Learning to Code at Simplificator

31.10.2016 - Marion Schleifer

When I finished my Master in Economics in September 2014, I didn’t want to take on some random office job where I do the same every day. I wanted a job where I have to learn something every day and where I have to keep up to date with what I do. I then decided to take on a 50% accounting job, in order to make a living, and meanwhile, I decided to learn programming. I started with online tutorials and practised on my own. However, I soon realised that, at some point, I didn’t get any further. I had a basic knowledge about data structures and control structures, but I had no idea where I would have to use them in a real project.

In early 2015, I then looked at different companies and it soon became clear to me that I wanted to work at Simplificator. When I called to ask for an internship, I was told that Simplificator doesn’t have any internship positions. I then thought about applying at a different company, but I really just wanted to work at Simplificator. So I sent an email to Lukas (the CEO), asking again. They then invited me for a short interview and they agreed that I could start a 50% internship the next week.

During my internship, Tobias was my team lead and instructor. He taught me about classes, methods, design patterns and much more. Especially at the beginning, I had to learn a lot of different technologies: Ruby, Rails, SQL, HTML, CSS etc.  Soon, I started my own little project, which was a calorie tracker. The calorie tracker was a very good way to learn new things as the project developed. I started with the backend, so that the business logic was implemented as discussed with the “client”, who was Tobias. The frontend didn’t look nice at all. I only used it to test if my backend works as intended. I then received a design from our designer Marcel, which I had to implement. This was very important, because I knew that it also works like this in real projects.

This is what the calorie tracker looked like after I implemented the design:

calorie tracker screenshot

Later, I wrote unit tests and integration tests, as well as controller tests for the calorie tracker. As a next step, users were introduced, so several people would be able to use the calorie tracker. This was quite tricky for me, because I had never worked with sessions before. But again, I knew this would be important in real projects, too. Next, there should be a date picker, where the user could jump to the requested day.

date picker

Another requirement was that the user should be able to add a new entry without the page needing to reload every time. This was probably the hardest part, as I had to learn jQuery and the concept of AJAX at the same time. However, it worked out and the user experience was much better than before.

I really liked the calorie tracker project, because I learned so many things that would be useful in later real-life projects. Also, it was nice to see that the calorie tracker developed along with my programming skills. I implemented the easiest features in the beginning and they became much more fancy, as I learned new concepts and technologies. I also had a small insight of how a real project would work. I had to deal with the customer not yet being sure about what he really wants and thus, with changing requirements. It was a great way to develop my programming skills.

I want to thank Tobias for his great guidance to smooth operating, clean code and coding methodology. I learned so much in this year that I will be able to use for my whole programming career now. But it was not only Tobias who was helpful to me during my internship. Actually, everybody at Simplificator was always happy to help me with questions and giving me guidance in everything they could. I am still so happy to have had the opportunity for this internship, even though such a position didn’t actually exist. This is exactly how I perceived Simplificator from the beginning: People are always open for new ideas, even from outside people like me, at that time.

Since September, I have been working at Simplificator as a full-time Junior Software Developer, and I am working on much more challenging projects now. It is always interesting and I am still learning every day. Just like I always wanted :-)