Parting Words…

Yesterday was my last day with my September group of apprentices at the Software Guild.  We bonded fairly well throughout the cohort, and it was great to hang out with a group of them last night afterwards.  I woke up excited yesterday morning because we’re graduating this group of talented individuals who have worked hard and kicked butt throughout these past 13 weeks, learning C# or Java, as well as SQL and some front-end stuff (CSS/JS).  In past cohorts, I have had separation anxiety bite me on the last day, but yesterday, that didn’t happen.  There was something about these groups that made me more proud than nervous for them.

Some Parting Words of Advice

  • Once you get a feel for your job and new life, if you have time, take on side projects to keep your skills sharp.  Try to stay up on technology.  If you need ideas for side projects, come to any of us and we’ll be able to inspire you – either from personal inspiration or from others.
  • If you’re more social, then get involved in your local tech community.  If you aren’t sure where to start and are in the Cleveland area, check out Cleveland Tech Events – one of my sites!   If you’re in Akron, there’s – one of my friend’s sites!  Otherwise, check out this past blog post where I offer other ways to find community.
  • If you’re in the Cleveland area or in a neighboring state, don’t be surprised if I’m speaking at or organizing a conference or user group near you.  I haven’t talked about my community life much in the classroom, but know that I am in the community and may run into you there.
  • If you see me in the community, come say “hi” and follow up with me!  I love hearing from past apprentices, seeing what they’re up to, soliciting feedback on where we should be going, or even just catching up personally.  The storyteller and listener in me enjoys catching up – so please come say hi!


From “The Farewell Toast”, as covered by Brigid’s Cross:

May your joys be as deep as the ocean
And your troubles as light as its foam
And may you find sweet peace of mind
Wherever you may roam

Here’s to a wonderful group of apprentices who I was privileged to work with!  Look out world – here they come!

And if you’re interested in hiring entry-to-junior level C# or Java developers, join the hiring network at the Software Guild!  I work in-person with the group in Akron, and I sometimes deal with our Minneapolis and Louisville groups online.  Knowing the curriculum, contributing to the curriculum, knowing the other instructors – this is a solid program taught by individuals with a decade or more of experience and an undying passion for technology and education.  I am thankful for working with such an exuberant team!

Lessons from the boat

Last week, I started working on my part-time contract with LeanDog. In the 3 days there, I’ve been privileged to work with a great team (Mike Lutton, Tim Conner, Bill Holmes, Huey Petersen, and Doc Norton). These are just some of the things I’ve observed so far.

Team Collaboration

As I mentioned above, I’m working with an awesome team. We have different backgrounds and can feed off of each other’s past experiences and strengths. It was great to feel a good chemistry with the team early on. But we’re not the only team on the boat. They have other teams for other projects, and it’s great to see those teams working together and bouncing off ideas as well. Yes, even though there are language differences (Python vs. Ruby vs. .NET vs. Java vs. others), we can still learn quite a bit from each other. Working on a boat surrounded by such diverse talent and collaborating with the groups – it’s been a great experience so far!

Pair {Anything}

This past week, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of experiences that weren’t afforded to me in other jobs. Since I’m still learning the ropes of the project and still the new kid, I’ve been able to pair with one of the guys in trying to work with some stuff. We’ve had pair testing, pair troubleshooting, and have decided that you can probably pair on any task.

But wait… our team knows no limits. While pairing works, sometimes, you need to solve a problem or learn a technology as a team effort. This is when Tim Conner’s “quinting” comes into play – 5 of us, 1 codebase, all figuring out the joys of Gherkin and SpecFlow.

New agile technique: quinting. Great Gherkin/Specflow session yesterday with @hueypetersen, @mlutton, @sadukie and @wch42 @leandog.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

And now a pic of quinting (thanks to Mike Lutton!)…

Understanding TDD

In my past job, they talked of TDD as a goal, but never something that was really well-explained. Thankfully, most of my friends have been exposed to TDD, and I’ve actually listened to them, even at times when I would ask “Why should I write more code?”. If I’m asking “why”, I’m either not convinced of something or really am curious to know why to use something and will “why” my way to an explanation that makes sense. All of the things they’ve told me really made sense this week when I saw unit tests. Everything just clicked and made sense. There were even times when I looked at a test and realized “That shouldn’t be behaving like that.” Having been nervous about TDD and then just dropping into that environment – I’m very happy in this setting.

Feeling at Home

It’s nice to go into a place and feel at home, even as a contractor. In many places, I’ve seen contractors treated as outsiders, locked with more restrictions than the average employee. I’ve seen companies treat contractors as second-class citizens at times. And those are the companies I remember… so that I never contract with them. While working on board, I don’t feel like an outsider… I truly feel like a LeanDogger, and that helps me take pride in working for them even more.

Going Forward

I’ve known many of the guys at LeanDog for awhile, as they are well-known in Cleveland’s tech community. LeanDog hosts many user groups and is involved in a variety of the tech events here – including Ignite Cleveland and Cleveland GiveCamp. I’m looking forward to helping these guys and their clients out where I can. It’s good to finally be working alongside these guys!