Community Stories – Go-to-guy to GitHub wizard

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Community Stories – Go-to-guy to GitHub wizard

Below is an extract from Code Institute’s recent e-Book entitled, “Community: your key to career change success -Tips from students who have worn your shoes and from employers that want to hire you”. This is Anthony’s story.

Anthony worked in procurement and corporate compliance for the Irish Health Service Executive. The department struggled with online forms, and Anthony volunteered to look into it. From that day, he was typecast as the “digital guy”, although he had had no formal training. The HSE recognised Anthony’s talents and wanted him to upskill. He joined the Code Institute diploma course in 2019. These are his reflections on the role of community within the course.

The importance of community

“Community is important to me because, without it, I would probably have left the course. I hated JavaScript. I was having a horrendous time, I had hit a wall. So one day, I joined a JavaScript Slack channel and got talking to fellow students who, like me, were really into video games [which are written in JavaScript]. Most of the students had progressed further in the course than I had, and I came off from that call very despondent. I told my wife I was seriously thinking of quitting. “I’ll never be as good as they are”, was my thinking, typical imposter syndrome.

But I returned to the channel and would seek guidance rather than look for specific answers. Because you could use Google, or you could go to Stack Overflow and check out all these great sites, but the problem is that they become rabbit holes.

I got such great support. My fellow students really helped me embed the knowledge I got from the course in real-life examples, which is what I needed.

Anthony – The Slack Evangelist

I have been a Slack evangelist ever since.

I work for the Irish Health Service Executive, doing the frontend for all these apps we push out. On iOS, we work with Apple’s proprietary Clarus software called FileMaker. Otherwise, it’s all HTML, CSS, JavaScript, scripting, logic, lots of DevOps, after-service management and so on. It’s all-encompassing because we’re a very small team providing a big service for a lot of things.

But it’s important for me to keep connected with Code Institute, and I volunteer as hacker lead for all the community hackathons. For me, everything in Code Institute boils down to the example-based experience you get from the hackathons that I run every single month in the community.

Hackathons

One of the things that comes up a lot for people going into the big bad world once they graduate is working in a team and version control. So the hackathons are a great way of getting that exposure and experience before they go for interviews or graduate.

Most tech departments use a hosting service called GitHub, where you can set up a team for a project, and you can all work on the same code simultaneously, and then review each other’s work before giving it the final seal of approval and pushing it to deployment. And so you have the segregation of production code versus deployment code. Deployment code should never be worked on in the live setting. Production code is what you work on in a draft setting, and then you get your peers to review. This is not the experience you get when you keep yourself to yourself on the course. 

Exposure

The exposure you get from working in a team of complete strangers is huge. Remember, most of the students are total strangers, or they might have ‘seen’ each other once or twice in passing in a text view setting on the Slack app. Now they have to work together in an almost live experience where you have to get in a call. You get set tasks. You have to define specific things. And you also have to adhere to version controls so that you don’t mess up your live deployment. 

If you can tell a recruiter, here’s my Code Institute diploma and also sat two or three hackathons, where I got to work in a team, managed versions, controlled a pull request, reviewed code that wasn’t my own, and then challenged that code, and then I got to be the final approver before it got pushed to production – that’s absolute gold. I can’t stress this enough because they don’t have to rely on sinking huge resources into training you up in version control methodologies. Because it’s already implanted in your mind.

We had 100 participants in the latest hackathon. And those 100 people were then broken down into about 16 different teams, and they all built their own version of an app based on the theme of “music and game”. 

We had people who built rhythm-based games. And we had people who built tempo-based games where they would let you listen to a song, and you would be asked to try to pick out the correct tempo. And we even had people who built a Mario clone that was heavily inspired by heavy metal.

Time

Hackathons take up time, and not all people have that time. There are other Code Institute community initiatives that pick up the slack, so to speak. And they are all valuable and mutually reinforcing.

I love a good hackathon, and I do this with Code Institute as a volunteer. 

I wouldn’t be in my job right now with as much confidence in my skill set that I have right now without those people in the Code Institute community at large. So I am giving back what they gave to me when I was starting out on my journey.”

Read more community stories

Want to read more stories like this one from Anthony? Download our latest eBook and read more stories from the amazing Code Institute community. Remember, if you’re thinking of a career change to software development, these amazing people wore the same shoes as you. Download the eBook through the form below.

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