Academy Week One: Mind Blown
It’s the end of our first week in the latest Made Tech Academy cohort. My mind has been truly blown.
I was excited before joining Made Tech, in fact, when I first read about the Academy programme, it looked different from any other job advert I had seen for graduates. The culture stood out for me in particular, the emphasis on continued learning not just in the Academy but the fact every member of staff has Friday afternoons to learn and develop their careers.
After joining, my expectations were exceeded. There’s always a fear that the job advert would be all marketing. I’m glad to report that’s not the case at Made Tech. Here’s why…
Thrown into the deep end with mob programming
During the first couple of days we were introduced to a new way of learning: mob programming. It’s a practice that involves a group of people working on a coding problem together. You switch the keyboard regularly (for us every 7 minutes), the person with the keyboard is the driver, but everyone in the group will be providing input as navigators.
The idea of mob programming was intimidating at first. A whole group of people deciding what code to write, together! I’m no longer just coding in the privacy of my head, I’m now letting the whole team input into the code I am writing.
The code problems we are solving are called code katas. They are problems specifically designed to enable deliberate practice. In particular we were using them to learn test-driven development.
Discovering test-driven development
Another new concept to me was that of test-driven development. Letting tests drive the evolution of
my our code, where you write the next smallest test, then writing code to make that test pass, finally cleaning up (refactoring) and moving onto the next test.
The mind-blowing thing about this approach is that it totally reversed my way of solving problems with code. Before coming to Made Tech, I was used to dealing with a problem with a top-down method, using test-driven development encourages you to deal with a problem from the bottom-up. While it’s hard to challenge the ways in which I’m used to my brain working when it comes to programming, it’s fun too.
It’s strange to take a small step forward rather than picturing a full solution in your head, with a whole bunch of edge cases. It’s almost scary to let the tests drive your code, rather than your instincts, it’s like driving on a highway without knowing the destination.
Even though it’s scary, I have trust in this method. I wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for my expectations being exceeded right from the start of joining the Academy, and everyone’s enthusiasm and encouragement of following test-driven development.
The people here at Made Tech are yet another reason why I’m so excited to be a part of this company. A company’s culture is reflected in its people, and with all my interactions with my new colleagues so far, I’ve got a taste of how things will be.
It was great to see everyone coming up to us being genuinely excited about the new Academy cohort. It was surprising to see this level of enthusiasm for newcomers, but very much welcome.
We were assigned buddies from the previous Academy cohort and have regular 121 meetings. Having recently finished the Academy, they have lots of relevant experience to share with us and help us overcome challenges. Their experience is fresh which brings lots of empathy and advice.
In terms of my Academy colleagues I’m pleased to find that we are all open minded, and very much able to work as a team. The Academy hiring process certainly has picked a group of people willing to grow as a team rather than as individuals.
Everyone at Made Tech is willing to help, always up for a chat in the kitchen, and I can’t wait for my first Friday learning afternoon today. That, and moving from mob programming to pair programming next week!
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