Masha Reko - Apprenticeship Blog

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. (Aristotle)

Day 115-117: Wrapping Up

That day has come: my last day as an apprentice.

You know, for some reason, it feels really strange typing that. I was reading through my blog the other day, and it feels like yesterday that I wrote my first post, or my first Hello, world! program in Scala. But how far I’ve come since then! It has truly been a remarkable journey every step of the way. Summing it up in one blog post sounds almost impossible, but I’ll try my best anyways.

I started this road as someone fresh out of University, with a lot of theoretical knowledge but no clue on how to apply it in practice. What were my expectations? Well, I was hoping for a nice environment for me to ease into the industry; some time for me to determine what I already knew and what required some further attention; and of course the freedom to do all that in my own way, with the help and support of people way more experienced than me. Did I get what I wanted, in the end? Yes, without question. Perhaps even a bit more.

I learned a lot, first of all. Through books, katas, tutorials, pairing/mobbing, you name it. I’ve tried things I’ve never tried before. Like Scala, for example, even though we had a complete fallout in the end. True, it may look like my choice for a new programming language backfired, but I wouldn’t say so. Because how would I know, if I never gave it a chance?

On the other hand, I also deepened my knowledge on the topics familiar to me. And I tried to share what I knew with others, through my blog and a couple of lightning talks. I never really overcame my fear of public speaking, but I did perfect my poker face at least, and did quite good talks even though I was scared. So you could say I ventured out of my comfort zone quite a bit. Could I have done it more? Well you can always push yourself even further, but I’m happy I took the baby steps for now.

Besides gaining some much needed tech skills, I also learned a lot about HolidayCheck and its teams; how they work, what they contribute to, how they organize themselves. The Business Phase was an interesting experience, for sure. Even though I perhaps preferred the comfort of my own desk, I realize why living a nomad life for two months and visiting different departments was necessary and important.

Furthermore, I also tried out the stuff I learned on a practical project, and challenged the way I did things so far. I got to learn a lot about teamwork (and also how to handle conflicts in Git, haha), and see for myself that a software project is not just about coding. There are so many other aspects to consider, too, that are just as important. And of course, I learned a lot about testing and why it should be done often and early.

In a nutshell, the past six months were really an enjoyable time for me. I got to learn. I got to grow - both as an engineer and as a person. I met so many wonderful people: mentors who were always there to help and listen, apprentices with whom I shared all ups and downs, and many, many others. And finally, I got to learn what it takes to be a Software Crafter.

While I was reading through my blog, I realized I never wrote about Software Craftsmanship, even though it was the central idea behind the whole apprenticeship. But maybe it’s better that way. I get to reflect on it today, at the end, when I finally figured out what being a Software Crafter means for me.

When thinking about it, I keep going back to one of my favorite movies titled 3 Idiots (I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially to engineers). The movie tries to convey a message that, I think, very closely resembles the idea behind Software Craftsmanship:

“Chase excellence. Success will follow.”

It has never been about writing a perfect piece of code (what is perfect, anyways?), or having 100% test coverage, or whatever. It’s about constantly improving ourselves, our skills and our attitude, so that not only the software we produce is of higher quality, but also that the people who work with us are inspired to follow our example. In essence, Software Crafters are not only engineers, but also role models. They have a certain responsibility to spread the spririt of craftsmanship wherever they go. Do I think I can do that? Well, yes, I do. I think this apprenticeship prepared me quite well for that.

Did I find the mastery I was hoping to find when I started this journey? Perhaps not yet, but I feel like I finally stumbled upon the road that will take me there. On the other hand, I wonder: does that road ever really end? No matter how far you get, if you look closely, you’ll see that even the furthest points have even further ones in front of them. So you never really stop being an apprentice. Not after six months, and probably not ever. But isn’t that the best thing of them all?

So what’s next for me in store? From Monday I will be joining a product team (Ramadama & Take Off combined). I am a bit nervous about it, to be honest, but in a positive way. It’s a new adventure, a new challenge. Some would say that now the ‘fun’ begins. I’ll try my best to spread the spirit of apprenticeship in my new environment, and maybe even challenge the way things are done at the moment. In addition, I’ll try to give back as much as possible and do more of what turned out to be one of my biggest strengths during this apprenticeship - sharing my knowledge with others. From a few weeks back I took over the moderation of coding katas, that take place every morning at 10h. I would lie if I said I don’t feel a huge responsibility on my shoulders to do it right and make the sessions valuable; however, I also feel that I have what it takes to do it. Besides, just the fact that I was trusted with them makes me incredibly proud :)

With that said, I guess it’s time to wrap up this post - the last one I’ll make on this blog. Will I continue writing somewhere else? Possibly. I got too hooked to writing to stop right now. But until then, I’m looking forward to reading the posts of the new apprentices. May they write better than me, more insightful than me, different than me, but more similar to them.

And may they have fun doing it, as much as I did :)