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Meet Rebecca one of our new Developers

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Experts in what we do, Recruitment

Rebecca has recently joined the Digital Service working in the Rapid Apps team, here is her story of how she became a developer.

After working in education for nine years, six spent in the classroom teaching Maths to secondary aged pupils, I was ready for a new challenge. After a motivating conversation with a friend, I was inspired to re-explore a forgotten interest in programming.  Beginning with simple web development, I quickly became hooked on solving problems and building web applications.  However, I realised that there was only so much I could learn by myself and so started to look for ways I could learn more collaboratively with others.  My search led me to Makers Academy.

Makers Academy is an intensive 12 week web development “boot camp”. I began the course in mid-July, after having completed a four week pre-course covering the command line, version control and the basics of Ruby.   A key principle of the course was pair programming.  We paired with a different person from our cohort every day, and although this could be challenging at times, I soon realised that this was a great way to learn.  Each week we worked in this way on a project and would then have an additional weekend project to put into practice the skills we had learned during the week.  From the beginning, we were also taught to test-drive our code and covered various testing frameworks during the course.  Although tricky at first, this became a very natural way to write code and helped us to manage our code as we worked on bigger projects as well as to adhere to best practices.  In this way, we covered both practical syntax and various web frameworks for Ruby and JavaScript, as well as some of the more in-depth theory of design patterns and best practices in object-oriented languages.

The last few weeks of the course were spent working in groups to build our final projects. This was probably the toughest but also the most rewarding part of the course.  As well as learning more about the technologies we chose to use, we also had to learn how to work well in a team with others and how best to manage the project so that we had a working product to show at the end.  We achieved this by deploying early and then frequently after that.  We had twice daily stand ups to assess progress and used Kanban to manage our tasks.  A feature lock at the end meant we could finish the sprint by working on final tweaks and bugs.

After Makers I began applying for jobs, looking for places where I could continue to learn and improve my skills. I was pleased to be offered a job at the Digital Service as I felt that it would offer me a supportive environment while at the same time enabling me to work on projects which would help to improve Parliament and therefore benefit the wider public.  I have been fortunate to become part of The Rapid Apps team where I have been able to contribute to a variety of different projects, such as Hansard Online, Commons Divisions and a booking application for the House of Lords.  Pairing with other developers on my team, I have been able to collaborate on projects from the start and this has helped me as I start to learn more about the technologies used.  Rapid Apps have been working in an agile way for some time now, and it has been great to put into practice some of the skills I learned at Makers Academy with a team experienced in agile methodologies.

Although leaving teaching was a hard decision to make, I am really happy in my new role at the Digital Service and glad I made the decision to become a developer. It has been hard work and challenging at times, but definitely worth it.

RebeccaRebecca's alter ego for the Sprint Board!

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