No matter what you do for work, committing to growth (learning) in your profession or interests you have – will keep you sharp, fluid, and open opportunities that were once unreachable. For programmers and website developers this is a crucial component to stay relevant in a world that is constantly evolving; new technologies, concepts, frameworks, and buzzwords are being crafted all the time. While their usefulness may be open for discussion it is a great way to stimulate life and energy into the work you do.
Reading articles or following a discussion between developers about technology is a great way to keep active. Another option is to engage in a meaningful conversation with a friend or colleague. But my favorite is to take on personal projects that allow you to educate yourself along the way. Fortunately, I work with a diverse group of individuals who will question my work. Not because they think I’m wrong (which obviously is never the case) but because they can offer alternative solutions or ideas. This friction is not the worst thing to have with other developers; friction can often create or inspire new ideas and can make the work you do feel less routine.
My managers at Enova care about my work and career growth. This leads to routine discussions to ensure I’m getting the most out of my current projects. This is a great way to spark conversations about interests or ideas I would like to pursue and gives some freedom to my professional growth.
This freedom is something I am going to make use of towards the end of this year when we go through a period known as a “Code Chill.” This is a seasonal peak period where we focus on limiting changes and plan out or begin larger projects for the year ahead. During this time developers can potentially take on longer-term internal initiatives; work that not only interests them but also provides benefit to Enova.
Because I favor internal initiatives as they provide benefit not only for myself but my coworkers as well, I’ll be working on two fun projects during this seasonal chill. Luckily for programmers and engineers there is a plethora of sci-fi references one can use and attribute to a project and I highly recommend you do the same for any project you work on!
The Problem: All of our brands have one shared object: a customer. This customer can be in one of numerous states (i.e. registering, with a loan, in default). When a dev, QA, PM, or even Marketing want to create a test customer account in order to explore what the UI would look like for customers in different states, they would either have to ask someone knowledgeable to create it, go through the flow manually, or create it using a console. I wanted to create a more rounded “mini app” that can be used by anyone no matter their technical understanding of how it works.
The Solution: On the 29th of August at around 2:14am I decided to go the way of a Chrome Extension. While a website app would suffice, I wanted it to overlay and not distract from whatever it is the user is doing. Additionally, since the majority of users here use Chrome or at least have it on their computers the market is available for me to work with. A Chrome Extension gives my mini-app a dedicated space for storage, user preferences, connection to whatever page they’re on, and hides itself neatly within their toolbar. It can notify a user when their request completes, and in the future could communicate with other extensions as well.
Project: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Front End
The Problem: New engineers coming into Enova go through a great internal learning program called Level Up; it is a way for them to become familiar with the technology we work with and hit the ground running. While offered to new hires, this is also a learning tool used internally for Enovians to possibly transition to a dev role. Level Up has a small course on UI Engineering but is lacking a course on just the Front End, and to that end we are limiting our internal learning set.
The Solution: With the help of fellow UI Engineers, I am going to fill that empty gap to ensure there is a great introductory course explaining the Front End. This course will include necessary information, guides, and a couple small projects that will build up their skill.
I encourage everyone to take it upon themselves to keep focusing on expanding your knowledge of whatever you find interesting, whether or not it currently relates to your profession, and push yourself on a project that solidifies your understanding.