Mid Google Code-In Thoughts

I’ve always loved programming, and doing it socially on GitHub makes things even better. Although I was already a member of several small organizations, such as GitPoint, ChaosTheBot and my local FIRST Robotics Team, this is my first experience working with a really large organizations — in my case, coala. It’s an amazing experience, so I’m incredibly grateful to Google Code-In for the opportunity.

Working with everyone at coala has been fantastic. Not only have I been introduced to a wonderful and powerful code linter (which I’ve already started to implement into my existing code bases), I’ve also learned a ton about Python, unit tests, coala’s commit guidelines and probably most importantly, how to work in a large-scale team environment.

In the Google Code-In competition, students claim bite-sized “tasks” that usually involve solving a specific bug or adding a feature to one of their organization’s projects. Before “claiming” a task (committing to work on that specific issue) it’s generally good to research how you might go about it and what kinds of external tools or resources might be able to help you. For example, before I claimed a task involving the generation of an RSS feed for one of coala’s websites, I first found an NPM module that could easily create the feed and then read the documentation thoroughly to make sure I understood the module’s usage. At that point, I felt comfortable enough with the technology to claim the task.

If you are pushing yourself, eventually, you will run into a problem while solving a task. That’s totally fine. The mentors are there to help you overcome any barriers you may come across. I’ve ran into difficulties and had questions about a task several times, but contacting the coala mentors on Zulip or Gitter was very simple, and, after they get back to me quickly, we always work out a good solution. I’m very fortunate to have a huge team of mentors at coala who are willing to provide loads of feedback for even the smallest change, too. Learning directly from professionals in the programming industry has helped me become a better developer and improve my coding habits and abilities.

If you’re interested in coala, get involved by solving some newcomer issues. Once you’re comfortable, choose tasks in the coala repositories with a higher difficulty. The difficulty system set up in coala repositories is very helpful when you’re just starting off, as all issues are given a rating from newcomer, to low, to medium, to high, and you can pick and choose the issues with a rating you’re comfortable with.

Overall, coala has given me a stronger appreciation for all open source software, developers and maintainers while also helping me improve my own programming abilities. I’m very happy to be a member of the team and look forward to continuing to work with them well after this year’s Google Code-In competition is complete. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be able to mentor the next generation of coala developers in their Google Code-In journey, and hopefully help them have just as good of a time as I’ve been having.

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