The End of an Era

Published on March 24, 2016

Alright. Let's see if I can remember how to write. It's been a few weeks since I've typed anything that's not code, so I might be a bit rusty. Apologies in advance, to those it may offend. Things are winding down here at Bitmaker. Well, they are for me and my cohort, the affectionately-titled TEAM GORT. We had our last day of class on the 11th of March, and we presented our final projects to the world at large (or part of it, anyways.) So now we're set loose on the world as mostly-fully-formed junior developers. Maybe not the most glamourous title, but you gotta start somewhere.

So lets talk about final projects. Mine, as I may have mentioned, was called chortal. Our original, working title was Rmmts, which as a team we became quite attached to, but, as much as we liked it, it's a pretty terrible name for a product. So we landed on chortal. It's kinda like a mix between chore and portal, and it also sounds like a pokemon, so it's got some serious weight behind it. For those not in the know, it's an online platform for roommates to keep track of household goings-on. Chores, money, messaging, announcements, all that kinda fun stuff. It can send email or SMS notifications to remind you to take out the garbage every Wednesday, or to pay your rent once a month. You can check it out here, and if you're feeling like being a bit of a beta tester/guinea pig, sign up and actually use the app. It works, and you can for sure actually use it. It's mostly functional. I'm sure it's full of bugs we haven't found yet, but the general features all seem to work.

I worked with two people from my class, Karen and Patrick. We spent basically all our free time in the last 3ish weeks on the project, and I think it shows. I'm really pleased with how it all turned out, and how we all managed to work together. We didn't have any giant merge conflicts, and every new feature we added seemed to not break all the previous ones, which was often surprising. We had a lot of fun on the project, and I think it'd be fun to see it actually be used by real people. We haven't really had any conversations around working further on the project, but it would be a shame to just put it away and never look at it again, so we'll see what happens on that front.

This brings us to Tuesday night, the "Meet Your Makers" (get it?! because bitMAKER). We were kinda guinea pigs in this situation, but I think things worked out extremely well for everyone. Typically, the final project demo night for each Bitmaker cohort has been a series of 15-minute presentations to a room full of people. For our cohort, they decided to switch it to more of a science-fair (though they insisted it was called a "Symposium") style. Each group had a giant iMac on a table around the edge of the room where they set up a little station. Demo the app, have your own laptop handy in case people want to dig a little deeper into the code, have a stack of resumes and contact info on hand, and hope people want to talk to you. I printed 15 resumes, and had a bunch of my spiffy new business cards. I ended up giving out all my resumes, and most of my cards as well too, so I guess it was a success.

No, it was definitely a success. Over the next 2 hours, people from various tech companies in the city, some looking to hire, some not, circulated around the room and chatted with everyone about their projects. It was tiring, but a great chance for us to make contacts in the industry, and hopefully get a few interviews set up. As I said, I gave out tons of resumes and cards, and managed to snag a few cards myself. So now it's kinda up to me to touch base with these folks and see what they're all about. Except for the fact that its "Hiring Week" right now.

Hiring week? Sounds great, right? Yeah, it's pretty cool. Maaaaaaaybe a bit optimistically-titled (I don't expect to get hired this week), but it gets the point across. Bitmaker has a pretty solid reputation in the tech scene here in Toronto. So they use those connections to try and put us fledgling devs in contact with companies looking to hire people for junior-ish roles. They get in contact with Bitmaker, and Bitmaker tries to match us students up with companies that they think would be a good fit. As I write this, I'm waiting at Bitmaker for my first interview, and I've got two more set up after this, one this afternoon and one next week. Hopefully I'll be able to snag a few more before the week's out. They're generally short, 15 or 30 minute chats, but it's a good screening process for the companies. They get a sense of who we are, and they get to decide if they want to pursue the interview process with us any further.

As I've learned recently, tech interviewing is a pretty serious process. It'll generally start with a short "screener" interview, to see if you're a reasonable person who can interact with other reasonable people. Then there'll usually be a technical portion, where you'll be given a code challenge to either take home and submit later, or work out on a whiteboard in front of some technical people from the company. Some places will do another round of interviews afterwards, and then finally decide whether or not they want to make a move. It's a pretty intimidating process, especially for someone who's only really been coding for 10 weeks. It's great that Bitmaker puts this effort in for us, so that we get a bit of low-stakes interview practice, and we can get our names out there in the world.

I recognize that this post is getting pretty long, but bear with me! I'm into the final section: What the hell am I gonna do with all my free time now?

I've got a few things in mind. Hiring week is gonna take some energy, and really it's just the beginning of the job hunt. Bitmaker's gonna get me started, but I've really gotta be on it for myself. Luckily, it seems like there's no shortage of developer jobs to be had in the city, and thats before you even count the possibility of freelance work, which can be quite lucrative, but a totally different kind of challenge. So I'll be getting on that grind, which I'm weirdly excited for.

It's also a pretty big change, to go from being forced to code for 8+ hours a day, to having nothing on the go. It's definitely easy to get rusty, so I've gotta find a way to keep my skills sharp. I've got a few little projects in mind to keep myself busy and keep my skills sharp. There's a whole ton of new technologies I want to explore a bit, and now's definitely the time. It'd be good to be able to say to employers that I've got experience with Foundation, or BackboneJS, or React, so I'll try and learn a bit about them in the next little while, while the job hunt continues.

And that leaves one question. What, dear reader, will become of this blog? It began as an attempt to chronicle my time here at Bitmaker. And it worked really well when there was tons of new material coming at me every day. Things should slow down a bit now, so it seems likely that the posts will slow down a bit. I might start to shift things towards a more general blog, or maybe towards the technical side. It might be cool to write a short post now and again about a new technology I'm exploring, or something cool I've been working on at my (currently hypothetical) new job. Or maybe a post about the pitfalls of the Toronto rental housing market. Or maybe about the Leafs. Who knows. I think that'll sort itself out on its own.

And with that, I'll sign off. Enjoy the long weekend, and may the force be with you. Always.