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Now that you’re more than half way through your course, what has been your favourite aspect of the course thus far?
At this point, I would have two say two things really stand out to me as my favourite aspects of the course; the autonomy and the community. By autonomy, I mean the lack of grades or any stringent requirements as we move along the course. Though there is a general structure to the days and weeks, the instructors leave it up to the students, how and on what we want to spend our time. This has meant that I have had the flexibility to work on topics and projects of my choosing at various points in the course. This also means I am able to focus more on the skills I feel I am weak in or I feel are more relevant to my interests. Other than that, I’m really enjoying the sense of community and related events that are part of the BrainStation ecosystems. This includes the two talks we have every week on Friday afternoons. Last week these talks were led by a couple members of IBM’s Bluemix team (which is a platform by IBM that allows for the building and hosting of web apps very easily and also integrates the awesome Watson computing engine). Along with that, the course architect, Daniel, also talked to us about some very interesting topics in Quantum Computing. I really enjoy these auxiliary talks and the other events hosted by BrainStation as they really provide for a fuller educational and social experience.
Can you tell us a bit about your final project?
So I am still in the process of deciding what my final project will be. The current front runners for ideas are a web app for tracking work out progress. Such an app would include different workout plans and once the user logs in (through their phone or computer’s browser), they will be able to see all their progress (visually, in graph/chart format) for the last 7 days, 30 days, etc. Along with this, this app would have a very simple UI to let the user input what exercises they did/are doing, how many sets, reps and what level of weights they did for each set, etc. My final project will either be this web app or I may try to create a simple version of an app which lets users share vehicles with each other within an urban residential building or other closed community housing. The latter is an idea which I arrived at with a friend a couple of years ago, however, neither of us had the skills at that point to try and create even a basic version of such an app. Either way, I’m looking forward to working on the final project as it will bring together all the skills we’ve learned and have yet to learn in the program.
How do you see yourself applying your newfound skills to your current role?
Currently, I am not employed in any professional capacity, however, I can talk about how these skills may be relevant to my last role or future interests. Seeing as I came from a Business Development position, I don’t think my new found skill set would be very relevant in that past role. Looking forward, I can see the skills I am gaining in the WDI being very crucial to some of the things I aspire to do. Beyond this course, I am quite inclined to start working as a freelancer – combining my past work/skills in Business Development, Sales & Marketing with my new found skills in Web Development. This would mean, I would attempt to procure web development contracts to revamp the web presence of small businesses in the Toronto area. I am quite excited about trying this as I would have to take care of all sides of such a business, from Sales (cold calling, meeting prospects, structuring contracts, etc.) to actually creating and managing the product (in this case, a comprehensive web presence which could include Social Media integration, an e-commerce platform and much more). Either way, I have been enjoying and will continue to enjoy using my new found digital skills in many applications.
What have you found to be the most rewarding? Most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of the course so far has definitely been the group project we completed a couple of weeks ago. Though it was challenging to be given a new code base which we had to familiarize ourselves with in a very short period of time, before starting to implement the required pieces to complete the project, it was also one of the best learning experiences. Our team worked together wonderfully and we were able to complete our project in time and rather well. The group nature of this project meant we had to work diligently (in pairs/groups and alone) to complete the different aspects of the project. Such a setup allowed us all to learn a lot/solidify different skills very quickly. That said, I think the most challenging part of the course is yet to come as we’ve started on the back-end portion of the WDI program.
What are your goals for week 7 & 8?
In the WDI program, week 7 & 8 are focused exclusively on learning the technologies involved in creating a full back-end for a web application. This means, we’ll be learning Node.JS and some Databasing languages along with a couple of other technologies. This will allow us to create web applications which are able to receive data from the user through the UI and bring that data to the server, store it as need and compute on the data as required by the logic of the program. We have been warned by our instructors that this is the hardest part of the course as majority of the concepts are rather abstract and have less of a visual feedback than the front-end technologies we started with. However, the instructors have also been very re-assuring so we feel confident going in to this week. As such, my goal for the following two weeks will be to focus on learning these back-end frameworks very well so I am in a strong position to successfully complete my final project.