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On the Road to Becoming a Software Engineer, Part 1

helena.soukupova | January 6th, 2021

“Why does a recruiter have a bunch of commits in the company’s git repository?”

This question has come up a lot since I started working on a React app with Dominick Caponi, an engineer on the OneLogin Developer Experience team (DevEx).

I am a recruiter at OneLogin, but I am also learning to become a software engineer. The best way to learn is to apply what you learned from books or from a bootcamp to something in the real world. I got lucky because Dominick, who was very supportive, was able to find a “job” that fits my level of coding knowledge where I can actually make a contribution to the team’s goals. What was most rewarding from the experience was learning about and experiencing the collaborative part of software engineering. We covered such topics as:

  • GitHub pull requests and successful collaboration
  • Docker containers and how tricky this could be for a junior developer
  • Remote collaboration via feedback, calls, Slack chats
  • Using popular technologies such as React, Sass, Webpack, NodeJS and Docker

Overall, the project was a major breakthrough for me. I started by cloning the app and running it in Docker using “docker-compose up.” I did most of the work in Visual Studio Code and collaborated via Slack and Github. The overall journey was great together!

Dominick and I sat down recently and summarized our top four takeaways from this project.

  1. Working with a new junior developer can be fun!

    “Working with Helena has been great, and pretty much hands off. Of course, with any developer joining a shop for the first time, regardless of seniority, there’s always a period of learning how to start a project and work with the codebase. Helena was eager to apply her knowledge of web design/development, willing to stretch herself into React and was able to utilize resources available to her in order to get the job done.” - Dominick

  2. Nothing beats learning while working on a real world project.

    Honestly, for me, the most difficult part was processing the front-end code and putting all the pieces together, figuring out the dependencies, examining the code to see where all things are defined and called, and getting used to using the proper “engineering” language.

    Looking at existing code was, as Dominick puts it, an enriching “trial by fire” and a great experience that is hard to simulate at a bootcamp. To get through the hard parts, my best friends were Dominick and, of course, Google (Mozilla, Stack Overflow, and React-related blogs).

  3. It is important to remember that you need to write code so that others can read and understand what you have done in the future.

    “Helena was pretty much on top of everything I threw at her. When someone learns a new framework, there’s always a period where you need to get a foothold on how to let the tools work for you, how to write code that others will read later, and how to stay a step ahead of the inevitable change that software undergoes. I think what Helena learned here will help her keep in mind the decisions engineers must make to ensure not only the outcome is achieved, but that the code can be read by others… in 6 months… after the requirements have changed 3 times.” - Dominick.

  4. The learning will never stop.

    I’m super happy that I’m still working within the DevEx team. Right now Luis Velasco, Dominick’s counterpart on the API team, is helping me learn more about REST APIs through working on their API documentation. I’m getting to learn Postman, a popular API client that makes it easy for developers to create, share, test, and document APIs. The team is working hard to build a great Postman ecosystem and make it easy for developers at all levels to use OneLogin’s APIs. I found it extremely valuable to learn front-end and how APIs work back-to-back on my journey to becoming a software engineer.

I’m looking forward to more projects within the DevEx team because the whole team is great and everyone is super helpful which makes me comfortable to share where I have my gaps and ask honestly about my “learning needs.” It will be cool to have Dominick as my mentor in the future because so far he is doing a great job, probably because he went through the similar direction within his engineering path. I truly want to thank him for all his support!

Stay tuned to read more about my journey to becoming a software engineer.

OneLogin blog author

Helena is an aspiring software engineer who loves helping people grow. As a Talent Acquisition Lead for the Engineering group at OneLogin, Helena was inspired to take the leap of faith and learn to code. She is now on her way to working in that same engineering group where she will be improving the OneLogin Developer Experience with her passion for the people-software relationship. She also puts on networking events and a networking workshop for the coding Bootcamp from where she graduated. Her focus is on helping starting engineers build their network and find the right job.