I had the opportunity to speak to a class of high school journalism students today since I’m back in Chicagoland for my cousin’s wedding. Actually, the wedding will be in Urbana-Champaign, but I’m back in my hometown for a few days before heading south tomorrow. My former high school journalism teacher and advisor for the North Star recently connected back with me and asked if I could speak to her students on working at the NYTimes and technology and journalism in general, and I was more than happy to oblige.
I have the good fortune to be in Chicago today and tomorrow for the Windy City Rails conference. The NYT was kind enough to pay for me to fly here and attend the conferece, and I’m sure it helps that I can crash with my brother in the south Loop rather than get a hotel room. Whenever I can get the chance to come back home and see my family and friends, I try to jump at the opportunity.
Here are some thoughts on the most interesting talks I heard on WCR Day 1.
I’ve been using a gem called Flag Shih-Tzu in a number of my projects recently. In addition to being a wonderfully (and aptly) named gem, FlagShihTzu makes it super simple to add bit mask fields, or Boolean indicators, without having to run additional migrations. In other words, it allows you to flag shit on your models and makes it easier to avoid technical debt when there is little certainty of an application’s trajectory.
Last Friday was graduation day for the most recent cohort of Flatiron School students, and today is the first official day of the post-school job search process. I’m reminded of the my first day after the last day of Flatiron, when I went back into school just out of habit and a desire to continue the accelerated learning process that I had become so accustomed to. In light of that and with an eye toward helping out the newly-minted Flatiron graduates, here are a few thoughts that I hope can be useful to those who are enduring the frustration, anxiety and, ultimately and hopefully, joy of looking for a junior-level developer gig.
Recently at the NYT on the product I’m working on, we came across the problem of having to convert ActiveRecord migrations into raw SQL in order to be processed on our production database. Our infrastructure/systems team needs SQL in order to generate migrations; since not all teams at the NYT use Rails, ActiveRecord’s migrations cannot be automatically applied to the production database.
I’ve been at the New York Times on the New Digital Products team for a little over two weeks now. Thus far, its been an awesome experience. I’ve had the opportunity to jump right in and commit code, primarily helping build the Rails backend interface for a mobile application. I’ve been spending time trying to get up to speed on the various internal software tools that the NYT provides, and I’ve come to appreciate that from a technical perspective, the NYT is an API-driven organization.
Last week I started my job at the New York Times. And while I’ve learned a lot over my first week, I feel it necessary to write a post on what I learned working at 8to18 for four weeks. As my first actual developer gig, working at 8to18 has helped me grasp what it means to be a professional developer, and while I undoubtedly still have a lot to learn, I felt better prepared going into my job at the NYT having worked at a start-up for a short period of time. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned now that I’ve had a chance to explore an existing code base for a non-trivial web application that has an active userbase.