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From a student into an employee

September 29th, 2015

June is long gone and my summer at Flo Apps is nearing its end. At first sight, not much has changed — I’m still looking at the same screen as 3 months ago. But even though sometimes the Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair, sometimes it’s progress that lies in there, and that’s how it has been for me. The web is a monstrous beast, and tools to tame it are many, some of which I knew before but some of which were entirely new to me.

I’ve been working a lot on our FloMembers membership management software. This has been a sort of a fast lane to PHP, which I was only slightly acquainted with when starting at Flo Apps. FloMembers has also allowed me to hone my CSS and SASS skills. I’ve also gotten pretty familiar with the ins and outs of Twitter Bootstrap.

Apart from those I’ve been dabbling with a lot of different technologies here (e.g. a bit of NodeJS, MongoDB, Redis) and I really like getting at minimum a cursory knowledge (often more!) of all sorts of different web development tools. I even wrote a few Bash scripts (e.g. for automatic Dropbox backup on a server), which definitely wasn’t something I expected to be doing but which ultimately was kind of intriguing. I also researched different Routing APIs such as Nominatim to find distances between points. It was fun to realize how a big part of the web is just this kind of simple textual data displayed in a user-friendly way!

There’s a lot to say about the tools that are used in web development, but one of the most valuable lessons during these few months has actually been learning to work right. Technically that means knowing how to use GitHub and knowing what medium to choose when communicating — “is this a quick Skype note or should I post in the GitHub issue?” However, it also has a lot to do with how I work and I’ve learned a lot in regards to that. For example I’ve understood that even though some problems are better solved by asking for help, often persistent searching just might bring up an answer. Another useful skill is summarizing. Usually when given a task to research something I gather a lot of data. From this data I then have to find out the essential points – what is the question I’m answering here and with that question in mind, what parts of the information here are useful?

As my colleague Hermanni said in his March blog post, studying is very much a different ballpark than actually working. The clients are real and so are the problems, so the responsibilities are bigger. Then again, the accomplishments feel better, too!

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