Weeks 31-33

Coding Challenges, Job Interviews, and a Trip Home

It’s been almost exactly a month since I returned to NYC from California. However, only now does it feel like I’m really starting to settle into life here. This is largely because I’ve continued to travel over the past several weeks– once for a week-long visit with my family in Missouri and also for weekend trips to various cities where my partner is considering attending graduate school in the fall. Finally now there are no impending trips on the horizon, only lovely visits from other people coming here to look forward to.

After two seemingly endless weeks of submitting job applications with little concretely positive feedback (Weeks 29 & 30), the week before I went home to Missouri I had three in-person technical interviews with companies in NYC. The length and format of the interviews varied from an entire day long, pairing with developers as I would if I were working at the company on a normal day, to a round-table style of 2-hours worth of interviewing with 4 different developers, to a one-hour pair programming with a senior developer, building off of a coding challenge I had previously submitted. Though I was nervous, all of the interview experiences ended up being extremely fun and productive. I learned loads from the developers I was working with, especially those who I paired the entire day with, and it was interesting to get an inside view of several very different tech companies. In each case, once we started working together and I was able to (somewhat) forget about the fact that I was being evaluated for a potential job, it was exciting and fun to get to talk with more people about my code and to work through problems together. I take my enjoyment of these processes as further evidence that I’m pursuing the right thing!

And, I’m excited to share, I’ve accepted a position as a developer apprentice at one of the companies and will start this upcoming Monday. Generously, they were willing to take me on despite the fact that I will more than likely be leaving New York City at the end of the summer, which, understandably, was a deal-breaker in the other two cases. I can’t wait to be a part of a professional software consultancy team, and still feel rather in shock that someone is willing to pay me to do this work. I know it will be challenging, and probably pretty overwhelming for a while (maybe for always?), as I work to pick up their technologies and learn their workflow as thoroughly as I can, but I’m excited and feel ready for this challenge.

As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t have that much code to share from recent weeks, as I think companies would likely frown upon me sharing my solutions to their coding challenges. However, there are a couple general observations I’d like to make about the hours I’ve spent working on such code challenges over the past few weeks, as they’ve seemed largely like a really good use of my time.

1.) It’s good practice to have to interpret coding instructions written in ways, and with vocabulary, that’s unfamiliar. There were several times when I felt confused or overwhelmed when initially reading a challenge description. However, once I slowed down a bit and looked up the unfamiliar phrasing, I realized that they were usually asking for things that I knew how to do, just in different terms. Also, the research that I did in order to better understand the questions often made concepts that I had only somewhat understood before become more clear and concrete. Moreover, I’d never seen an “interface specification” before, and now I feel comfortable with designing a solution to a problem given in such a format.

2.) Unit testing– A few of the challenges required thorough unit testing to accompany my solution. Because I hadn’t ever written tests in JavaScript before, this required me to spend time learning about testing (something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but hadn’t prioritized). It turns out that testing is really fun and also makes loads of sense. Refactoring my code has also become a lot more enjoyable since I started to use tests. Note: I haven’t done any front-end testing yet, but I’m looking forward to learning about that too.

Only a couple of code challenges and interviews ended up having hacker-rank style algorithmic questions, but I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in the past few weeks practicing such challenges on the Codewars website. (They’re addicting!) Here’s the link to my GitHub where I’ve been storing some of my solutions: https://github.com/bolducp/codewars, and the link to my profile: http://www.codewars.com/users/pbolduc

I’ve also continued to work on a couple side projects– 1.) building a website for a future alternative high school: https://github.com/bolducp/bristleconePineSchool 2.) a web app that allows users to make book recommendations to other people (I just started this one yesterday, so there’s not much to see yet, but I hope to get it finished before I start work on Monday): https://github.com/bolducp/bookMarkers

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