The Two Jakes, Part 3: Web Development Experiences Leading Up To Our SD Summer

Like any students starting their new summer jobs, we didn’t know what to expect from Something Digital. Having never worked in real offices before, we relied solely on our previous interactions with web development and computer science to shape our expectations for the job. Since we are now through our first 4 weeks as summer hires, we thought it would be compelling to compare the gig to our previous experiences and the expectations we had coming in. Hopefully, we can provide valuable insight about the experience for those who are interested in working at SD in the future.

JAKE B:

While working at SD, I am building on prior web development and computer science experience.

I started working in technology in 2008 as a volunteer at the Tourette Association of America (NY Hudson Valley Chapter). As a volunteer, I designed and developed websites to help promote the organization’s cause; I resolved technical issues, executed updates, and improved usability; and I set up video, audio, and text archives, making the organization’s content accessible and universally available. I also trained volunteers to interact with web technologies.

During high school, I became interested in more Web-specific technology and combined interests in technology and healthcare. I co-founded VideoHab, Inc. in 2012 and became the CTO and Web designer. VideoHab is an interactive Web application that delivers Web-based, personalized physical therapy programs to patients. I designed the marketing website, developed the app technology, and oversaw product testing. Our clients include a professional sports team that uses VideoHab for athletic training and injury recovery.

In 2015, my last year of high school, I created Biotic Wear, an online fashion retailer. I designed the ecommerce website, and the brand’s product lines. The creation of this ecommerce website contributed to my passion for ecommerce and my awareness of its complexity.

In my first year at New York University, in 2016, I created an ecommerce website platform as my final project for a web development course. The platform

featured a product catalog, user registration/login, and full-text search.

Working at SD has expanded and deepened my knowledge and interest in Web development.

While I have used some of SD’s standard tooling at school or at home, I also learn how to use several new tools, like Magento for ecommerce. SD also differs from my previous work in the way labor is distributed. Everyone collaborates with colleagues both in the office and remote locations. I’m meeting my expectations for learning new practices and methods. I have insight into new best practices for formatting and writing efficient code, and I am doing substantial on-the-spot learning. Surprisingly, I’m even working on real client projects and quickly on-boarding to standard SD procedures. The experience helps to shape my plans for future web development, including creating libraries for building and deploying static websites.

Jake R:

Already halfway through my experience, I see the comparison between working at SD and my previous endeavors in computer science/web development. For instance, I’ve noticed that while programming at SD, I sometimes run into code issues that I’ll need to fix before moving forward. Just like for college programming assignments, I’ll have to turn into an expert problem solver, spend time debugging, and use the resources around me to solve the issues in a few iterations before moving to the next phase of the project. At SD I’ve learned how to use important tools, such as Laravel, Git, and Github. They not only help to fix bugs in code, but also encourage more organized and concise code. On the other hand, the main difference I’ve noticed between computer science at school and at Something Digital is the distinct support systems. At school, if I’m having difficulty with a coding assignment and I’m in an extremely large class, it’s often difficult to get one-on-one help from a professor. Here at SD, I’m comfortable asking my manager or any of my colleagues for assistance; everyone is eager and willing to lend a hand to help out.

Learning is my most critical expectation for the summer. It was very important that I acquire new skills and real world applications for the topics that I cover in school. I’m relatively new to programming compared to some of my fellow computer science students at Northwestern (many have been coding well before they got to college). I’m eager to learn more, and I don’t want to feel left behind when I return to school in the fall. Fortunately, SD is meeting my expectations. Even in my first week here I started learning new languages, new techniques, and new aspects of the tech industry that I had not previously considered.

I’ve also had some pleasant surprises at SD so far this summer. For instance, I didn’t expect I would work on useful projects for the company. Many of my friends and classmates who have had tech internships weren’t able to work on projects and gain hands on experience until the summer after their junior year of school. However, at SD I was quickly assigned work that put my new skills to the test, giving me a taste of real work. Another surprise is how organized each process is. This is no accident, as I have undoubtedly become a better programmer having learned about the Github and code review processes. Now, on my own time, I’m using the skills and techniques I’ve learned to create a task manager web application so that I can stay organized at school. With the experience I’ve had at SD, my personal project shouldn’t be out of reach.

In only one short month, both of us have realized how well we’ve acclimated to SD. This summer has certainly been the perfect opportunity for us, as we’ve learned applicable skills and experienced the applications of topics we’ve learned about in school. We’re putting our skills to use for the company and even for clients. Because we are growing so much as computer scientists, it’s safe to say we’re receiving a great summer experience (all thanks to our colleagues at SD)! We still have a couple weeks left of the summer and are looking forward to more challenging work. Hopefully, we’re leaving a clear sense of work life for summer hires at SD.

Be sure to stay tuned for Part 4 next week!

Written by: Jake Berkson and Jake Reifer