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My Journey from Student to HPE Full-stack Developer

Brittany Archibeque

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This time last year, I was walking across the stage to receive my diploma. In that moment, I had a million thoughts racing through my head. For example, what is the next step in my journey? What kind of position do I see myself attaining in the next few years? And, most importantly, how do I not fall off this stage in front of all these people! For the past five years, I had a routine: go to class, work, and then study or work on projects/homework. The routine as I knew it would come to an end, and I had no idea what my next steps were going to be. Just like any other new graduate, I was concerned with the uncertainty of landing a job and whether or not those long years spent getting my undergrad were going to pay off.

Landing my first position

Luckily for me, I had the chance to join Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). I had so many questions when I first started working. For example, what was I going to be working on and how should I prepare before my start date? When my first day arrived, I was excited to sit alongside the user experience (UX) team. UX was something that interested me, but since it was not in my course work, I did not know much about the research and the design process. But you learn a lot through on-the-job training. Within a few months, I learned enough to work with another designer on a web application that counted down the days to HPE’s premier event, HPE Discover Madrid. I even incorporated my own ideas into the design!

Learning about Grommet

As a new hire, there was so much that was unfamiliar to me. I knew nothing about the React or Grommet software development and design tools. I learned to seek help through different resources, such as the Grommet Slack community. In the beginning, I was nervous about asking the community for help and advice, but once I posed my first question, I received a quick and helpful response. They always provided great answers, as well as insightful ideas, on how I might be able to implement changes in my code base.

Grommet is an awesome library to use to get started. After getting familiar with the different components of Grommet as well as React, I started to gain more confidence as a developer. Grommet is now the first thing I think of whenever I have a new project to get started on. I tend to think about the different components that Grommet has to offer and how I can leverage them to get the design I want. Once I have an idea of which components I will use, I start looking at the examples that Grommet provides. The Grommet site contains excellent resources, such as a storybook which displays an example and code for each component. The majority of the components in Grommet also have a link to Code SandBox, an open editor for users to be able to play around with the code as well as see their changes. These tools are very useful, especially for someone who is just starting out with React and Grommet. The editor allows you to play with the different components that Grommet offers and become more familiar with them.

In these past nine months, I learned not only about React, Grommet, and many other tools and languages; I also learned more about myself as a developer. Coming straight out of school, I was not sure about the type of work I would enjoy. Now I know that I really enjoy developing front-end applications. I also know I dislike writing tests for applications! (Even though it is a must.)

For those of you who are in the same position I was in this time last year, I can assure you that the transition from student to developer is not as nerve-wreaking as it seems. I do have some good advice from what I have learned that may shed some light on your path forward.

  • Do not be afraid to push yourself. When I was given projects, I thought to myself -- how am I ever going to implement this code?! However, I’ve learned to take each project and break the pieces apart. Take each challenge one step at a time.
  • In school, my goals included turning in a project on time, getting a good grade on a test, etc. Once you start working, things will change. But I still suggest you set goals for yourself. This way you can keep track of how you’re doing. Think of it now, though, as if you are grading yourself!
  • Embrace the opportunity to grow. Getting feedback from other developers is a helpful way to see where your strengths are and what you need to work on. Take the feedback as a learning opportunity given to you by another experienced developer that has most likely been in your footsteps.
  • It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone. I’m guilty of staying in my lane, however, it is important to be able to step out and be heard. As a new developer you may believe that your opinions and thoughts do not matter, but they do, and they should be heard!
  • Last, but not least, write clean code. This is something that I am guilty of not doing. Working on a team keeps me on my feet because the last thing I want to do is commit code to a team project that is not even formatted correctly!

I hope this advice helps anyone else who is on the same path as I was. If you would like to see more blogs for advice and tutorials, check out our HPE DEV.

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