Booster2013 conference notes: On coding dojos & advice for student developers

Puh. The second conference day is already over for the Booster conference 2013. Later this evening we’ll have a geek beer but I thought I would just jot down some quick notes. Here I’ll just write a bit about the coding dojo workshop we went through today as well as the open space excercise.

Making may way to the conference hotel early in the morning Standing in line for free coffee made by a professional barrista. Luxurious indeed.

Coding dojo: Implementing the ‘gilded rose’ #

People solving a coding kata through pair programming

The concepts of coding dojos and code katas have been inspired by the act of honing your skills that we see within the Martial Arts, its principles can be read here.

Emily Bache lead today’s coding dojo and challenged us to go through a coding kata called the Gilded Rose (github link). Pdf slides: Coding Dojo Challenge Booster 2013.

The coding kata was an excercise in first writing tests for a hairy bit of code based on a fanciful specification before refactoring it. It proved to a good learning experience. I litterally want to jump back into refactoring the code right now just to see how elegant I can make my javascript solution. Great fun!

Open space excercise: The law of two feet #

Getting informed about how an open space excercise is conducted.

Today’s open space excercise consisted of participants suggesting topics they wanted to talk about and walking around sitting down at some place that you found contained an interesting discussion. If you don’t find the topic interesting you just talk with your feet by moving to another discussion circle. The Booster conference really focuses on getting people talk to each other and that is why they made sure to include long breaks, great coffee, longer participatory workshops, short lightning talks and this open space excercise.

At the beginning I went up on stage and pitched Pils & Programming as a topic that I wanted to talk about to the crowd. I feared that people would be taken aback by this and no one would show up to my circle but thankfully some people did! And we ended having a nice discussion on how to grow the Pils & Programming concept after I had given them an introduction.

I stayed in the same circle for the second part of the open space excercise because there was a developer who wanted to give advice to students. Since the advice given by him and other developers who joined later was so awesome I had to write up some notes on this.

Don’t get a job. Actually don’t get a job in consulting was the advice. “You can always get that high-paid job alongside a hefty mortgage later.” The point is that it is now that we students have the chance to do something crazy, make a startup or work abroad at some fun place. “As an IT-student chances are that a lot of companies are fighting to get to hire you straight after school and even during your studies. Don’t just hop on the first job offer because you might find a much cooler job out there.” I can confirm this as a lot of my fellow students have already signed with larger companies. Personally, I want to try and start my own firm come summer. If that startup explodes I’ll just get a job in IT maybe even abroad.

The older developers argued that large consultancies pay high salaries and hire students because they’re willing to work longer hours to “feed” the managers who don’t want to work as much since they want to spend time at their cabins. Think of a pyramid in which you need students coming in at the bottom to support the growing hierarchy of managers and senior developers. A little cynical but not too hard to believe. We were warned against staying at a job that bored us, if ever we wondered if we should quit a job “quit that job then” were their advice. Paradoxically quitting a job may lead to a higher salary faster than a yearly increase in pay.

Short tips: Always challenge the rules when working within a consultancy. Ask why five times if you encounter company rules that make no sense. Best practices should be rephrased as recommend way of doing things and have an expiration date. Don’t get a job within a bank or an insurance company, “you can get a job like that later when you’re tired of things.” Get a job at a small company and don’t be afraid to work abroad (often times the pay is just as good as in Norway).

At the end one of the developers provided us with a disclaimer saying that he would not be held accountable for any of this advice he gave. If you take all of this with a grain of salt I think it’s good advice.

Looking for this evening’s Geek Beer. Apparantly there’ll be an open bar?