What It’s Like To Work After Getting A Degree Online

You might have seen her here or even spoken to her here on Workplace, but this week we have a guest post from Debbie. She’s one of our first graduates from our Front-End Web Development course. She’d played around with different online courses in coding before, but really found what she was looking for with OpenClassrooms. Fast forward 8 months, Debbie has completed all projects and managed to get herself a job at Logitravel, a holiday booking site based in Palma, Mallorca. 

We’ve been following Debbie throughout her entire time with us, so were very curious to know how she was getting on in her new job. This is how her first week went…

 

My first week in work was amazing; challenging, new and definitely different to anywhere I had worked or experienced before. I had just spent more or less the last 7 months studying full time and practically looking at only my 4 walls and my computer screen. Ok, my walls are really not that bad and I have a lovely window with great views of the mountains, but you know what I mean. One of the things I found the most difficult whilst studying online was the lack of  human interaction and my weekly sessions with my mentor were so valuable to me as it meant I could see and hear a real person and have a proper conversation. To go from that to working in an open plan office surrounded by 50 programmers, and that’s just on one floor, is much more than I could have hoped for. You may think working with so many people in such an open space would require headphones and be just as solitary as before, but I was surprised to find that I don’t really notice anyone. Everyone just gets on with what they have to do and the person I speak to the most is my colleague, with whom I get on great who seems to have lots of time for me and my many questions. 

I have mainly worked for start ups before – so small companies and small projects – so to go from that to where I am working is pretty ‘wow’ in every respect. Not just the huge amount of programmers, but all the code that makes up the projects, not just one project but all the other projects. It is a lot to take in – how everything is structured and how everything works – but it is by far more organised and structured than what I was used to, so it really wasn’t difficult to get the hang of.

Lunch is pretty crazy. There are just so many people. I guess you could say after eating on my own for so long it felt strange to have to wait for one of the many microwaves to be free and find a place on one of the tables. Having lunch with other people and just talking about normal, everyday, non-tech stuff is just really nice.

One of my first tasks was to create a really simple component, a small part of the website from a mock up, not difficult at all but understanding the way it should be structured and what files have to be imported where was probably the most confusing of all. But once you do one the next one is easy.

My biggest challenge so far was being asked to find a solution for missing images on the live site. Now, this whole thing felt real. I was asked to dive into someone else’s code and figure out why something wasn’t working. Of course, this was a pretty urgent task, as white empty spaces on the website is never a good thing. This is when I really had to put into practice what I had learnt. I had no idea if I could fix this problem but I was going to give it a go. In a way, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack but I was determined to find it. I had spent a lot of sessions with my mentor at OpenClassrooms using break points to see what was going on at a given point in the code, so I applied this to my work here. I pretty much wrote comments on what was happening on every line of code so I could figure it all out, before finally finding out that one variable was completely undefined and was therefore not returning an image. It felt good to be able to completely understand what was going on and also what was going wrong. Then, the coolest thing was pushing my changes to the live site and seeing the fix live. That was a pretty proud moment, part of my work is now live on the site. Now that’s what I call job satisfaction! 

I continued to work mainly with JavaScript, creating tasks and figuring out ways to do things. My brain is on overdrive and the days just fly by. In previous jobs, I used to look at the clock every single minute. Time would just drag. Going to work was a chore. Coming back from holidays was like a deep depression. Now, I jump out of bed in the morning, I love going to work, to see what challenges I will be given and to see if I can figure them out. I love the team I am working with and being surrounded by so many people, going to meetings and having a say in how things should be done. I still kinda feel like it’s just a dream, but maybe in a way it is. I have worked so hard to get my dream job and I guess this is what it feels like when you get it: a dream.

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea of my capabilities and I am surprising myself by the minute. And to think that I gave up studying JavaScript all those years ago because I thought I wasn’t clever enough. I am so glad I gave it one final try this year and, thanks to OpenClassrooms and my mentor, I think I have pretty much mastered JavaScript. It’s extremely incredible to think that 8 months ago I couldn’t write or understand anything and now I am working with it every day.  That’s pretty amazing, right? 

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