Forging juniors at Elements Part III

Written by Kaira Diagne and Aaron Ruhe

Recently Kaira and Aaron graduated from the junior iOS training program at Elements. Under the guidance of senior iOS developers they were drilled to become junior iOS developers. In this blog post both Kaira and Aaron share their personal story and experiences with Elements’ training program. Previous graduates of the Elements training program were Aart and Eltjona (2015) and Maria and Yahia (2016).


During my internship as part of the master Organizational Psychology I first got interested in programming. I was working at a small startup specialized in branding research where besides doing research I was asked to design an info graphic for a new product. Since I had no experience with design, I searched on the internet and there I found out about all the open courses that you can follow to pick up a new skill. After I graduated I got a job as a researcher for EenVandaag, a news program on Dutch television.

This was also when I started following CS193p, the popular online course about iOS development from Stanford University. I chose apps because everyone uses them and because you have access to GPS, motion sensors etc. you can really be creative with the type of apps you make. I simply chose iOS because I use an iPhone myself and thus could immediately see the results on a real device. After the course I built a small app to showcase my skills and started going to meetups to get in contact with other developers. This is where I heard from Elements and I’m very grateful for the fact that they offered me a spot in their Junior iOS program. Here I got many valuable lessons about not only coding but also Scrum and DevOps. When I look back on the Junior program I’m amazed by how much I have learned in such a short period of time.


I haven’t been into coding for that long. After finishing my bachelors in Human Resources I started working at a real estate agency in HR. After a year of ‘surviving’ I felt that there was no love between me and the work that I was doing. It was then that I realized I wanted something different, something that I could be passionate about. I returned to the classroom and completed my masters in Information Studies. It was there, where I came in contact with programmers and (mobile) programming. I had no idea what they were doing, but nonetheless I was interested in the how and why.

After the master I started working as an IT consultant and forgot all about programming. It felt like a logical step to me after my BA bachelor and IT master. Sadly, I didn’t find any pleasure in my work… again. I quit my job and knew what I wanted to do: start developing apps. I helped to design apps during my master, but I wanted to learn how to build them. I took about a month to decide whether iOS or Android was the right platform for me. In the end it was the language, IDE, products and personal preference that made me go in the direction of iOS development.

After two iOS nanodegrees at Udacity I started to apply for internships. Within a week I had offers from four companies, one of which was Elements. Elements was the only company that offered me a dedicated junior program and treated me like a developer and not just an intern. I am grateful that they took a leap with someone who had no professional technical experience whatsoever. We recently renewed my contract at Elements for another year. The main reasons for this are simple: coding standards are high and I feel like part of the family.

Junior project and best practices

Our first projects was for us to build the iOS Deploy+ app. It concerns an in-house project that allows the company to share and download development versions of mobile app builds. Since we were new to app development, we felt like much was coming our way: using Git, working with JIRA, in a Scrum team, dealing with a client (in-house management) and learning to code. The great thing about the junior program is that failing is allowed and that there is plenty of feedback to go around!

In effect, we started noticing how much we had learned when we started working our first ‘real’ project. We found that there are certain key learnings that made this possible:

  1. Learn step by step, sometimes baby steps are necessary to fully understand the code. You will think you understand something but then the next time you are working on the same thing you will go a bit deeper and realize that before you did not really understand it (and probably now the same). Don’t get frustrated: it’s part of coding.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. However stupid they may seem to you.
  3. Keep track of your own progress. When something delays your progress, address the issue asap.
  4. Don’t just focus on coding. App development is so much more, be open to learn from different kinds of developers, designers, QA etc. Simply talk to your colleagues because they have their own stories to share. Learn from them.

Lastly, have fun!

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Originally published at on January 24, 2017.