My first taste of IT

October 25, 2018

This is a guest article of Robert Anderson. He is a student who is curious and got the chance to experience our culture and people.

Robert and Friends

In above picture (from left to right): Filip H., Kris R., Matthias S., Arik G., Robert, Colin S., Vinh N.

We let him speak for himself ;-). Find below his journal.

Starting in Zurich

Over the past three days I have gotten the chance to look into the work of IT professionals at Flowable and Mimacom. In particular what they do and what tools they use on a day to day basis. For me it has really helped me grasp what working at an IT company entails.

Day 1

On the first day I was really nervous about visiting Flowable and Mimacom because I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to be doing while I was there or if I was going to enjoy it. Safe to say I have enjoyed my past two days here, and have been really interested in what everyone is working on and on my own projects that they gave me.

First Impression

Once I finally walked in I got a tour of the office and went around and met everyone that was working at the office on that day. I got to talk to the people that would be giving me tasks throughout the three days I would be there.

Getting to work

Once I had seen the office and met everyone I sat down with Matthias and got to work. I got quite lucky because there was a few problems that he had to work on as I got there, so he showed me what he was fixing and explained what exactly he was doing. He showed me the tools that they use everyday and got down to business solving the problem that the customer discovered earlier that morning.

After he finished that he showed me that I was going to be working on the charts tool that they had made. He showed me how to enter data so that in the end it would create a chart or graph showing the data that was put into it. Once he finished showing me the chart tool it was time for lunch so we went to go get Vietnamese food. It was yummy.

Charts and Tests

After a healthy eating, we headed back to the office. When we got back I had to find a chart online to use data from and then convert that data into a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file that the tool could understand. At first it was a little difficult to understand because I hadn't made the tool so I didn’t know what certain keywords, for example “Aggregation” and “Group”, that they were using meant. Once I got that explained to me I got to work writing the json file. When I finished writing the file we went through it and corrected any of the mistakes I made and then implemented it.

After that I got to shadow Filip for the rest of the day. He was writing and running tests on different features or scripts that they were going to implement. Before watching him work I didn’t even know that you had to write a script to test the script that you had just wrote so seeing this be done live was a really cool thing to experience. He also explained the basics of what he was doing which was nice because I could kind of follow along to what he was doing at any given moment. At around 5PM I clocked out and headed home.

Summary

To conclude the first day, I really enjoyed it but there was also a lot to take in. By the time the end of the day rolled around I was exhausted, but I still had a really good time. My highlight of the day was writing the JSON file for the chart tool. It was really exciting to see something that I had written be inserted into the tool as data.

Day 2

On the second day I walked into the office not knowing what I was going to be doing for the entire day just like the day before. After finding out that I was going to be shadowing Samuel that day I was excited to get started.

Shadowing Walter

When I first got there he was on a call so I spent the first 45 minutes seeing what Walter was working on. He was working on the chart tool that I had got to use yesterday. He explained exactly what it could do in more detail and went over how the tool worked. He told me exactly what each part of the system was doing and how they communicated and worked together but he simplified it so that I could understand.

Even more Tests

After seeing what he was working on that morning and Samuel had finished his call I shadowed him for the rest of the morning. He was running tests on different scripts that they had wrote beforehand. I could kind of follow what he was doing because I had seen it the day before while shadowing Filip. My favourite part of shadowing Samuel was when we went through and wrote a test script from scratch. It was really interesting to see not just the end product but exactly how he had made it and have every little detail explained to me so that in the end I could understand more or less what was going on in the script. I really enjoyed getting to see all of the little steps that go into making something that looks so complicated from the outside. After finishing that up we went to lunch.

Mimacom

After eating a delicious burrito, the Jalapeño ranch is amazing by the way, we headed back to the office and I switched over to Mimacom for the rest of the day.

At first I went to Kris and got my project for the next two to three hours. I had to come up with a website design of a company that wanted to bring people on trips around the moon, like SpaceX or NASA. I had done something similar while I as at IBM but not in this much detail so I was really interested in getting started. I started off by thinking of what the customer would want to find out by visiting the website.

Website Design

After brainstorming some ideas I turned those into questions and interviewed my potential customer or Colin. Seeing what a “customer” wanted to see in the website and hearing what kind of info they wanted to see or how they wanted it presented was really helpful in designing the website because the customer is the one going to be using the website so they need to be able to understand and like what is going on in the website. Once I finished the Interview I asked my "customer" a few questions about what to expect during an Apprenticeship, what happens after an Apprenticeship etc. After that I got to work mocking up a design on a piece of paper and then presented my design to Kris and Colin.

When we finished that I got to talk to Colin for a little bit about all kinds of different topics about apprenticeships and jobs in the IT world.

Vinh

Then I met Vinh and he went over more about version control and Git. He then showed me GitHub which I had seen before but never actually used. He also showed me the editor Atom and recommended that I use it. I was really interested in all of the different programs or software that he was showing me. It was a lot of fun to learn about what the different files mean and learn what markdown was. Then he told me that my task was to use Atom and write this blog post.

Summary

If I am being honest I enjoyed the second day a little bit more than the first, getting to see the test written from scratch was a really cool experience. If I had to pick a highlight of the second day it would be between designing the mockup for the website or learning about version control and getting to write my own article using markdown.

Day 3

Unlike on day one and two when I walked into the office in the morning I kind of knew what I was going to be doing. I had heard in the past two days that I was going to be shadowing Arik for at least the beginning of the day. I still asked what I was going to be doing though because I didn't want to make a mistake and mess something up.

The Morning

To start off the day I was shadowing Arik. He had a meeting at the beginning of the day so I got to listen in on that. Afterwards we sat down and he explained what exactly he was working on at the moment and what his current task was. After hearing about that he answered a few questions I had about IT apprenticeships.

Journal Entries

Once we finished that up I got to work writing my journal entries of what I had done every day here and whether or not I found it interesting or repetitive and how hard I thought it was. Paperwork is never anyones favourite thing but it gave me a good chance to reflect on everything that I had gotten to do and what I had experienced during the past few days. That made this article a little bit easier to write.

Web-App Design

Once I had finished up my journal entries I met with Colin again and we went over a lot about what goes into creating a web-app. It was really interesting to see what can go into things that we use everyday but never get to see how they are actually made. I learned about Angular and React and different softwares like that and he told me about MEAN (Mongo Express Angular Node) stack. It was really interesting to see the differences between how different companies or people prefer to develop web-apps. After that we went to lunch.

Meetings and Corrections

After eating I worked some more on my journals and then got to sit in at another meeting. This one was a bit longer and it showed me the importance of really finding out what a customer wants when they send you a request. If you interpret it wrong then they might not be happy with what you give them.

Then I met back with Vinh and we corrected some of the files that I had dropped into my Github repository and I finished up writing the post that you are reading right now.

Summary

The third day was a lot of fun and I got to learn a lot about web-app design and understanding what the customer is asking for. I also learned that I am going to have to work a bit more on writing in markdown so that I don't have to correct so many mistakes next time. My Highlight of the third day was learning all about web-app design and the different ways to do it.

Conclusion

To sum it all up I really enjoyed getting to visit Flowable and Mimacom for the past few days and get to see and experience what people who work for an IT company do every day. I learned a lot of new things that I didn’t know about beforehand and were kind of fuzzy to me. I have really had fun meeting everybody and getting to work on the different tasks or projects that they gave me.

About the author: Robert Anderson

Student in Switzerland that plays Lacrosse and is interested in coding :)