I was encouraged to code at an early age and have enjoyed seeing my own children learn. So I was delighted when Yoomee was asked to take 16 year old Neena from a local school for two weeks' work experience. What follows is her story:
Hi, I'm Neena. Over the last two weeks I've been working at Yoomee and I'd like to tell you a little bit about my experience: of coding in general and my time here.
Teaching young people, like myself, to code seems to be everywhere in the news at the moment: Oliver Balch of the Guardian writes: “Skilling up today's youth in digital literacy is not just about surviving, but thriving.” As a country, I feel we're taking small but sure steps in the right direction, from Michael Gove's newfound interest in computing as a proper school subject and the introduction of Scratch into the curriculum of many schools, to the work done by the Code Club project setting up after school clubs to teach kids programming. At the last count there were an incredible 913 code clubs up and running in the UK.
Young Rewired State
And it's not just industry and educators who see computing as important; there’s no shortage of young people who want to learn how to code. Last year, Young Rewired State (YRS), an event where under-18s work in teams for a week to build a digital product, saw over 400 participants (the majority of whom were self-taught) at 38 different centres across the country.
Learning Ruby on Rails
Having used computers from a fairly young age, playing with Lego Mindstorms, loving maths and problem solving, and falling in love with Scratch when I first used it, I think that it was only natural that I’d eventually find my way into programming. Over the last two weeks at Yoomee I've learnt Ruby on Rails, which has been very exciting; quite different to anything I’d used before, but definitely interesting and something that I’ll be looking into more in the future.
During my work experience, I’ve been working on a website called Yoomee-versity, which you can check out here. In its essence, Yoomee-versity is a collection of bookmarks gathered by the Yoomee team in order to allow others to learn a subject through curated content. It will incorporate articles, tutorials, exercises, videos and editorials. The idea is to make it easy to learn something, for example web development, by organising the resources into lessons within each course.
Writing code for me is the perfect mix between problem solving and design and it’s so exciting creating a real, usable product. With programming, literally anyone with a computer and a bit of time can turn an idea into an actual thing. My current plans involve continuing with coding alongside my other interests and keeping fairly open-minded towards university and eventually a career, though computer science and web development are both certainly things that appeal to me.
Aside from learning Ruby on Rails, my work experience at Yoomee was great because I got the chance to see how things work within the company. I also got to know the Yoomee team, who were helpful, kind and fun to be around, and it was very interesting hearing each person’s background, how they ended up where they are now. Sitting with the team was very different to what I expected it to be like: they played music in the office and everyone helped each other and shared knowledge. It was really enjoyable being there, because despite the mood being fairly relaxed, I feel like I learned a lot, and there was a great balance between work and fun. Some highlights included kazyoomee (the lunchtime kazoo choir) and the delicious picnic during my last week. The team were so friendly and happy that it really made my time very enjoyable.
If you're a young person who's thinking about coding, my advice would definitely be to give it a go: I'd recommend Codecademy as a starting point (or Yoomee-versity when we launch it with more content!), but I'd also suggest going to Young Rewired State – there's a lot of value in getting to meet like-minded people and working on a real project. Another benefit of Young Rewired State is the mentors; it's great being able to teach yourself, but it's invaluable having someone there in person to help you, and keeping in touch with them means that you have someone in the field to advise you on subjects, work experience and the like.
Doing work experience is also fantastic, for similar reasons, but you get a lot more insight into the real world of web development and the potential it offers, as opposed to the hackweek, which in all honesty seems a bit surreal whilst you're there!
My advice would be to try and find a company which will give you hands-on work experience, like I had working on Yoomee-versity, and also to try and get a grounding in the language you'll be using before you go, so that you'll get the most out of your time.
For me, working with Yoomee has been a very worthwhile experience and I hope you've found my account of it interesting too.