A few weeks ago I reached out to some developers for some tutoring, and one of them was assigned last week to be my mentor. I could not have been more excited or felt more appreciative for who I get to work with on-going through the program.
My mentor is Mike Gehard with Pivotal Labs, from their Boulder office. Mike already devotes a lot of his time to gSchool, visiting us every Tuesday for open office hours. When I needed some tutoring, he was instantly on-board to help me out. This gave me a vote of confidence that really helped me stay focused on my goal of graduating successfully from this program.
I originally met Mike at a Railsbridge workshop I attended December 1st, 2012. He was one of the instructors and helped me out on a few quick questions, but I didn't get the chance to talk to him or really get to know him. I had never heard of Pivotal Labs or any other development shop before that day, frankly I had no idea what Ruby or Rails even was when I attended that workshop. Now, of course, I hold Pivotal and Mike in very high esteem. I've been struck by their disciplined approach and their emphasis on pairing, and to have the opportunity to work with someone of this caliber at this stage in the game is incredibly lucky.
I've really enjoyed pairing with Mike and every time I do, I feel like I really learn something and better my skills. Beyond just Ruby or Rails, though, is that he's teaching me best practices like TDD. In a lot of ways, I'm getting twice the education by pairing with him. Even if I don't graduate at the top of my class, I'm going to have a foundation of some solid practices and good habits that will serve me for my entire career, no matter the language I use. Few beginners get this kind of opportunity, and as you can probably tell from my shameless sales pitch here on Mike, I don't take it for granted.
In other gSchool news, the project we're working on now is really interesting. We're using legacy code from our last project, an e-commerce site, to create a multi-tenant platform for users to create their own store. We have a really short time-frame to complete it in (just over a week), so it's pretty high-pressure.
My team nominated me as project manager, so I'm trying to keep us focused on our goals. The team is communicating really well, and everyone seems to be excited about the project (the two make-or-break traits in a team, in my opinion). My project management style is more of a meeting facilitator/coordinator, not a babysitter or control freak. I hope I can keep us focused and working cohesively. We're relying on Pivotal Tracker to guide us on the project requirements, but we also have the actual assignment document. Sometimes it's hard to have two guiding resources like that, but I think we're doing a good job reading both and making sure we understand what the customer wants.