software engineers working on freelance project together

Fall Classes are in Full Swing

Working with a team

Over the course of this past quarter, I had to opportunity to take a class that was almost solely focused on building apps with a team. Over the course of 9 weeks, myself and three others worked together to build three different apps, two of them using React.js and the last using React Native. If you're interested in checking them out, here they are:

The purpose of the class was to explore rapid prototyping and some of the new technologies that are being used for both web and mobile development. I think this class was great because it taught us valuable skills that don't seem to be very common in the traditional computer science curriculum. We got an introduction to working collaboratively with Git, which I feel was one of the most important things. I had had plenty of experience using Git before then, but never worked with a team where I had to handle merge conflicts or do code reviews. This is something that I'll be dealing with on a daily basis in the real world, and so I think to have come across it in my third year in only one course is wrong and is something I could see CS curricula improving.

Another great thing I got out of this course was getting a feel for some of the methodologies used, mostly at tech companies, to organize and ensure constant progress on development. In this class, we looked at Agile and how it can be used to facilitate progress in increments small enough that makes development more resilient to changing requirements. While it's not the only way of doing things, I found there were some good things that come from it that will help me not only in the workplace, but also with my personal projects. Instead of working a long period of time on a version of your app that has all the features you think you might need and setting one deadline for all of it, Agile teaches us that in some, and I would agree most cases, that small, story driven additions to the app is a more effective way of building an app. I ran into a great article on Medium that gives an interesting visualization of what I'm talking about. I highly recommend taking a couple minutes to read through or at the very least understand the graphics.

Soccer season is over

While unrelated to most of what this blog is about and most likely not what you came here for, I'd like to fill you guys in on this year's season. I'm proud to say that this year has been my best season yet. I ended the year with five goals and a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. You can find the full list of players on the Big Ten website; keep an eye out in the coming years as a lot of these guys will go on to play professionally. However, this success didn't come without a lot of hard work and frustrating times. There was stretch during the middle of the season where I wasn't playing a single minute. This is one of the hardest things to go through and I think what I learned here has applications in other parts of my life. I was frustrated because I really believed I was giving my best effort and playing well enough to deserve a spot on the field, but week after week I sat on the bench. It tested my commitment and resilience, but when I finally got the chance to get in the game after weeks of sitting on the bench, I changed the course of the game and scored within five minutes of being subbed on.

The point I'm trying to make with this is that theres always a little something extra within us that can take you to the next level. This idea is called "the 40% rule" and it comes from the Navy Seal's earned toughness, grit, perseverance, and dedication. The rule is very simple: when you feel like you can't possibly go any further, get any better, work any harder, you actually are only at about 40% of your potential. This mindset can be applied to all aspects of our lives and I think it's a great thing to try and incorporate. Image would you can accomplish with that much more potential. There are a lot of great articles out there talking about this idea but I really enjoyed this one from Forbes. Let me know what you think or share something you're proud of in the comments below.

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