Developing the CAST
We are Ivan and Andrew, and we’ve recently joined CAST as Full Stack Developers. We will be helping build prototypes for the Fuse programme as well as developing internal products.
Both of us graduated from the 7th cohort of Founders and Coders, a free coding bootcamp in Bethnal Green. Founders and Coders was an intense and life-changing experience, and has definitely influenced our core philosophies as developers.
Among other things they advocate:
- peer to peer learning
- sharing resources with the group (it’s never about how good you are but how well the group succeeds)
- test driven development (don’t just trust that it works, back it up with tests)
- working on projects that have a positive social impact.
Shortly after graduating from Founders and Coders I actually got my first chance to work with CAST. I was asked to work on a project with Founders and Coders’ sister company DWYL (Do What You Love), who were contracted by CAST to build an MVP for Age UK, a previous Fuse charity.
Age UK had designed and tested a companion service called Steps through the first two months of Fuse. When an Age UK companion goes to an elderly person’s home, they have a conversation with them and try to figure out how the charity might be able to help to improve their life. The problem was that all these conversations were unstructured, so vital health information was sometimes missed or mis-communicated, for example, and it wasn’t always easy to convey all the different relevant ways in which Age UK could help. As part of a small team at DWYL, we built a progressive web app (a website that functions as if it were a phone app) that helped guide the conversation down certain paths but still kept the discussion natural.
We had six weeks and an extremely ambitious scope, but we pulled it off. DWYL’s guidance was exceptional, we had a fantastic project manager and brilliant QA (‘quality assurance’ — someone reviewing our code). I feel I learnt some extremely valuable lessons from them that I hope I can bring to my current work at CAST.
Something that kept me working through the late nights on that project was the fact that the work we were doing would hopefully improve the lives of others. I think it’s a core priority for me, and the reason I jumped at the chance to work with CAST long term.
Looking back on my time at Founders and Coders I can see that this was the ideal preparation for my work at CAST. F&C is heavily involved in the tech for good sector. The last six weeks of the course are spent working with nonprofits, where I was involved in series of hack days, design sprints and product workshops. The aim of these events was to test how digital technologies could aid the awesome work that these organisations were carrying out.
I learnt a lot during these events. I saw that these organisations lacked the resources and know-how to efficiently implement digital solutions in solving their problems. This makes me extremely excited about the work we are doing at CAST.
At F&C the scope of the products was limited to very early stage prototypes. I am excited by the prospect of working on more ambitious projects, of seeing my products go out into the real world and of hopefully making a valuable difference. It makes me happy to be a part of the movement that is realising the huge potential of digital technologies in the third sector.
The two of us have a strong interest in functional programming and we’ve both committed to learning Haskell by the end of the year. CAST will have to watch out that we don’t rewrite their servers in Haskell!