Here’s what I learned after 14 Stand-ups, 14 TILs, tons of reading material, and some amazing mentoring sessions.
A bit about me 👩🏻💻
Changing careers is exciting and scary at the same time. Three years ago, I was 23, and my CV had jobs like remote English Teacher for Chinese students, Buyer at a Trading Company in China, Customer Service representative, and Real Estate assistant. Pretty random? Yes. Would I change that? Never.
At that time, I stumbled upon Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate, and from that moment, my curiosity for technology became insatiable. After the certificate, I started learning basic programming at CodeCademy, and one year later, I enrolled in an online B.S. in Computer Science. During this time, I also followed the teachyourselfcs.com learning path. Finally, last month, I got accepted as a Software Development intern at Nearsoft.
Currently, I am writing this article as part of the assignments for my internship. I hope that some of the insights I learned this week can help others in their learning journey.
Before starting, I want to give a shout-out to my mentors Fernando Calderón and Cristian Cota and the Education Team, Dayra Chiu, and Luis Lizarraga. Thank you for the energy and time you put into this.
How to Master Anything 🧠
Software Development is an ever-changing, constantly-updating, never-stop-learning career. As such, a skill that is vital in this industry is effective and efficient learning skills. Effective because “practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.” This means that good coding skills practiced for a long time will become engraved in your mind, but the same happens with lousy coding skills. This permanency in our practices is why having mentors during a learning journey is so important. Having expert coaching can help detect incorrect coding practices before they become habits.
Learning also has to be efficient. Studies have shown that reading a passage or watching a video several times is not a very efficient learning method. Instead, spaced repetition has proven to be far more efficient. In simple terms, people must plan short but frequent study sessions and review knowledge over an extended time to achieve long-term retention.
So, how exactly can I begin to apply this? There are several online resources and tools to practice this study method, such as spaced repetition apps and websites. However, during my internship, I will be using Brandon Zhang’s Notion template for my short and long-term learning goals.
How to become a Badass Developer 🖥
The premise of Katy Sierra’s talk at O’Reilly’s Fluent conference is that our cognitive resources are limited, and every task we do during the day takes a cognitive load. The management of these resources is vital to be an expert in learning. One of my priorities during this internship phase will be to be mindful of the tasks I do during the day to save my cognitive resources to the activities that are priorities during my learning.
In her talk, Sierra also talks about a study that proves Perceptual Learning to be an effective way to learn, combined with spaded repetition, makes an excellent study method.
But, what is Perceptual Learning?
In simple terms, [it’s the knowledge that] “given a large set of superficially different examples, the brain will pick out that which does not vary.” — Cedric Chin.
To apply Perceptual Learning during my internship, I can:
- Pair every day with my mentors to gain high-quality knowledge about programming practices and software development.
- Watch a very high-quantity of trustworthy videos from experts that build programs from scratch.
How to Think Creatively 🎨
In Scott Berkun’s video, he talks about ideas, perceptions, and the power of our individuality. After pondering his talk for a while, a few thoughts came to my mind:
- Every experience, problem, situation, or idea you have had in your life will help solve your next question, think about your next idea, and shape how you confront your next situation.
- Your uniqueness is what makes things interesting.
So, how do I apply this to my internship? By positively reflecting on my past experiences and as a toolkit to confront future problems and situations. Often one of the difficulties of making a career change can be undermining your past professional experiences. Even though my priority is to strengthen my Technical Skills, I will not neglect the Soft Skills I learned from my previous jobs.
Some Technical Lessons ⚙️
As part of my internship, I reviewed the first lecture of The Missing Semester of Your CS Education by MIT. During the class, Jon Gjengset explains the shell and how to interact with it. This reminded me of Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate which consists of different topics but includes an Operating Systems course.
Moreover, this lecture on the shell made me want to review the Operating System course in the Google certification to understand this concept better. However, during the internship, I will prioritize the subsequent lectures of the MIT course.
Some Life Lessons ✨
For the past two weeks, I’ve experienced a variety of feelings ranging from excitement to anxiousness. However, having these emotions has allowed me to appreciate the efforts and time put by others and myself into the internship. This insight came as a product of reading articles and watching videos that allowed me to expand my mind and open myself to a different approach.
During this week, I read articles and watched videos which goal is to explain human transcendence and interaction. Some of these are:
- How Progress Really Works by Scott Berkun
- Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence by Jonathan Haidt
- How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
- What are the most profound life lessons from Stanford Professor John Ousterhout?
The goal of my internship was to gain skills to become employable. However, it’s fulfilling to notice how the assignments, mentoring, and meetings in this past couple of weeks have also shifted my mindset for long-term personal growth. This episode in my life has become a cornerstone of my learning journey. I am most grateful for the time that my mentors have spent teaching and guiding me. More than anything, I will continue to give my all to this experience.