see how organization increases the overall efficiency of the tasks at hand. It has been a fun experience so far, and I’m hopeful that I’m slowly becoming a more knowledgeable and efficient developer!