BeCode junior Aleksandra about her first hackathon experience: “It was amazing. I think it’s the first time that I actually win something”

by Dec 4, 2020News

Looking for more independence, Aleksandra left school early. With some work experience in the food and service check industry in her pocket, she felt that it was time for a new challenge and decided to register for our web development training in Charleroi. Although the end of the training is approaching, she didn’t want to miss out on the chance of participating in her first hackathon. And if the Breakathon was a success, her team won the first prize! 

Curious about her BeCode journey and how she experienced her first hackathon? read all about it in the interview below.

What were you doing before you joined BeCode?
“My school years ended early because I wanted to have my independence. So I didn’t complete my studies. I worked in the food sector as a production worker. Then, I switched to the service vouchers industry and in the end I was supervising new recruits, but I had health problems, so I couldn’t continue. That’s my career path in a nutshell. It’s not very long because I stayed in each company for quite a long time.”

What motivated you to do a career shift towards web development?
“My background clearly has nothing to do with coding, but I’ve always been a geek at heart, and I wanted to see what goes on behind the scenes. I have a friend who is a front-end developer and I thought, “Why not me?”. At the same time, I followed a short training in HTML & CSS with Le Forem to see what it was all about. And then I saw you on social networks.”

How far along are you in your training?
“Almost at the end! We finish on December 18th, then the training courses will begin. It is thus really the end.”

What are the major things that you’ve learned as part of your training ?
“I learned a lot of things. On a technical level, I was nowhere and today I have a lot of skills that I never imagined I could have. Some of my classmates were much more advanced, already had a much more technical background. As far as I’m concerned, I almost started from scratch.”

“BeCode is also a great human adventure. We learn to work together, to fail together, to look for solutions, to rack our brains to solve a problem. Our class, and BeCode in general, is a bit like a big family. That’s also what’s great. So it’s all positive for me. Besides, it’s going to feel really weird when it’s over.”

Can you tell us a bit more about the technical skills that you’ve learned during the training, especially the technologies that you’ve preferred working with?
“I’m really into the back-end, all things PhP. I would like to specialize in this by learning all the useful frameworks. But I’m pretty good at front-end too, with CSS, Bootstrap, and stuff like that. Actually, for the hackathon, I didn’t do any back-end, I was in the front-end team.”

“But all in all, I learned a lot of stuff! I learned how to create a page from A to Z and client display. I learned how to manage databases, how to do SQL queries and a lot of other things. Most of all, I learned that I can always learn, by myself, and pretty quickly!  I can arrive on a new project and be able to adapt, do research, and not be too destabilized by the fact that I don’t know technology. That’s amazing!”

Since you’re mentioning the hackathon, how does it feel to win your first hackathon?
“To tell the truth, I saw that there was a hackathon, so I thought “Great, why not? It will be a great experience, I’ll meet new people.” But I didn’t ask myself any more questions. So I was just groping around. And from the beginning, it was really great. And when you win, it’s even more awesome, especially since the other projects were pretty cool too. We did a really good job, I’m very happy to have won. It’s always nice to win. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever won anything! (laughs)”

Could you describe your team skills-wise?
“Three people took care of the design. This team of designers was super cool. Bastien, another BeCoder, and I took care of the front end. There was also Maya, who helped the different groups. She had great ideas. And then there was Julian, a very experienced developer. Luckily, he was there to guide us and help us find the direction we needed to go in. He took care of the back-end with NodeJS.”

Several challenges were proposed as part of this hackathon. Which one did you opt for?
“We chose the buddy matching project, which allows people with special needs to find a companion to accompany them to events such as a theater outing, a concert, an exhibition. The company that gave this problem has a database with 3.500 volunteers, but they manage everything manually with an Excel file. It is therefore very complicated for them to do matches manually. So we have created a prototype application for them to automate this and make the matching happen by itself like in Tinder.”

How did you divide the work within the team?
“It happened naturally. We’re used to working in groups and having to adapt easily because at BeCode, we have projects with deadlines that are often quite short, so we have to get to the heart of the matter quickly. The design team started the movement and we took over the front-end and back-end work by sharing the tasks.”

Which skills that you’ve learned at BeCode have been the most useful to you in this hackathon?
“We had to work with GitHub and some VS code. But we’ve been doing it at BeCode since the very first day, so we weren’t seen as newbies. Thanks to our good basics, we can directly dive into the project without having too much trouble because we don’t know GitHub for example. We also used front-end frameworks, CSS. We opted for Bootstrap, because the project was to be delivered within 48 hours, we didn’t have time to start doing everything manually, so we went for that.”

Did you also learn new skills as part of this hackathon, that will benefit your future career?
“Absolutely. It was the very first time I worked in a big team, with designers. We learned how to do it during the training, but we hadn’t yet had the chance to work with designers on a real project. So it taught me a lot to see how everyone’s work is coordinated: how they work, what they expect from us, how to find compromises,…”

Could you explain in detail the solution your team came up with?
“We created a page on which there are two registration forms: on one side, a form for a person looking for a “buddy”, and on the other, a form for volunteers. The person looking for a buddy provides information on the specific needs he or she has, for example if he or she is in a wheelchair or is visually impaired, etc., as well as his or her interests and geolocation.”

“Then, depending on the information given, an algorithm links them together and the two people arrive on a page that gives them an overview of the people who have been chosen for them, as well as some information such as the telephone number to contact. This is what has been set up for the moment.”

Awesome… Will the company stay in touch with you?
“Absolutely! The company representative was very moved. She cried because she was happy to see that in two days she was offered a fully functional prototype. With the whole team, we are very motivated to continue afterwards. We have planned a meeting next Saturday to see together how to continue and finish the project together.”

What are your projects for after the training?
“I found an internship, so I’m very happy. After this one, I would like to find a job. Besides that, I would like to freelance to work on projects that I’m passionate about and do what I want to do.”

Where will you do your internship and what will you do?
“I will do this internship at Metrac International and I will work with WordPress and create an E-commerce website.”

What would be your dream job?
“I’m already doing my dream job! (laughs) I’d like to keep going because I love doing what I do.”

Would you like to add something?
“Yes, I would like to tell women not to be afraid to come because we are very well integrated. We need more women in IT, so come on!”

Are you interested in following our web dev training?

Amazing! – We have a new class starting in Brussels, Charleroi and Liège.

 

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